No. 3 for Mullins

Mullins has his third keeper. Another 2-pound class fish.

While we’ve been running a lot Mullins is in no way spinning out. He’s just working hard during the tough part of the day.

This derby has been a tale of two different bites. An early bite where we’ve seen flurries like yesterday when Mullins put about 15 pounds in the boat in a few minutes.

Then there’s the late bite. Where virtually everyone who caught early culls. And those who didn’t get well.

Mullins has said all week that both periods are critical.

The big difference today is the unexpected sun and a chop on the water. That plays right into the hands of those on the lower end.

Mullins, though, intends to keep his course. At least for now.

Mullins staying resolute

Mullins has taken us on a tour of the Chessetee River. We’ve easily burned a quarter tank of gas. Mullins is running fast enough by the time we catch up. He’s ready to move again.

At this point in this blog. We’ve hit three spots. Each time I get a few words down and we move. Make that four stops now.

Mullins is sticking with his crankbait. He set yesterday he was going to ride it until the end whether it takes him off a cliff or up the mountain.

Not seeing any cliffs yet. But don’t see any hints of mountains either.

He’s staying resolute. And at the moment we are staying with him. Now off to the fifth stop.

Lineberger knows spotted bass

Shane Lineberger doesn't have a lot of experience on Lake Lanier, but he's got plenty of experience chasing spotted bass on his home waters - Lake Norman. It seems to be paying off. Lineberger moved up from 29th place on Day 1 to a tie for 10th yesterday with a bag of 15-5 and a two-day total of 29-11.

Lineberger is off to a good start today with this 4-pounder.

Card on deck

After leaving Paul Mueller sometime ago, we located Chris Zaldain fishing structure further down the lake. He had three good fish by that time.

He had also attracted a number of spectator boats, but their drivers were keeping their distance. He soon left and apparently added another fish to the livewell for a total of 45-15, good enough for second place.

Not far away we located Brandon Card in a creek channel. Card is 14th with 35-8. Boat driver/photographer Shane Durrance says he is fishing flooded timber in about 50 feet of water in the middle of the creek.

It’s a methodical way to fish, and not very productive at this moment in time. We will stay in hopes that he catches a good one while we’re watching.

Shane got a great photo gallery on Mueller this morning. Take a look. I think you will be impressed.

Mueller's magic

Paul Mueller unloaded a wealth of knowledge just now on Bassmaster LIVE. Most of it was the well deserved accolades he spoke of about the Garmin Panoptix technology and specifically, the LAKEVU HD mapping that displays details down to one-foot contours. What intrigues me the most is just how dialed in he is to interpreting the details of an area when he arrives.

“First, I can see whether or not fish are there and then on the LiveScope just how the fish are behaving,” he explained.

LiveScope is live, real-time scanning sonar that allows the viewer to actually see a lure being retrieved and even a fish following it.

“The benefits are I can see around the spot and tell whether or not the fish are set up the right way, instead of having to waste time trying it out with a lure.”

In other words, whether or not it’s worth the time to drop a lure in at all, or just move on to the next spot.

What else Mueller is doing is a mystery that we’ll soon find out about.

“I’ve got areas where they set up and don’t spook,” he added. “I’m dialed into a certain deal on how to read the maps that are high percentage areas where the fish won’t spook when I catch one from the school.”

Typically, when you catch one fish from a school it sends a warning to the others, making them difficult to catch until they settle back down. That consumes valuable fishing time. Obviously, Mueller is confident that he doesn’t have that to worry about.

Lastly, he made a key switch from fishing a suspended jig to a swimbait fished on the bottom.

“Before, these fish are smart and could look up on the bait, see it, and with the swimbait they don’t have that chance because it’s on the bottom,” he added.

Today is THE day

Both Paul Mueller and Brad Whatley have limits in the boat this morning, and they've come to the same conclusion: Today is going to be THE day on Lake Lanier. The difference is the wind.

"You may see the biggest bag of the tournament today," said Mueller, who already has 14 1/2 pounds in the boat. "When the wind kicks up like this, it may open up some options. These are ideal conditions."

A national champ

Paul Mueller is one of several Elite anglers who worked their way up to the top tier of professional fishing through the bass nation program. He won the national championship in 2014.

He very nearly won the Bassmaster classic in 2014, finishing second by 1 pound.

He told me recently that he guides bass fisherman in order to support his Elite Series career. If he wins the $100,000 first prize in this event, he won’t have to guide so often.

As I was writing this, he filled his limit with a very nice spotted bass. I think it will turn out to be the biggest in his livewell. We will see what BASSTrakk has to say about that.

Mueller has not moved since settling down here first thing this morning. He is on a great hole.

Suns out

The weather has been a surprise this morning. Predictions called for rain this morning. And it fell pretty good.

Depending on which weather service you were looking at it was supposed to stop early and then come and go.

Right now the sun is shining bright and there’s no hint of rain. While we know that could change quickly in these parts. The sun beaming at the moment could really help those fishing off shore.

It’s a reality that Mullins is aware of. He’s already mentioned that he didn’t like the fact the rain didn’t stick around longer.

How this change impacts him remains to be seen. But it’s a good guess he’s praying for some wind to help him in his semi-shallow approach.

Another rod on the deck might help

Mullins said yesterday that he was a “one rod Todd,” sticking strictly to a crankbait.

After watching him yesterday, I can say that’s very accurate. But it might’ve been nice to have at least another rod on the deck a few minutes ago. As Mullins approached a point, fish started breaking.

He had to quickly get in the rod box but by the time he got what he needed the action was short-lived and the fish went back down.

He did pass the point and add number two on his crankbait. That fish came off a subtle point where he caught five or six on almost consecutive casts yesterday.

It only gave up one today. He has two for a total of 4 1/2 to 5 pounds. A little heavier than what BassTrakk shows.

Number four for Mueller

Mueller is on fire. Right now he is fighting his fourth spotted bass in the short time we’ve been in this spot. I think that’s another two in a row on two casts. The last one is a little smaller and he quickly boat-flipped it. But he will keep it at least until he gets five.

A minute ago Stetson Blaylock pulled up to an island not far from the offshore structure Mueller is working.

Blalock was fifth going into the semifinal round today. He told reporters yesterday that he has something going on fairly close to banks but still in deeper water. He said he sees the other anglers fishing farther offshore and thinks he’s in the better spot. From where we sit we will be able to see which theory is right.

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