CLAYTON, N.Y. Paul Mueller continued his dominant performance Saturday with another big bag of smallmouth bass that weighed 24 pounds, 13 ounces.

Paul Mueller, of Naugatuck, Conn., is leading after Day 3 of the 2020 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River with a three-day total of 76 pounds, 15 ounces. 

                                                                                                Photo by Seigo Saito/B.A.S.S.

Added to his catches of 27-1 on Thursday and 25-1 on Friday, Mueller now has a three-day total of 76-15 that gives him the lead at the SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River for the third straight round.

Sticking with his game plan, the Connecticut pro fished Lake Ontario and targeted rockpiles and breaks but remained shallower than the first two days and caught his fish in about 18 to 27 feet.

“I didn’t really look deep because I was disappointed with the deep fish yesterday,” Mueller said. “I probably could have run around a little more, but you have to make decisions and stick with them.”

Mueller again stuck with the drop shot baited with a Berkley MaxScent Flat Worm in the natural shad color. Great Lakes smallmouth bite plenty of bottom-oriented baits, but an abundance of sharp-shelled zebra mussels create constant perils that Mueller wisely avoided.

“Unless you really get on a high rock, you don’t run the risk of fraying your line above the line tie,” he said. “That’s why the drop shot is so effective because your landing ratio is higher than dragging a tube.”

Mueller noted that one of his keepers bit when he deadsticked his drop shot, meaning he applied no shaking motion. He couldn’t replicate that technique elsewhere, but Mueller noted that an overall strategy of slowing down and committing more time to each location seemed to be the right call.

“I told myself I was going to fish fewer places today, but I was going to fish them thoroughly,” Mueller said. “I did pull up on a fresh spot toward the end of the day and caught two 5-pounders, so that was a critical move.”

Each of Mueller’s keepers clearly mattered, but his third keeper of the day produced a highlight-reel moment. The 4-pounder bit right off the bow and immediately bolted to the back of the boat. Dashing around his outboard engine, the fish became entangled on one of his Power-Poles.

Mueller was able to grab his leader and hand line the fish close enough to scoop it into the boat.

“That was a positive thing because it could have been a disastrous deal, and I felt very blessed to be able to land it,” Mueller said. “The fish literally had about 8 feet of fluorocarbon leader attached to the Power-Pole and there was no way I was freeing it.

“Thankfully, I got my hands on the fish and she was still pretty hot. That was a special fish catch, for sure.”

Day 3 began with calm conditions, but wind and waves increased to bow-splashing levels by late morning. Sunday’s forecast for stronger southwest winds will further agitate Lake Ontario, but Mueller said he knows where he needs to fish.

“If I can go, I’m going to go,” he said. “I have some places I should be able to fish. You have to be smart and you have to be safe. That comes first, but if I can go, it’s a no-brainer.

“I have some spots in the river where I think I could put together a good bag, but the caliber of fish is much better in the lake.”

Chris Johnston of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada is in second place with 74-12. After making a couple of unproductive drifts on his river spot, he spent all day on Lake Ontario where he caught his bass over rockpiles in 20 to 40 feet.

“I changed up baits today and caught six or seven when I changed from a drop shot,” Johnston said of a clandestine move that paid big dividends. “I’ve caught them doing this before. It’s a bottom-contact bait, and they ate it really well.

“You can’t drag like you could on Lake Erie because there’s moss on the bottom. It’s a different presentation.”

Chad Morgenthaler of Reed Springs, Mo., is in third place with 69-15. Focusing on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, he fished a drop shot with a Berkley finesse worm and caught his fish in 20 to 26 feet.

“I have areas and then I have some sweet spots in those areas, and that’s what I’m trying to stay around,” Morgenthaler said. “I’m just easing around with my Garmin LiveScope and looking for them. They might be on a rock, they might be out off the rock on a break.”

Mueller is in the lead for Phoenix Boats Big Bass honors with his 7-13 — a bass that is believed to be the biggest smallmouth ever landed in an Elite Series event and possibly the largest caught in any B.A.S.S. event.

In addition to having his third career Elite Series victory within his grasp, Mueller needs 23-1 to earn one of the coveted Century Belts awarded to anglers who catch at least 100 pounds of bass in an Elite Series event. Johnston is 25-4 away from the 100-pound mark — and if either or both reach the mark, they would be the first to receive Century Belts for totals amassed exclusively with smallmouth.

The Top 10 remaining anglers will take off at 6:45 a.m. ET from the Clayton Antique Boat Museum. The weigh-in will be held back at the museum at 3 p.m., with a $100,000 first-place prize on the line.

Live coverage of the event will be available starting at 7 a.m. on Bassmaster LIVE at Bassmaster.com with simulcasts on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Check local listings for ESPN2 times.

The tournament is being hosted by Jefferson County in cooperation with the Village of Clayton and the 1000 Islands Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

2020 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite At St. Lawrence River Title Sponsor: SiteOne

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Platinum Sponsor: Toyota

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

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

2020 Bassmaster Elite Series Conservation Partners: AFTCO, Huk

2020 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite At St. Lawrence River Local Hosts: Jefferson County, Village of Clayton, 1000 Islands Clayton 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.

2020 SiteOne Bassmaster Elite at St. Lawrence River 7/23-7/26
St. Lawrence River, Clayton  NY.
(PROFESSIONAL) Standings Day 3
   Angler                   Hometown              No./lbs-oz  Pts   Total $$$

1.  Paul Mueller           Naugatuck, CT           15  76-15  100   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   27-01     Day 2: 5   25-01     Day 3: 5   24-13
2.  Chris Johnston         Peterborough Ontario CA 15  74-12   99   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   27-00     Day 2: 5   24-12     Day 3: 5   23-00
3.  Chad Morgenthaler      Reeds Spring, MO        15  69-15   98
Day 1: 5   23-06     Day 2: 5   24-01     Day 3: 5   22-08
4.  Clark Wendlandt        Leander, TX             15  66-10   97
Day 1: 5   26-03     Day 2: 5   21-10     Day 3: 5   18-13
5.  Brock Mosley           Collinsville, MS        15  64-03   96   $1,000.00
Day 1: 5   24-02     Day 2: 5   19-13     Day 3: 5   20-04
6.  Cory Johnston          Cavan CANADA            15  64-02   95
Day 1: 5   19-07     Day 2: 5   19-03     Day 3: 5   25-08
7.  Taku Ito               Chiba JAPAN             15  63-08   94
Day 1: 5   20-08     Day 2: 5   23-00     Day 3: 5   20-00
8.  Micah Frazier          Newnan, GA              15  62-04   93
Day 1: 5   22-12     Day 2: 5   19-13     Day 3: 5   19-11
9.  Brad Whatley           Bivins, TX              15  60-09   92
Day 1: 5   19-06     Day 2: 5   19-08     Day 3: 5   21-11
10. Brandon Palaniuk       Rathdrum, ID            15  59-12   91
Day 1: 5   17-08     Day 2: 5   21-15     Day 3: 5   20-05
11. Chris Zaldain          Fort Worth, TX          15  59-09   90  $12,000.00
Day 1: 5   17-10     Day 2: 5   20-14     Day 3: 5   21-01
12. Jeff Gustafson         Keewatin Ontario CANADA 15  58-03   89  $12,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-06     Day 2: 5   23-02     Day 3: 5   18-11
13. Steve Kennedy          Auburn, AL              15  57-00   88  $12,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-03     Day 2: 5   17-14     Day 3: 5   17-15
14. Garrett Paquette       Canton, MI              15  57-00   87  $12,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-00     Day 2: 5   18-05     Day 3: 5   20-11
15. Bernie Schultz         Gainesville, FL         15  56-12   86  $12,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-12     Day 2: 5   21-01     Day 3: 5   18-15
16. Matt Herren            Ashville, AL            15  56-11   85  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-11     Day 2: 5   17-13     Day 3: 5   20-03
17. Greg DiPalma           Millville, NJ           15  56-00   84  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   20-00     Day 2: 5   20-07     Day 3: 5   15-09
18. Seth Feider            New Market, MN          15  55-04   83  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-05     Day 2: 5   19-03     Day 3: 5   16-12
19. Brian Snowden          Reeds Spring, MO        15  54-14   82  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-04     Day 2: 5   20-02     Day 3: 5   15-08
20. Carl Jocumsen          Queensland TN AUSTRALIA 15  54-03   81  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   13-13     Day 2: 5   21-14     Day 3: 5   18-08
21. Hunter Shryock         Newcomerstown, OH       15  54-01   80  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-08     Day 2: 5   18-06     Day 3: 5   14-03
22. Mike Huff              Corbin, KY              15  53-10   79  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   21-08     Day 2: 5   19-08     Day 3: 5   12-10
23. Clifford Pirch         Payson, AZ              15  53-04   78  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   24-12     Day 2: 5   19-06     Day 3: 5   09-02
24. Cliff Prince           Palatka, FL             15  52-15   77  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-06     Day 2: 5   18-03     Day 3: 5   16-06
25. Austin Felix           Eden Prairie, MN        15  52-08   76  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   20-05     Day 2: 5   13-13     Day 3: 5   18-06
26. Clent Davis            Montevallo, AL          15  52-03   75  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-04     Day 2: 5   13-12     Day 3: 5   19-03
27. Jamie Hartman          Newport, NY             15  52-00   74  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   16-00     Day 2: 5   17-08     Day 3: 5   18-08
28. Ed Loughran III        Richmond, VA            15  52-00   73  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-04     Day 2: 5   17-14     Day 3: 5   15-14
29. Chad Pipkens           Dewitt, MI              15  51-15   72  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   17-08     Day 2: 5   21-07     Day 3: 5   13-00
30. Brandon Card           Salisbury, NC           15  51-11   71  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-07     Day 2: 5   14-15     Day 3: 5   18-05
31. Drew Benton            Blakely, GA             15  51-06   70  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-14     Day 2: 5   19-11     Day 3: 5   15-13
32. Bill Lowen             Brookville, IN          15  51-02   69  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   15-02     Day 2: 5   18-09     Day 3: 5   17-07
33. Skylar Hamilton        Dandridge, TN           15  50-01   68  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   19-10     Day 3: 5   16-02
34. Randy Sullivan         Breckenridge, TX        15  49-14   67  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-13     Day 2: 5   14-14     Day 3: 5   16-03
35. Buddy Gross            Chickamauga, GA         15  49-07   66  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   19-12     Day 2: 5   14-01     Day 3: 5   15-10
36. Ray Hanselman Jr       Del Rio, TX             15  49-06   65  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-05     Day 2: 5   18-12     Day 3: 5   16-05
37. David Mullins          Mt Carmel, TN           15  49-01   64  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   20-02     Day 2: 5   18-08     Day 3: 5   10-07
38. Frank Talley           Temple, TX              14  48-14   63  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   14-02     Day 2: 5   19-14     Day 3: 4   14-14
39. Caleb Kuphall          Mukwonago, WI           15  47-04   62  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   18-10     Day 2: 5   15-13     Day 3: 5   12-13
40. Bob Downey             Hudson, WI              15  42-13   61  $10,000.00
Day 1: 5   17-05     Day 2: 5   17-15     Day 3: 5   07-09
———————————————————————–

PHOENIX BOATS BIG BASS
Day
1   Paul Mueller             Naugatuck, CT       07-13      $1,000.00
2   Chris Johnston           Peterborough Ontario CANADA06-05      $1,000.00
3   Brock Mosley             Collinsville, MS    06-10      $1,000.00

———————————————————————–
Totals
Day   #Limits    #Fish      Weight
1        83       423      1443-11
2        76       412      1364-09
3        39       199       699-02
———————————-
198      1034      3507-06