Bassmaster Classic Notebook: Salute to Kerchal; The morning line; Berkley Havoc Cast for Cash
Feb 20th, 2011 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Feb 20th, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Salute to Kerchal: The young B.A.S.S. Federation Nation qualifier blew a whistle on the Bassmaster Classic stage.
The young man with the whistle was 23-year-old Brandon Palaniuk, and he was at the 2011 Classic in New Orleans. But those who remember the 1994 Classic could have closed their eyes and imagined that the angler was Bryan Kerchal.
Kerchal was the 1994 Classic champ who blew a toy whistle shaped like a fish each time he caught a fish. He was the first Federation Nation qualifier to win the Classic, and he did it when he was 23 years old.
Kerchal was killed in a plane crash a few months after his victory, but his whistle lived on. Kerchal’s father had similar whistles made and he brought them to several Classics after his son’s death.
Palaniuk, the 2010 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Champion, contacted Kerchal’s family and asked permission to blow a whistle on stage in memory of the Federation angler who paved his way.
“Bryan’s father sent me a whistle to use,” Palaniuk said at the beginning of Classic week. “I’ll do it if I make the cut. I want to honor him by doing well.”
Not only in the top 25 cut, Palaniuk was in fourth place going into the final round, and that’s where he finished. After he weighed his final-day catch of a whopping 22 pounds, 15 ounces, for a 55-7 total over three days, he pulled out the chartreuse whistle and blew it for Kerchal.
The morning line: As half-expected from weather forecasts for morning fog, the final day of the 41st Bassmaster Classic started 30 minutes late. Operating under the “safety first” rule, B.A.S.S. officials let the anglers go only after the fog reports were checked out and the way looked clear.
At the docks waiting for the word to go, the anglers were interviewed by Bassmaster emcee Dave Mercer. Here’s what some of them had to say just minutes before they began the final play for the $500,000 winner’s purse and prized Classic title:
“Time to do work.” – Brandon Palaniuk, the 23-year-old from Idaho in 4th place on Sunday morning.
“I’m going for the big ones.” – Aaron Martens, a three-time runner-up for the Classic crown, in 3rd place after Saturday.
“This week … I want somebody to show that the New Orleans Delta, even after the hurricanes and oil spill, is alive and well, is world-class.” – leader Kevin VanDam
“The biggest fish I caught (Saturday), I had my bait hung up and I popped it loose, and he ate it. You know something’s going your way when that happens.” – Kevin VanDam
“I got what I wished for.” – Brent Chapman, in 2nd place going into Sunday. He had wished for a full competition day – or at least more than five hours, like he got on Saturday.
Berkley Havoc Cast for Cash: Bryan Hueschen of Slidell, La., got his shot at $100,000 during the final weigh-in of the 2011 Bassmaster Classic. Hueschen is a tugboat captain and angler, and “absolutely” liked his chances of taking a $100,000 check to the bank.
As a bonus, Hueschen was coached by legendary angler Hank Parker before his Cast for Cash.
After watching Hueschen’s form, Parker said: “It’ll be a tough one.”
Hueschen’s first cast missed the mark, but he was offered a follow-up shot for $25,000. When that missed, Berkley offered Hueschen a bundle of tackle and $5,000.
2011 Bassmaster Classic local hosts: Louisiana Office of Tourism, Greater New Orleans Sports Foundation
2011 Bassmaster Classic Official Sponsors: Toyota Trucks, Berkley, Bass Pro Shops, Evan Williams Bourbon, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Skeeter, Triton, Yamaha
For more than 40 years, B.A.S.S. has served as the authority on bass fishing. The organization advances the sport through advocacy, outreach and an expansive tournament structure while connecting directly with the passionate community of bass anglers through its Bassmaster media vehicles.
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