Paul Mueller has two Bassmaster Elite Series wins, most recently this year on Florida's St. Johns River, known for its largemouth bass. In 2019, the 46-year-old angler from Naugatuck, Conn., won catching spotted bass at Georgia's Lake Lanier. If Mueller maintains the lead he's had for three days on the St. Lawrence River, he'll have the triple crown - Elite Series wins on largemouth, spotted bass and smallmouth waters.
"Wow, I never thought about that," Mueller said Saturday. "The St. Johns thing, honestly, I'd never pick myself to win there. I'll still be uncomfortable when we go back down there. Had we fished four days (high winds reduced it to three days), Cliff Prince would have won. I feel real fortunate about that."
But it's no fluke when Mueller has success on a largemouth lake. He holds the Bassmaster Classic record for the heaviest five-bass limit - 32 pounds, 3 ounces - caught on Lake Guntersville in 2014.
Mueller could really seal his name into the B.A.S.S. history books if he's able to top 100 pounds in a four-day, five-bass-per-day event like this. It has never been done before. He's on pace, with 76-15 after three days. But Chris Johnston is going to have much to say about who wins this tournament. He trails Mueller by only 2 pounds, 3 ounces.
And wouldn't it be ironic if Johnston won this one, after leading the first three days at the St. Lawrence River last year, then finishing second by 14 ounces on the final day.