Fantasy Fishing: You should have picked Mueller at St. Johns

PALATKA, Fla. — The 2020 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River didn’t show out like it has in recent history. Thanks to foul weather that postponed two days of competition, the only three-day derby still produced some impressive bass.

In recent years, the Elites managed to time the trip perfectly around the spawn, and many heavy limits of bass were weighed each day. That was not the case this time around, and some real surprises occurred within the final standings.

Legendary four-time Classic champ Rick Clunn, the champion from the both the previous visits, surprisingly finished at the bottom of the pack. Mark Menendez also struggled at St. Johns.

In fact, the tournament champion Paul Mueller of Naugatuck, Conn., earned his second blue trophy weighing only four fish on the final day. A massive cold front that followed a strong line of storms, which came through early in the event is largely to blame.

But as they always do, someone figured them out. Mueller was that pro, and he was the best performing angler for Bassmaster Fantasy Fishing players, too.

If you missed the first event, don’t let that stop you from signing up. This year, B.A.S.S. has teamed up with Rapala to increase Fantasy payouts with lots of cool prizes paying out to 20th place at each event. That means you can win some cool gear, even if you just signed up or even forgot to fill out a previous roster or two.

The Fantasy champion for the first event was “SWillyJ” who picked a near-perfect team:
Overall Rank: No. 1, total points 1,445

Bucket A: Cliff Prince, 285 points

Bucket B: Patrick Walters, 300

Bucket C: Kelley Jaye, 295

Bucket D: Kyler Welcher, 308

Bucket E: Buddy Gross, 257

Total: 1,445

The perfect team was not selected, but here are the anglers that would have paid out the most points:

Bucket A: Cliff Prince, 284 points

Bucket B: Patrick Walters, 300

Bucket C: Paul Mueller, 310 

Bucket D: Kyler Welcher, 308

Bucket E: Buddy Gross, 257

Total: 1,459

BUCKET A: PRINCE

The hometown favorite, Cliff Prince of Palatka, Fla., finished strong, yet still short of the coveted hometown title. Prince earned 285 points for his loyal 5.7% ownership after a strong fourth-place finish.

Second best selection: Scott Canterbury was the second-highest scoring angler in this bucket. He produced 276 points for his loyal 4.2% ownership after a strong sixth-place finish.

Lowest scoring angler: Lee Livesay was the lowest scoring angler in the top bucket. A surprising finish, but stay confident that he’ll bounce back. Livesay earned his 0.9% ownership 107 points after a difficult 84th-place finish.

BUCKET B: WALTERS

South Carolina pro Patrick Walters showed up again after a stellar rookie debut at St. Johns in early 2019. Walters put up the tournament’s heaviest five-bass limit that weighed 22 pounds and 15 ounces, which earned his ownership 40 bonus points. Walters earned his 12.5% ownership 300 points for a strong 10th-place showing.

Second best selection: John Crews finishes second, but was still the bridesmaid in Bucket B. Walter’s big bag pushed him ahead of Crews in bucket value, however if another day was added to the tournament Crews would have likely won. He earned his 12.9% ownership 295 points for a solid second-place finish.

Lowest scoring angler: Surprisingly, Florida pro Kyle Monti was the lowest-scoring angler in this bucket. He earned his 6.6% ownership 109 points after a tough 83rd-place finish.

BUCKET C: MUELLER

Mueller surprised a lot of Fantasy Fishing players after admittedly not being very effective in Florida. He proved himself wrong, and his loyal 2.7% ownership right by producing 310 points for his victory. Mueller earned 300 points for the win, and five bonus points per day of leadership for a total of two days.

Second best selection: Alabama’s Kelley Jaye was the second-best choice in this bucket after a very strong showing. Jaye earned his 3.6% ownership 295 points after finishing in third place. Jaye fans were awarded five bonus points after he led Day 1 of the event.

Lowest scoring angler: Garrett Paquette struggled at St. Johns having produced only 101 points for his 0.9% ownership after a difficult 87th-place finish.

BUCKET D: WELCHER

Bassmaster rookie Kyler Welcher of Opelika, Ala., surprised the world, and probably himself, with a very strong performance at his first Elite derby. Not only did he produce the most points in this bucket, but he caught the event’s biggest bass — a true St. Johns 10-pounder, which earned his 4.3% ownership 40 bonus points for a total of 308 points after a solid eighth-place finish. See Welcher’s big catch on video here.

Second best selection: Harvey Horne was the second-highest scoring angler in this bucket after a tremendous showing. Horne earned his 0.9% ownership 254 points after finishing in 12th place — his best finish yet.

Lowest scoring angler: Japanese angler Yusuke Miyazaki was the lowest-scoring angler in Bucket D. He earned his 1.6% ownership only 99 points for finishing in last place.

BUCKET E: GROSS

Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Ga., dominated Bucket E with 43.1% ownership, and his loyal fans were well rewarded. Gross earned his base 257 points after a strong 11th-place finish in his first Bassmaster Elite showing.

Second best selection: Japanese rookie Taku Ito surprised Fantasy fans by a strong 21st-place finish that earned his 4.9% ownership 233 points.

Lowest scoring angler: Randy Sullivan endured a difficult tournament and was the lowest-scoring angler in this bucket. He earned his 1.4% ownership 103 points after a tough 86th-finish.

Editor’s note: We at B.A.S.S. are rabid Fantasy Fishing players. During our inner-office Fantasy Fishing competition for the St. Johns event, Bassmaster Social Media Editor Emily Hand beat all of us, and most of you. She finished in 10th place overall — a very impressive finish indeed. We at B.A.S.S. cannot win the prizes, which is a bonus because we’d much rather send you the gear, but we wanted to recognize her greatness. She clearly has some raw talent that we expect her to build on for the remainder of the season. If you’d like to hear more about how Emily picked her team, let us know and we’ll discuss it with her in our next Inside Bassmaster Podcast.

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