Mueller with a start up river

Paul Mueller started Day 2 in second place after producing one of only a few 20-plus-pound bags. He made a 40-minute run, away from the crowds of other Elite anglers, and has a pad-choked creek all to himself.

That’s the way he prefers it.

“I found these fish during practice, and I’m glad the storm and cold front didn’t pull them out of this creek,” he said. “To be honest I’m surprised at how much weight I caught yesterday. And I lost one that was every bit of 8 pounds. I know they’re in here.”

He said to make the Top 20 cut, he needs 14 to 15 pounds if the weights stay consistent. This year's St. John’s River is a different beast—a stingy beast.

“If I can manage another 20 pounds again today, we’ll have a legitimate shot at this thing,” he said. “I feel pretty good about it.”

He just caught his first bass of the day, a small keeper. He called it a “bonus fish,” because he’s checking water he didn’t fish yesterday.

“The bite got good yesterday around midday,” he explained. “I believe today will be similar, maybe even better. I’m holding off on my best stuff until then.”

The day is early, and the sun is already warming the 35-degree air that kicked things off—cold by Florida standards. The warmer it gets, the better the fishing will be later in the day.