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Brandon Palaniuk's Preparation for the Santee Cooper Bass Tournament

provided by John E. Phillips

Mossy Oak Fishing Pro 32-year-old Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, just won $100,000 at South Carolina’s Santee Cooper Lake that covers land in five counties, with a total of 72 pounds, 2 ounces. He was fishing the Bassmaster Elite Series tournament held there October 8-11, 2020, and also won $2,000 more from catching the biggest bass on two different tournament days. Fishing in the late summer and early fall can be a frustrating time of year for many bass fishermen to have success.

Brandon Palaniuk Bassmaster Elite 2020

At this time of the year, in the fall, weather can be a big factor in where you’ll pinpoint bass, and how you’ll catch them. Early in the week of October 8, we had chilly weather at Santee Cooper like I might expect to have at home in Idaho. Although the mornings were chilly, each day the weather warmed up throughout the week. We also finally received the tail-end of the bad weather from Hurricane Delta. 

Before the tournament started, the biggest problem I expected to experience was how to break down the 170,000-acre Santee Cooper Lake. Knowing we’d only have three days of practice before the tournament, I realized I’d have to eliminate a lot of water and spend my time in what should be the most productive waters on the lake. To solve this problem, I did as much research online to try to determine where the most plentiful bass were, so I could find and catch good numbers of big bass. 

I studied past tournament results from previous tournaments held on that lake in early October. Depending on that earlier research, during the practice days, I went to those sections of the lake to learn where the bass were living under the weather and water conditions present during our tournament. I realized the bass were concentrating in numerous places in the lake, and I’d need to use a wide variety of lures to catch them. I’d probably have to throw everything but the kitchen sink at these bass to catch them in different depths of water. 

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