Paul Mueller had a good feeling about lthe last Elite derby, the 2019 Toyota Bassmaster Elite at Lake Lanier.
In a cold-water situation where the target species was Lanier's famed spotted bass, Mueller had a couple of weapons in his tacklebox he knew could potentially separate him from most of the field.
And when the 34-year-old Connecticut angler boated a 5 1/4-pounder and a 4-pounder late in the day Sunday, he had done just that. Mueller's 18-pound, 8-ounce final day gave him a four-day total of 69 pounds, his first victory on the prestigious Elite Series circuit, a trophy nearly as big as his young son Waylon and a check for $100,000.
"It's pretty special," Mueller said. "I had fished Lanier once before as a co-angler in the Forest Wood Cup in 2010. Fishing was tough that time of year, in August, but I really liked the lake. Sometimes when you go to certain lakes you just kind of click with a lake, and you feel like it's a special lake.
"I was excited to come down here and fish it because I knew I could get comfortable with it in a couple of days,” he said. "When you're fishing against these guys at this level, if you can get comfortable quick you're going to fish better. With what I knew and the research I did, I knew it was going to set up in my wheelhouse.
"It's even more special when you can win a tournament on a bait or a jighead that you created. It has a different feeling to it than winning with something you can buy."