Brandon Palaniuk was named the 2022 Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year this week, adding yet another trophy to his mantle, according to a Bassmaster news release.
With a 25th-place finish at the Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Mississippi River with 39 pounds, 11 ounces, Palaniuk clinched the Angler of the Year title Sunday, becoming just the 12th angler to win multiple AOY trophies, with his first title coming back in 2017.
“It is amazing. It hasn’t sunk in all the way yet,” Palaniuk who lives in Rathdrum said in a release. “The feeling of winning and that accomplishment, that moment and feeling when (Dave) Mercer announces it on stage, that is what makes all the hard work, the early mornings, the late nights and the hard times OK. It makes it worth it. For me, it is another piece of the puzzle of this crazy life we live, and I’m glad the pieces fell the way I wanted them to.
Palaniuk was able to begin his celebration on stage with his daughter, Kora, in his arms and his wife, Tiffanie, by his side.
“It doesn’t get any better than that. Because of them, I can do what I do. It is just as much theirs as it is mine,” he said.
After battling David Mullins and John Cox for the lead most of the year, Palaniuk entered the Mississippi River event with a 37-point lead over Brandon Lester after a disappointing showing at Lake Oahe, according to the release. Lester and Chris Johnston put the pressure on Palaniuk this week, as both anglers qualified for Championship Monday.
Meanwhile, Palaniuk had just four bass in his livewell with a half hour to go on Day 2. In danger of missing the cut, Palaniuk landed his fifth keeper at around 3:30 p.m. to make the Semifinal Sunday field.
“What blows my mind is that AOY was literally decided by one bass. One bass yesterday I caught at 3:30 gave me a limit and without that, I don’t win AOY,” he said. “That is why you fish until the very end. I always say I have won more tournaments on my last cast than the first cast.”
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