With limits hard to come by at the 2010 BASS Federation Nation Championship presented by Yamaha and Skeeter Boats , Brandon Palaniuk of Rathdrum, Idaho, was one of the few competitors in the 55-angler field to dredge up a five-fish limit on Louisiana's Red River.
Palaniuk boxed a limit that weighed 12 pounds, 1 ounce and by virtue of leading the tournament, he also was on top of the Western Division. Anglers are split into six different divisions -- based on geography -- and at the end of the three-day event, the leader in each division will receive a coveted 2011 Bassmaster Classic berth.
Palaniuk, a 22-year-old Panhandle Bass Anglers member, had to share water on Wednesday but is on just enough of a different pattern that he says he is catching fish behind other anglers. He was able to boat one of only 17 limits on the day. He declined to share specifics of his pattern.
"I'm not catching a whole lot of fish, and I'm sharing an area with a few other guys," he said. "I just put my head and my trolling motor down and covered a lot of water. Today was a good day, but I can't look too far ahead."
Only 10 ounces behind Palaniuk was George Crain of Cropwell, Ala., with 11-7. Crain also led the Southern Division while Zachary King of Clarksville, Ark., was third in the event -- first in the Central Division -- with 11-1.
In fourth was Mid-Atlantic Division leader Jeff Stetler of Leesburg, N.J., with 10-5 and in fifth was David Mock of Tallahassee, Fla., with 10-3. Mock was behind Crain in the Southern Division standings.
The divisional leaders included Palaniuk (Western), Crain (Southern), King (Central), Stetler (Mid-Atlantic), Alessio Telese of Italy (Northern) and George Cooper of Buxton, Me. (Eastern). The full standings can be found below.
Local favorite Jamie Laiche of Gonzales, La., struggled Wednesday, managing 6-11. Laiche believes the cooler weather that is forecasted Thursday could pick his bite up.