LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The man who sat atop the leaderboard for the first two days at the Mississippi River Rumble in the Bassmaster Elite series stop in La Crosse is out of the tournament on a rules violation.
The Bassmaster website early Saturday morning reported that Brandon Palaniuk's Friday catch of 19 pounds, 3 ounces was disqualified following an official protest that he'd been culling fish in Minnesota waters.
It all took place after the official weigh-in Friday afternoon.
According to the story, Minnesota law prohibits culling from a limit of bass in Wisconsin-Minnesota border waters.
The article states that despite the fact that B.A.S.S. officials said Palaniuk made an inadvertent mistake, the angler acknowledged that while he wasn't aware he was in Minnesota, he admitted he must have culled fish while inside the state boundary when shown a map of the waterway.
In doing so, it cost him his catch for the day, one of which was the official big bass of the tournament, a 5 pound, 9 ounce smallmouth that wowed the crowd at the weigh-in. With no official total for the day, Palaniuk dropped out of the to 50 cut for Day Three and out of the tournament.
The article quoted Palaniuk's statement once the decision was handed down.
"I had no idea today that I ever broke a rule. I signed off on the rule sheet. One hundred percent in my mind, I believed that south of the I-90 bridge, the main river channel was the state boundary between Minnesota and Wisconsin, until we went south of the take-off and went into the West Channel. I knew one of my areas was in Minnesota and I could not go back to that when I caught five.
"I made one cull today — just one — in Minnesota, in an area that I believed was in Wisconsin. It was only in Minnesota waters by less than 100 yards. I had 18 1/2 pounds before I made that one cull that just cost me, possibly, $100 grand and a Classic berth," Palaniuk said.
The move throws open the event. Palaniuk had a six-pound lead on his closest competitor after the second day weigh-in with 37-7.
Aaron Martens now sits in first, with veteran angler Tommy Biffle close behind at 30 pounds even. Last year's winner in La Crosse, Todd Faircloth, is in fourth place headed into Day Three. Bill Lowen, who was in 51st place before events unfolded, moves into the 50th spot, and back into the tournament.
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