2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro
Lake Guntersville - Birmingham, AL, Feb 21 - 23, 2014

A classic Classic finale?

A wild second day at Guntersville promises a memorable finish

Mueller's mules
Mike Suchan
Paul Mueller shows off part of his Classic record bag on Saturday.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — You're crazy if you think you know who is going to win the championship going into the final day of the 2014 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by Diet Mountain Dew and GoPro.

But you're not any crazier than Day Two was on Lake Guntersville.

Here are just a few examples:

– Day One leader Randall Tharp witnessed a drone carrying a GoPro camera crash into the lake near where he was fishing. "Maybe I'll catch a bass off it tomorrow," Tharp said.

– Day One runner-up Edwin Evers moved into first place over Tharp by one ounce thanks in big part to landing a 7-pound, 12-ounce bass that had a single crankbait hook stuck in its tail.

"When I finally saw it was a bass, I thought my chances of landing that fish were slim to none," Evers said.

– Speaking of long odds, Federation Nation qualifier Paul Mueller from Naugatuck, Conn., zoomed from 47th place (9-10 on Friday) to fifth place with a five-bass-limit Classic record of 32 pounds, 3 ounces.

When the top six anglers were brought to a post weigh-in press conference, Tharp noted, "I think there are way more than just us six guys that have a shot to win this tournament."

The field was cut to the top 25 for Sunday. One of the favorites to win any tournament, especially at Lake Guntersville, Kevin VanDam just missed the cut with a 26th-place finish.

"This is probably one of the few places we could have a Classic where you could see a big-time spoiler win this thing," Randy Howell said. "I've been saying for the last month that anyone in the top 10 or 12 could win this thing on the last day."

Howell is in 11th place with 38-6, exactly nine pounds behind Evers' first-place total of 47-6.

There has been a lot of talk this week about Guntersville's potential to produce a limit weighing 30-pounds-plus. With most of the biggest names in bass fishing in this competition, it was the unlikely Mueller who made that a reality. He only caught six keepers all day while mixing up crankbaits and chatterbaits. His best five, spread throughout the day, weighed an estimated 8-2, 6 ¾, 6 ¾, 6 ½ and 5 ¼ pounds.

"I thought I had the potential to catch 25 pounds," Mueller said. "I didn't dream of catching 32 pounds."

Tharp had the wildest day of all. He has noted that it was Lake Guntersville, where he lived for 17 years, that led to him falling in love with tournament bass fishing. He started the day where he left off Friday (27-8) by putting "a smack-down on some fish."

"I caught 15 keepers off the place where I caught an 8-6 yesterday," Tharp said. "But after that, I never got in rhythm again. I think I caught three fish in the last three hours."

Tharp, the current FLW Forrest Wood Cup champion, had a legitimate reason for faltering Saturday. A mechanical issue left him high and dry for an hour and 45 minutes, beginning at 10:30 a.m. An armada carrying an estimated 100 observers followed him being towed to the ramp and stuck around to see his boat repaired.

"I decided to take off my long johns on the boat ramp, so they got to see me in my underwear," Tharp said.

As previously noted, this Classic championship is wide open. But Evers and Tharp would have to be the favorites. Right behind them are Ott DeFoe (43-5) and Jason Christie (42-14).

Christie knows there's a 30-pound potential in the seven- to eight-mile stretch where he's been fishing. He caught that much during the second day of pre-practice last weekend.

"That's not hard to do when you catch a 10- or 11-pounder," Christie said. "I caught a 9-pounder the third day of practice."

Christie has yet to catch anything over 6 pounds during the tournament.

"I'm due two big ones (Sunday)," Christie said. "It's going to be fun."

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