Elite pro angler Brandon Palaniuk holds up his fish during weigh-ins Saturday at the Green Bay Metro Boat Launch. / Evan Siegle/For Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com
Day 3 leaderboard
|1.||Brandon Palaniuk||56 lbs., 2 oz|
|2.||Jonathon VanDam||55 lbs., 14 oz|
|3.||Aaron Martens||53 lbs., 0 oz|
|4.||Dean Rojas||51 lbs., 4 oz|
|5.||Tommy Biffle||47 lbs., 7 oz|
|6.||Ott DeFoe||46 lbs., 6 oz|
|7.||Ishama Monroe||45 lbs., 1 oz|
|8.||Skeet Reese||44 lbs., 7 oz|
|9.||James Niggemeyer||43 lbs., 5 oz|
|10.||Stephen Browning||42 lbs., 15 oz|
|11.||Russell Lane||42 lbs., 9 oz|
|12.||Bernie Schultz||42 lbs., 7 oz|
Only 12 remain after Day 3 of the B.A.S.S. Master Green Bay Challenge, and Saturday was separation day as four anglers gained some distance from the rest of the field in their quest for the $100,000 grand prize and an invitation to next year’s Bassmaster Classic.
Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, is the new leader with 56 pounds, 2 ounces of fish and came in with the biggest single-day total of the tournament (21 pounds, 2 ounces). Jonathon VanDam, 23, of Kalamazoo, Mich., also had a big day Saturday (20 pounds, 12 ounces) and moved into second place with 55 pounds, 14 ounces. VanDam had the biggest fish of the day at 5 pounds, 9 ounces, just one ounce shy of Palaniuk’s biggest smallmouth from Friday.
First-day leader Aaron Martens of Leeds, Ala., sits in third with 53 pounds and Friday leader Dean Rojas of Lake Havasu, Ariz., is in fourth with 51 pounds, 4 ounces.
Calming winds brought many of the anglers back to the shallow waters of Little Sturgeon Bay to sight fish for spawning females on their beds. Much like Thursday, there were big fish to be had.
“I ended up catching most of my fish on beds later on in the day after it got flat,” Rojas said. “I had some fish that were leftover from the first day, so I made it work.”
Little Sturgeon Bay wasn’t the only place where fishing was good Saturday. Many of the top 50 that did not head north took to the Fox River.
“If anyone wants to catch smallmouth in this system, I know that the further north you go, the better it gets, but I’ll tell you what, there is a ton of them in this river,” said Mark Davis of Mount Ida, Ark., who finished with the sixth-highest weight on Day 3 with 15 pounds, 1 ounce to finish the Green Bay Challenge in 28th.
Many of the pro anglers had a 15- to 20-fish day Saturday, but the Green Bay Challenge still stifled some of the best fishermen in the United States. Three anglers failed to record a keeper fish and 18 of them failed to fill their live well.
De Pere’s Travis Manson ended his Challenge Saturday afternoon, finishing in 24th with 39 pounds, 11 ounces after catching four fish on Day 3. Manson said he was disappointed he could not make it to championship Sunday, but loved all the support he got throughout the week.
“It’s awesome, I really appreciate all the fans,” Manson said. “It’s a great experience. I love it, I really hope we come back here.”
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @jvancamp32.