Mueller went from hero to zero

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — Paul Mueller knew exactly how to recap his two days on Lake Guntersville. After leading the Academy Sports + Outdoors Elite Tournament on Friday with 22 pounds, 14 ounces, he zeroed on Saturday and finished 68th.

“It summed up competitive bass fishing – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows,” said the 35-year old pro from Naugatuck, Conn. “Yesterday I could do no wrong. Today I could do no right.”

Mueller noted that he ran into some of the problems that you expect on highly-pressured lakes like Guntersville. Other anglers, both locals and Elite pros, were on some of his key spots from Day 1. And he couldn’t make anything happen anywhere else while concentrating on ledges.

“I never got rattled,” he said. “I don’t have any excuses. I figured I could adjust and find something new. I thought about going conservative, going shallow and fishing for 10 pounds. But if you do that, you’ve got no shot at catching 20 pounds. That’s how ledge-fishing works sometimes. It’s feast or famine. I ran around so much that I actually ran out of gas. I trolled up to the check-in.

“After all was said and done and I saw the standings, I said, ‘You dummy, you should have fished for 9 or 10 pounds.’ My main focus now is don’t carry the negative into the next event. This is an up and down game.”

Mueller understands that as well as anyone, with this season being a prime example. He started it with a 62nd-place finish at Florida’s St. Johns River. He rebounded to record his first Elite Series victory in the next tournament at Georgia’s Lake Lanier.

“I’ve just got to erase this on go on to the next one,” Mueller said.