Brandon Palaniuk maintains lead on Day Two of 2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Lay Lake

Bucks Falcon Mercury

SHELBY COUNTY, Ala. — Most of this week, Brandon Palaniuk has worn a wry smile on his face. It is one of disbelief more than anything that he has actually found the quality of bass he has during the Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Lay Lake.

By adding 16 pounds, 5 ounces Friday to his Day 1 tally of 19-7, the Rathdrum, Idaho, native now has a two-day total of 35-12 and holds the lead for the second day in a row. Alabama rookie Will Davis Jr. is second with

2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Lay Lake Day Two Leader Brandon Palaniuk – photo by Christina O’Sullivan – AdvancedAngler.com

34-3 and veteran Florida pro Bernie Schultz is third with 31-8.

“I’m just the clueless leader out there,” Palaniuk said. “I’m 100% in disbelief. The fact I was able to fish for all of those fish the first day blew my mind. The fact I went back there and caught 16 pounds today blows my mind, too. I’m going to have to go again tomorrow because I don’t know what is going to happen. I might have another 15 or 16.”

Palaniuk has been maximizing one specific area of Lay Lake and has had to adjust to the conditions every day. Even though thunderstorms moved through the area Thursday night, the water had dropped a couple of inches when he arrived Friday morning. As the day progressed, it began to rise again.

“It is almost like a tidal fishery this week,” Palaniuk said. “They keep bringing the water up and down, up and down, so it has been hard for me to get dialed in to any one thing. You can see the water clarity change and you can see the current move in one direction and then back the other. It definitely changes everything.”

Friday morning when the water was at its lowest, there was very little activity in the area. The shad were stagnant and the bream beds were not active. But once the water rose, activity increased and the bite improved.

Adding to his disbelief, Palaniuk has had his area largely to himself, with only a couple of anglers filtering in and out.

“The way everyone else fishes it, it is really hard to get a bite,” he said. “The way I am fishing it, I have been able to get bites here and there. That is the biggest difference. I am fishing in an area that has bass, but doing it differently than everyone else. I can’t even describe how obvious it seems, but yet everyone missed it.”

On Thursday, Palaniuk did most of his damage sight fishing and caught the Day 1 Phoenix Boats Big Bass — a 5-14 largemouth — on his second pitch to one particular bed. On Friday, the two-time Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year excelled by finding postspawn bass that were either cruising or in specific cover he saw on his Humminbird MEGA 360.

He pitched his drop shot, rigged with an X Zone Lures Deception Worm to that cover. That presentation produced his biggest bass Friday, which was over 5 pounds. He also caught a couple of bass on a frog.

“I didn’t catch a bass off a bed today. I didn’t even see any,” he said. “I saw one that was maybe set up on a bed but wouldn’t lock on.”

He also caught a 4-pound cruiser and bream came into play as the day progressed.

“They aren’t on all of them, though. Just certain ones for sure,” he said.

Palaniuk added that he had several missed opportunities, including a bass he saw and coaxed into biting with a glidebait. Unfortunately for him, the bass made one big jump as it neared the boat and came free.

That bass went back to the same spot, and Palaniuk said he plans on trying to catch it again Saturday. He also dialed in a specific pattern that led to several culls later in the day.

“I did figure out a little something late where I culled up quite a few times,” he said. “I started catching fish off of my Humminbird 360 that clued me into something different. I don’t know how much I can expand on it.”

After landing in seventh on Day 1 on his home fishery with 15-14, Davis caught 18-5 on the second day with four spotted bass and one largemouth. It was the biggest bag of Day 2.

The Sylacauga, Ala., native’s starting spot had big bass schooling all over it, but Davis was unable to generate a bite.

“It was slick today and that hurt the topwater bite deal I had going on,” he said. “I didn’t have a swim jig bite this morning either.”

As the day wore on, Davis moved to an area on Lay Lake that featured some stronger current and caught close to 12 keepers, six of those coming on consecutive casts. The 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. window was his best window for catching the better quality.

At around noon, he also noticed the dam operators turned on two turbines, which helps position the bigger bass to his liking.

“I think more fish are coming to me,” he said. “I caught a big one late in the day. She was a prespawn spot and she was 10 feet down there. She was almost 5 pounds. I feel good about that for sure.

“They are gorging on shad. I had to clean my livewell screens three times today.”

Davis said the bream bed pattern has not been as good as he anticipated.

“I think a lot of bass are just getting through spawning and they are in that funk,” he said. “In another week, they will definitely be on bream beds. But right now, that’s not the deal — at least not for me.”

Schultz caught 15-4 Friday, anchoring his bag with a 5-11 largemouth he caught early. One bait has done most of the damage this week, a black Hildebrandt SqueakEasy buzzbait he designed with a Zoom Horny Toad as the trailer.

One area has provided the best results for the Gainesville, Fla., native. Schultz said there were so many shad in this area on Day 1 he could walk across them. On Friday, the shad presence wasn’t quite as prevalent, but he got two big bites — the 5-11 and a big spotted bass.

“Yesterday, the bass were active,” he said. “We had a low sky with low pressure. It was a humid kind of morning and it was on. That place had potential because it was right next to deep water and it had so much bait. I don’t know how other people missed it.”

The rest of Day 2, Schultz struggled to get bites but was able to finish his limit in a backwater pond up the river.

Palatka, Fla., angler Cliff Prince claimed the Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Day — and the $1,000 prize that goes with it — with a 6-4 largemouth. That bass surpassed Palaniuk’s Day 1 lunker to take over Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the Tournament honors. Palaniuk still holds the VMC Monster Bag of the Tournament with his 19-7 Day 1 bag.

South Carolina pro Brandon Cobb continues to lead the Progressive Insurance Bassmaster Angler of the Year race with 480 points. Georgia pro Drew Cook is second with 425 points, followed by Louisiana’s Tyler Rivet with 416 and Alabama’s Kyle Welcher and Florida’s John Cox with 401 each.

Davis leads the Dakota Lithium Bassmaster Rookie of the Year race with 382 points, followed by Alabama pro David Gaston with 381 and California pro Bryant Smith with 364.

The Top 50 remaining anglers will launch from Beeswax Creek Park beginning at 6:30 a.m. CT on Saturday and return for weigh-in at 3 p.m. Only the Top 10 will advance to Championship Sunday with a chance to win the $100,000 first-place prize.

Bassmaster LIVE will begin at 6:30 a.m. CT on FS1 before moving to Bassmaster.com at 9:30 a.m.

Discover Shelby is hosting the tournament.

2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Dakota Lithium, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Progressive Insurance, Ranger Boats, Rapala, Skeeter Boats, Yamaha
2023 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: AFTCO, Daiwa, Garmin, Lew’s, Marathon, Triton Boats, VMC
2023 Bassmaster Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Yamaha Rightwaters

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2023 Whataburger Bassmaster Elite at Lay Lake 5/11-5/14
Lay Lake, Shelby County  AL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 2

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            10  35-12  104   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-07     Day 2: 5   16-05
2.  Will Davis Jr          Sylacauga, AL           10  34-03  103
Day 1: 5   15-14     Day 2: 5   18-05
3.  Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL         10  31-08  102
Day 1: 5   16-04     Day 2: 5   15-04
4.  Justin Hamner          Northport, AL           10  30-05  101
Day 1: 5   12-07     Day 2: 5   17-14
5.  Seth Feider            New Market, MN          10  29-09  100
Day 1: 5   13-08     Day 2: 5   16-01
6.  Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR              10  29-09   99
Day 1: 5   13-11     Day 2: 5   15-14
7.  Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC         10  29-07   98
Day 1: 5   14-04     Day 2: 5   15-03
8.  Matt Herren            Ashville, AL            10  29-05   97
Day 1: 5   13-15     Day 2: 5   15-06
9.  Jay Przekurat          Stevens Point, WI       10  28-02   96
Day 1: 5   13-05     Day 2: 5   14-13
10. Justin Atkins          Florence, AL            10  27-12   95
Day 1: 5   14-14     Day 2: 5   12-14
11. Bryan New              Saluda, SC               8  27-06   94
Day 1: 5   18-12     Day 2: 3   08-10
12. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC           10  27-02   93
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   14-01
13. Frank Talley           Temple, TX              10  26-12   92
Day 1: 5   11-01     Day 2: 5   15-11
14. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              10  26-06   91
Day 1: 5   17-06     Day 2: 5   09-00
15. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN          10  26-04   90
Day 1: 5   16-02     Day 2: 5   10-02
16. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL              10  26-03   89
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   12-15
17. Jason Christie         Dry Creek, OK           10  26-02   88
Day 1: 5   16-05     Day 2: 5   09-13
18. Hunter Shryock         Ooltewah, TN            10  26-02   87
Day 1: 5   13-05     Day 2: 5   12-13
19. Alex Redwine           Blue Ash, OH            10  25-15   86
Day 1: 5   11-05     Day 2: 5   14-10
20. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY             10  25-10   85
Day 1: 5   13-12     Day 2: 5   11-14
21. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL             10  25-08   84   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   08-14     Day 2: 5   16-10
22. Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT           10  25-07   83
Day 1: 5   12-00     Day 2: 5   13-07
23. David Gaston           Sylacauga, AL           10  25-04   82
Day 1: 5   12-06     Day 2: 5   12-14
23. Logan Latuso           Gonzales, LA            10  25-04   82
Day 1: 5   12-14     Day 2: 5   12-06
25. Kenta Kimura           Osaka JAPAN             10  25-03   80
Day 1: 5   10-06     Day 2: 5   14-13
26. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                10  25-03   79
Day 1: 5   14-00     Day 2: 5   11-03
27. Jeff Gustafson         Kenora, Ontario CANADA  10  25-01   78
Day 1: 5   12-13     Day 2: 5   12-04
28. John Cox               DeBary, FL              10  24-12   77
Day 1: 5   13-05     Day 2: 5   11-07
29. Joey Cifuentes III     Clinton, AR             10  24-11   76
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   11-07
30. Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL           10  24-11   75
Day 1: 5   11-12     Day 2: 5   12-15
31. Bob Downey             Detroit Lakes, MN       10  24-10   74
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 5   11-06
32. Pat Schlapper          Eleva, WI               10  24-09   73
Day 1: 5   10-05     Day 2: 5   14-04
33. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA          10  24-07   72
Day 1: 5   10-11     Day 2: 5   13-12
34. Cole Sands             Calhoun, TN             10  24-06   71
Day 1: 5   11-10     Day 2: 5   12-12
35. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN           10  24-01   70
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   12-03
36. Chad Pipkens           DeWitt, MI              10  23-11   69
Day 1: 5   13-01     Day 2: 5   10-10
37. Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL             10  23-10   68
Day 1: 5   11-10     Day 2: 5   12-00
38. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA            10  23-01   67
Day 1: 5   11-08     Day 2: 5   11-09
39. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC          10  22-14   66
Day 1: 5   10-04     Day 2: 5   12-10
40. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         8  22-13   65
Day 1: 3   05-07     Day 2: 5   17-06
41. Bryant Smith           Roseville, CA           10  22-09   64
Day 1: 5   12-07     Day 2: 5   10-02
42. Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               10  22-09   63
Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 5   10-10
43. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              10  22-09   62
Day 1: 5   11-06     Day 2: 5   11-03
44. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY             10  22-08   61
Day 1: 5   09-08     Day 2: 5   13-00
45. Matt Robertson         Kuttawa, KY             10  22-07   60
Day 1: 5   06-11     Day 2: 5   15-12
46. Joseph Webster         Hamilton, AL            10  22-06   59
Day 1: 5   10-14     Day 2: 5   11-08
47. Derek Hudnall          Zachary, LA             10  22-01   58
Day 1: 5   11-02     Day 2: 5   10-15
48. Michael Iaconelli      Pittsgrove, NJ          10  21-15   57
Day 1: 5   11-15     Day 2: 5   10-00
49. Drew Cook              Cairo, GA               10  21-11   56
Day 1: 5   08-11     Day 2: 5   13-00
50. Kyoya Fujita           Minamitsuru, Yamanashi  10  21-09   55
Day 1: 5   10-09     Day 2: 5   11-00
51. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN        10  21-07   54   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   08-05     Day 2: 5   13-02
52. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA            10  20-14   53   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-13     Day 2: 5   09-01
53. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               9  20-07   52   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-12     Day 2: 4   08-11
54. Darold Gleason         Many, LA                10  20-06   51   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-14     Day 2: 5   08-08
55. John Soukup            Sapulpa, OK              9  20-05   50   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-10     Day 2: 4   08-11
56. Kyle Norsetter         Cottage Grove, WI       10  20-05   49   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-11     Day 2: 5   10-10
57. David Williams         Newton, NC              10  20-03   48   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-13     Day 2: 5   08-06
58. John Crews Jr          Salem, VA               10  20-03   47   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-07     Day 2: 5   10-12
59. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           10  20-01   46   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-08     Day 2: 5   07-09
60. Buddy Gross            Chattanooga, TN          8  20-01   45   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   08-15     Day 2: 5   11-02
61. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS        10  19-15   44   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   08-12     Day 2: 5   11-03
62. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland AUSTRALIA    10  19-08   43   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-08     Day 2: 5   07-00
63. Cooper Gallant         Bowmanville Ontario CAN 10  19-06   42   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-08     Day 2: 5   09-14
64. Drew Benton            Panama City, FL         10  19-05   41   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   06-12     Day 2: 5   12-09
65. Josh Douglas           Isle, MN                10  19-05   40   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-02     Day 2: 5   07-03
66. Jacob Powroznik        North Prince George, VA  8  19-02   39   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-02     Day 2: 3   06-00
67. Chris Johnston         Otonabee Ontario CANADA 10  19-00   38   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-09     Day 2: 5   08-07
68. Keith Poche            Cecil, AL                9  18-15   37   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   05-12     Day 2: 5   13-03
69. Marc Frazier           Newnan, GA              10  18-15   36   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-09     Day 2: 5   07-06
70. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC             10  18-14   35   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-06     Day 2: 5   06-08
71. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA            10  18-13   34   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-08     Day 2: 5   08-05
72. Jacob Foutz            Charleston, TN          10  18-09   33   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 5   09-07
73. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          10  18-04   32   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   05-12     Day 2: 5   12-08
74. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           9  18-04   31   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   07-03     Day 2: 5   11-01
75. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          10  18-03   30   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-03     Day 2: 5   08-00
76. Cody Huff              Ava, MO                 10  18-03   29   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-01     Day 2: 5   09-02
77. Greg Hackney           Gonzales, LA            10  18-02   28   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-00     Day 2: 5   07-02
78. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI            9  18-00   27
Day 1: 5   12-00     Day 2: 4   06-00
79. Alex Wetherell         Middletown, CT          10  17-14   26
Day 1: 5   08-05     Day 2: 5   09-09
80. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL        10  17-09   25
Day 1: 5   09-13     Day 2: 5   07-12
81. Jake Whitaker          Hendersonville, NC      10  17-06   24
Day 1: 5   07-13     Day 2: 5   09-09
82. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX             10  17-02   23
Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 5   08-00
83. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX          10  16-13   22
Day 1: 5   08-02     Day 2: 5   08-11
84. Matty Wong             Honolulu, HI            10  16-10   21
Day 1: 5   09-06     Day 2: 5   07-04
85. Lee Livesay            Longview, TX             9  16-10   20
Day 1: 5   09-02     Day 2: 4   07-08
86. Wes Logan              Springville, AL          9  16-08   19
Day 1: 4   05-10     Day 2: 5   10-14
87. Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN              7  16-07   18
Day 1: 5   13-03     Day 2: 2   03-04
88. KJ Queen               Conover, NC             10  16-07   17
Day 1: 5   10-06     Day 2: 5   06-01
89. Masayuki Matsushita    Tokoname-Aichi  JAPAN    9  16-06   16
Day 1: 5   09-08     Day 2: 4   06-14
90. Scott Martin           Clewiston, FL            9  16-05   15
Day 1: 5   10-09     Day 2: 4   05-12
91. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC          10  16-04   14
Day 1: 5   07-09     Day 2: 5   08-11
92. Jason Williamson       Aiken, SC                8  15-05   13
Day 1: 4   07-01     Day 2: 4   08-04
93. Joshua Stracner        Vandiver, AL             8  15-03   12
Day 1: 3   06-11     Day 2: 5   08-08
94. Skylar Hamilton        Jefferson, TN            6  14-14   11
Day 1: 5   12-06     Day 2: 1   02-08
95. Jonathan Kelley        Old Forge, PA            9  14-04   10
Day 1: 5   08-14     Day 2: 4   05-06
96. Mike Huff              London, KY               9  12-09    9
Day 1: 5   07-12     Day 2: 4   04-13
97. Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX              6  12-05    8
Day 1: 5   10-10     Day 2: 1   01-11
98. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK             7  12-03    7
Day 1: 5   09-00     Day 2: 2   03-03
99. Larry Nixon            Bee Branch, AR           6  11-07    6
Day 1: 3   04-03     Day 2: 3   07-04
100. Gregory DiPalma        Millville, NJ            7  10-09    5
Day 1: 5   07-10     Day 2: 2   02-15
101. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  4  09-10    4
Day 1: 3   06-09     Day 2: 1   03-01
102. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA               5  09-05    3
Day 1: 2   04-02     Day 2: 3   05-03
103. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            6  06-15    2
Day 1: 2   02-03     Day 2: 4   04-12
104. Bradley Hallman        Edmond, OK               4  05-09    1
Day 1: 2   03-01     Day 2: 2   02-08
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Brandon Palaniuk         Rathdrum, ID        05-14      $1,000.00
2   Cliff Prince             Palatka, FL         06-04      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        92       497      1122-07
2        83       478      1069-11
———————————-
175       975      2192-02