Paul Mueller Takes Day Two Lead at 2020 Elite Series St. Johns River

Lews Fishing
Atlas Jack Plate
Bucks Falcon Mercury
Bucks Skeeter Yamaha
Lews Fishing
MonsterTopAd
Power Pole
Strike King

Paul Mueller Leads Day Two of 2020 Bassmaster Elite Series St Johns River – photo by Seigo Saito – B.A.S.S.

PALATKA, Fla. — Two days of persistence and adaptation have landed Paul Mueller in the lead at the AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River heading into Championship Monday. 

 

Mueller, the veteran Elite Series pro from Naugatuck, Conn., caught a five-bass limit that weighed 16 pounds, 2 ounces during Sunday’s second round. Added to his first-round catch of 20-8, it gave him a two-day total of 36-10.

 

He leads second-place angler Kelley Jaye of Dadeville, Ala., (35-10) by 1 pound.

 

Mueller, who earned his first Elite victory last year at Georgia’s Lake Lanier went in the opposite direction of most his competitors. While most anglers fished south of the Palatka City Dock and Boat Ramp, Mueller committed his day to the same creek he fished Saturday, well north of the takeoff site.

 

The day began slowly, but Mueller said he believed in his area enough to keep casting the Strike King Hack Attack swim jig trailed with a Zoom Speed Craw that produced his Day 1 bag. He steadily picked up keepers before finding a day-making 6-4 largemouth.

 

“What a key bite; that fish anchored my weight,” he said. “I made an adjustment at the end of the day and that was it. I caught the majority of my fish earlier on the swim jig, but I just couldn’t get a big bite, so I started punching a 3-inch junebug-color craw with a 1-ounce tungsten weight.

 

“I felt like the fish moved under the mats. There wasn’t as much water in the place I was fishing as there was on Day 1, but I felt like if I could find a mat with enough water on it, there would be a big fish there.”

 

Notably, Mueller said the spot that produced his 6-4 was approximately 10 yards from where he lost an estimated 8-pounder on Day 1. Describing his kicker as a classic prespawn fish, Mueller said the positioning told him the chunky bass was staging for a shallow move.

 

“There was a little point in the mat next to a little piece of wood on a transition of where the creek channel swung in to the bank,” he said. “The fish could spawn anywhere left or right in those pads.”

 

Despite warmer conditions than Day 1, Mueller said he did not believe many fish had started recovering from the week’s cold front. One possible explanation could be that the strong winds that postponed the tournament’s start by two days had blown a lot of water out of his area.

 

“I thought more fish would show up today but it was tough,” he said. “I think the key was that the water level was lower than it should be. If it comes up tomorrow, a few more fish could be positioned right where I can catch them. I think some of those big fish are out deep and when it gets right, they move up.”

 

Jaye, who started the day in first place with a 15-ounce lead, slipped to second with 35-10. 

 

Adding 14-3 to his Day 1 bag of 21-7, he stuck with the same game plan — throwing a jerkbait over a spring. His bag included a 4-pounder, but he lost one possibly larger on the same area that produced a 9-pounder Saturday.

 

“I had another place I could go catch a couple of keepers, but I’m trying to win and I knew I was where the big fish are,” Jaye said. “I figured if I caught one there, it would be equal to two I’d catch somewhere else.

 

“The channel bend comes around close to the reed line and it’s easy access for the fish to move right up to the reeds to feed. I lost that big one and I lost another one on a worm on a laydown. I had my opportunities and that’s all you can ask for — to stay within striking distance, and that’s where we are.”

 

Jake Whitaker of Fairview, N.C., proved that consistency matters, as he added 16-3 to the 16-12 he weighed on Day 1 to take third with 32-15. 

 

Fishing a wacky-rigged green pumpkin magic Bizz Baits Sassy Stick in a protected canal, Whitaker lost a 6-pounder on camera, but later redeemed himself by catching one of equal size.

 

“What could have been is always in the back of your mind, but I’m happy with how the day went,” Whitaker said. “I caught my fifth fish 30 minutes before check-in. There are definitely some big fish in that area, so I’m going to go back in there tomorrow and do the exact same thing.”

 

Elite Series rookie Kyle Welcher of Opelika, Ala., took the lead in the race for Phoenix Boats Big Bass of the week with a 10-1 largemouth.

 

The Top 20 remaining anglers will fish Monday with a $100,000 first-place paycheck on the line. Takeoff is scheduled for 6:45 a.m. ET at Palatka City Dock and Boat Ramp. The weigh-in will be held at Palatka Riverfront Park at 2 p.m.

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series St. Johns River Title Sponsor: AFTCO

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Premier Sponsors: Abu Garcia, Berkley, Humminbird, Mercury, Minn Kota, Nitro Boats, Power-Pole, Skeeter Boats, Talon, Triton Boats, Yamaha

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Supporting Sponsors: Bass Pro Shops, Carhartt, Garmin, HUK Performance Fishing, Mossy Oak Fishing, Rapala

2020 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite At St. Johns River Local Hosts: Putnam County Tourist Development Council and Putnam County Chamber of Commerce

About B.A.S.S.
B.A.S.S. is the worldwide authority on bass fishing and keeper of the culture of the sport, providing cutting edge content on bass fishing whenever, wherever and however bass fishing fans want to use it. Headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., the 515,000-member organization’s fully integrated media platforms include the industry’s leading magazines (Bassmaster and B.A.S.S. Times), website (Bassmaster.com), television show (The Bassmasters on ESPN2 and The Pursuit Channel), radio show (Bassmaster Radio), social media programs and events. For more than 50 years, B.A.S.S. has been dedicated to access, conservation and youth fishing.

The Bassmaster Tournament Trail includes the most prestigious events at each level of competition, including the Bassmaster Elite Series, Basspro.com Bassmaster Opens Series, TNT Fireworks B.A.S.S. Nation Series, Carhartt Bassmaster College Series presented by Bass Pro Shops, Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series presented by Academy Sports + Outdoors, Bassmaster Team Championship, new Huk Bassmaster B.A.S.S. Nation Kayak Series powered by TourneyX presented by Abu Garcia and the ultimate celebration of competitive fishing, the Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic presented by Huk.

2020 AFTCO Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River 2/8-2/11
St. Johns River, Palatka  FL.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 2

Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT           10  36-10  100
Day 1: 5   20-08     Day 2: 5   16-02
2.  Kelley Jaye            Dadeville, AL           10  35-10   99   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-07     Day 2: 5   14-03
3.  Jake Whitaker          Fairview, NC            10  32-15   98
Day 1: 5   16-12     Day 2: 5   16-03
4.  Kyle Welcher           Opelika, AL             10  32-09   97   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-13     Day 2: 5   20-12
5.  Patrick Walters        Summerville, SC         10  32-08   96
Day 1: 5   09-09     Day 2: 5   22-15
6.  John Crews Jr          Salem, VA               10  32-02   95
Day 1: 5   16-13     Day 2: 5   15-05
7.  Buddy Gross            Chickamauga, GA         10  31-03   94
Day 1: 5   15-05     Day 2: 5   15-14
8.  Scott Canterbury       Odenville, AL           10  30-04   93
Day 1: 5   17-14     Day 2: 5   12-06
9.  Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX              9  28-03   92
Day 1: 5   20-00     Day 2: 4   08-03
10. Jay Yelas              Lincoln City, OR        10  28-00   91
Day 1: 5   13-15     Day 2: 5   14-01
11. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL               8  27-14   90
Day 1: 5   19-00     Day 2: 3   08-14
12. Stetson Blaylock       Benton, AR              10  27-12   89
Day 1: 5   11-01     Day 2: 5   16-11
13. Drew Cook              Midway, FL              10  27-08   88
Day 1: 5   09-10     Day 2: 5   17-14
14. Todd Auten             Lake Wylie, SC          10  27-04   87
Day 1: 5   17-11     Day 2: 5   09-09
15. Matt Arey              Shelby, NC              10  26-14   86
Day 1: 5   16-02     Day 2: 5   10-12
16. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY             10  26-03   85
Day 1: 5   07-14     Day 2: 5   18-05
17. Harvey Horne           Bella Vista, AR          9  25-15   84
Day 1: 4   08-07     Day 2: 5   17-08
18. Robbie Latuso          Gonzales, LA            10  25-13   83
Day 1: 5   17-05     Day 2: 5   08-08
19. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            10  25-11   82
Day 1: 5   10-05     Day 2: 5   15-06
20. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL             10  25-06   81
Day 1: 5   10-10     Day 2: 5   14-12
21. Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN             10  25-05   80  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   08-09     Day 2: 5   16-12
22. Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA              10  25-01   79  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-10     Day 2: 5   12-07
23. Cody Hollen            Beaverton, OR            6  23-01   78  $10,000.00
Day 1: 1   03-06     Day 2: 5   19-11
24. Randy Pierson          Oakdale, CA              9  21-10   77  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   11-11     Day 2: 5   09-15
25. Drew Benton            Blakely, GA             10  21-10   76  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-09     Day 2: 5   10-01
26. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN           10  21-09   75  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 5   09-04
27. Bryan Schmitt          Deale, MD               10  21-08   74  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   11-04     Day 2: 5   10-04
28. Keith Combs            Huntington, TX          10  21-07   73  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   09-08     Day 2: 5   11-15
29. Chad Pipkens           Lansing, MI             10  21-00   72  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   09-09     Day 2: 5   11-07
30. Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX               9  20-15   71  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   10-08     Day 2: 5   10-07
31. Jason Williamson       Wagener, SC              8  20-14   70  $10,000.00
Day 1: 3   08-06     Day 2: 5   12-08
32. Wes Logan              Springville, AL          9  20-13   69  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-11     Day 2: 4   07-02
33. John Cox               Debary, FL               4  20-12   68  $10,000.00
Day 1: 1   06-14     Day 2: 3   13-14
34. Luke Palmer            Coalgate, OK             9  20-05   67  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   11-02     Day 2: 5   09-03
35. Brandon Lester         Fayetteville, TN         5  19-14   66  $10,000.00
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 5   19-14
36. Shane LeHew            Catawba, NC             10  19-13   65  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   07-13     Day 2: 5   12-00
37. Brandon Card           Knoxville, TN           10  19-10   64  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   07-14     Day 2: 5   11-12
38. Rick Morris            Lake Gaston, VA          7  19-08   63  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-11     Day 2: 2   03-13
39. Chris Groh             Spring Grove, IL         9  19-08   62  $10,000.00
Day 1: 4   08-11     Day 2: 5   10-13
40. Destin DeMarion        Grove City, PA           9  19-03   61  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   09-14     Day 2: 4   09-05
41. Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA  8  19-00   60   $7,500.00
Day 1: 3   04-04     Day 2: 5   14-12
42. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL           9  18-09   59   $7,500.00
Day 1: 5   10-05     Day 2: 4   08-04
43. Brandon Cobb           Greenwood, SC            6  18-03   58   $7,500.00
Day 1: 1   01-04     Day 2: 5   16-15
44. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland TN AUSTRALIA  7  18-03   57   $7,500.00
Day 1: 5   11-11     Day 2: 2   06-08
45. David Fritts           Lexington, NC            7  18-02   56   $7,500.00
Day 1: 3   07-05     Day 2: 4   10-13
46. Jesse Tacoronte        Kissimmee, FL           10  18-02   55   $5,000.00
Day 1: 5   08-10     Day 2: 5   09-08
47. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN           7  18-00   54   $5,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-04     Day 2: 2   04-12
48. Caleb Sumrall          New Iberia, LA           8  18-00   53   $5,000.00
Day 1: 5   10-10     Day 2: 3   07-06
49. Koby Kreiger           Alva, FL                 9  18-00   52   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   07-08     Day 2: 5   10-08
50. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              10  18-00   51   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   07-12     Day 2: 5   10-04
51. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL             7  17-14   50   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   07-14     Day 2: 2   10-00
52. Gerald Swindle         Guntersville, AL         7  17-06   49   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-03     Day 2: 2   04-03
53. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX              7  17-04   48   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   04-01     Day 2: 5   13-03
54. Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO         8  17-00   47   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   13-09     Day 2: 3   03-07
55. Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA             9  16-08   46   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   06-09     Day 2: 5   09-15
56. Hank Cherry Jr         Lincolnton, NC           7  16-02   45   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   02-08     Day 2: 5   13-10
57. Shane Lineberger       Lincolnton, NC           7  16-02   44   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   08-13     Day 2: 3   07-05
58. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO         6  16-01   43   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   06-03     Day 2: 3   09-14
59. Brett Preuett          Monroe, LA               8  16-00   42   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   12-05     Day 2: 3   03-11
60. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA             6  14-15   41   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   01-13     Day 2: 5   13-02
61. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI            5  14-13   40   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   10-09     Day 2: 2   04-04
62. Mark Menendez          Paducah, KY              8  13-11   39   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   06-07     Day 2: 5   07-04
63. Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS         6  13-10   38   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   07-09     Day 2: 3   06-01
64. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN         7  12-05   37   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   08-12     Day 2: 3   03-09
65. Frank Talley           Temple, TX               5  12-01   36   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   03-03     Day 2: 3   08-14
66. Hunter Shryock         Newcomerstown, OH        5  12-00   35   $2,500.00
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 5   12-00
67. Seth Feider            New Market, MN           8  11-01   34   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   05-06     Day 2: 4   05-11
68. Mike Huff              Corbin, KY               5  10-02   33   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   03-01     Day 2: 3   07-01
69. Tyler Carriere         Youngsville, LA          6  10-01   32   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   08-12     Day 2: 1   01-05
70. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN            5  09-06   31   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   09-06     Day 2: 0   00-00
71. Chris Johnston         Peterborough Ontario CA  5  09-05   30   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   04-08     Day 2: 2   04-13
72. Rob Digh               Denver, NC               6  09-00   29   $2,500.00
Day 1: 5   07-04     Day 2: 1   01-12
73. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL          4  09-00   28   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   04-11     Day 2: 2   04-05
74. Tyler Rivet            Raceland, LA             5  08-05   27   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   02-11     Day 2: 3   05-10
75. Rick Clunn             Ava, MO                  4  08-03   26   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   05-02     Day 2: 1   03-01
76. Bill Weidler           Helena, AL               5  08-02   25   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   03-07     Day 2: 4   04-11
77. Dale Hightower         Mannford, OK             6  07-15   24   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   01-00     Day 2: 5   06-15
78. Derek Hudnall          Baton Rouge, LA          5  07-15   23   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   01-06     Day 2: 4   06-09
79. Greg DiPalma           Millville, NJ            4  06-06   22   $2,500.00
Day 1: 3   04-00     Day 2: 1   02-06
80. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX           4  06-01   21   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   01-05     Day 2: 3   04-12
81. Quentin Cappo          Prairieville, LA         5  05-15   20   $2,500.00
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 5   05-15
82. Bob Downey             Hudson, WI               4  05-13   19   $2,500.00
Day 1: 4   05-13     Day 2: 0   00-00
83. Kyle Monti             Okeechobee, FL           3  05-11   18   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   03-03     Day 2: 1   02-08
84. Lee Livesay            Gladewater, TX           2  05-03   17   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   03-06     Day 2: 1   01-13
85. Gary Clouse            Winchester, TN           2  04-01   16   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   04-01     Day 2: 0   00-00
86. Randy Sullivan         Breckenridge, TX         2  03-12   15   $2,500.00
Day 1: 0   00-00     Day 2: 2   03-12
87. Garrett Paquette       Canton, MI               3  03-12   14   $2,500.00
Day 1: 2   02-13     Day 2: 1   00-15
88. Yusuke Miyazaki        Forney, TX               2  03-05   13   $2,500.00
Day 1: 1   02-06     Day 2: 1   00-15
———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        44       322       762-08
2        47       332       831-07
———————————-
91       654      1593-15