Brandon Palaniuk of Hayden, Idaho, although only 30 years old, has fished bass tournaments for the last 22 years. 2018 is his eighth season bass fishing professionally. Palaniuk has won three Bassmaster Elite tournaments, the Angler of the Year title on the Elite circuit last year and the B.A.S.S. Nation Championship in 2010 for a total of $1 million plus in wins. Palaniuk joined the Mossy Oak Fishing Team earlier this year.
Most people don’t think of Idaho as a bass state. When bass fishing is mentioned, most anglers think of California, Texas, the Midwest and the East. However, Jeremy Tripp, a man who married one of my mom’s best friends and fished local bass tournaments, took me bass fishing. He took me under his wing and started taking me with him to the local bass fishing tournaments and teaching me the basics of bass fishing like technique and how bass move at various times of the year. He really built the foundation for the way I bass fish now. Today, Jeremy has a very successful business in Idaho and still fishes local bass tournaments, but he’s never felt he needs to chase the Bassmaster Elite Circuit.
Although my parents were supportive of my dream to become a professional bass fisherman, my mom was very insistent that I have a Plan B, just in case bass fishing didn’t work out. I guess I was young and naïve and didn’t realize how difficult it would be to make the Bassmaster Elite Circuit. I just knew that was my goal. Finally I told my mom, “Why do I need a Plan B, if I’m not going to fail with Plan A?”
After high school, I went to college to get a business/marketing degree to learn how to market my bass skills for sponsors but left after only 1-1/2 years. When my finals conflicted with a big regional bass tournament, and the college wouldn’t allow me to take my finals early, I left. When I started out bass fishing professionally and traveling all the country, I slept in the back of my Toyota Tundra, since I didn’t have the money to stay in a motel. I called it the Tundra Suites. I was trying to become a professional bass fisherman as cheaply as I could.
However, now 8 years fast forward, my girlfriend Tiffanie McCall and my dog travel with me in a 43-foot Keystone Fuzion Toy hauler. My girlfriend drives the Tundra pulling my Skeeter boat, and I drive the big camper. Most of the year, we’re on the road beginning in January and return home to Idaho in September each year. In 2017, from January to September, we only spent nine days at home.
I think life on the road is awesome. My goal was to build a life that I didn’t need to take a vacation from, and I feel I’ve definitely accomplished that goal. I absolutely love being a professional fisherman. I admit being gone from my friends, family and home does get challenging. My nieces and nephews are getting older, and we miss out on some of their birthdays and other events. But I’ve learned you can’t chase a dream without some sort of sacrifice.