UPCOMING EVENT: PHOENIX BASS FISHING LEAGUE - 2020 - Lake Lanier

Mueller makes it happen

Mueller makes it happen
In his third Forrest Wood Cup appearance, Connecticut co-angler Paul Mueller secured his first win on Lake Ouachita.

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Cliched as it may sound, the third time really was the charm for Paul Mueller, whose third appearance in the Forrest Wood Cup ended victoriously for the Southbury, Conn., co-angler.

Paired with deep-water specialist and National Guard pro Mark Rose, Mueller found himself fishing a Lake Ouachita ledge that dropped from about 10 feet to 15. He started out working the deeper edge with a drop-shot and then adjusted to the day's conditions by switching to a swimbait.

"I caught a few keepers on (the drop-shot), but because it was cloudy and it started to rain, I knew IPaul Mueller was the only co-angler to catch a day-three limit. needed to make a change," Mueller said. "So I used a 4-inch Reins Fat Rock Vibe Shad swimbait. Bluegill was the color, and I fished that on a 3/8-ounce jighead on 15-pound-test Berkley 100-percent fluorocarbon and a 7-foot Dobyns swimbait rod."

With bigger fish suspending in schools over the ledge, Mueller needed to cover lots of water and find the willing ones. The swimbait produced three of his weight fish to complement the pair he caught early in the day on a drop-shot. Two of his swimbait fish came a few minutes apart, with the third following about an hour later.

"The (catches) were spread throughout the day," he said. "The only flurry we had was when Mark Co-angler winner Paul Mueller reacts to the news of his victory.caught a couple on a swimbait and a crankbait and I ended up getting two on the swimbait. But other than that, it was very spotty."

Mueller said an unhurried, meticulous job worked best: "I was just slow-rolling it. I was just barely turning the handle of the reel. I'd let the bait slow-roll off the drop-off, and as soon as it came off the drop-off, they'd hit it."

Adding to the 8-12 and 10-10 he weighed on days one and two, Mueller bagged the heaviest weight of day three - 9-1 - and finished with a winning total of 28-7. Although catching the day's only co-angler limit was clearly important to his win, Mueller said he was not sure if he was carrying enough weight to the final weigh-in.

"I thought I needed one big bite," he said. "I was looking for that all day, and it never came. I'm justRanger Boats founder Forrest Wood presents his namesake trophy to top co-angler Paul Mueller. happy that I had enough."

Mueller said his Cup win could provide the spark - and capital, with a $60,000 payday - he needs to launch a career as a bass pro: "I want to fish as a professional, whether it's the EverStart Series or the FLW Tour. I'll have to look at the numbers and see what I can afford, but I'll definitely consider it."

Bait change lifts Hults to second

For two days, Mississippi co-angler Chris Hults caught his fish on a Super Spook Jr. in flitter-shad color. He gave that bait another shot today, but when the productivity fizzled, he made a bait change that Switching to a more subtle topwater bait helped Chris Hults move up to second place.changed the course of his day.

"I fished (the Spook) for about three hours this morning and had one bite, and he just barely nipped at it and I missed him," Hults said. "Something just didn't seem right. The area we fished looked totally different than the areas I'd fished the previous two days, so I started throwing a Lucky Craft Gunfish, and that's what I ended up catching my three keepers on."

Hults' day-three trio weighed 6-12 and pushed his tournament total to 27-5 worth $15,000. The subtle action of the Gunfish, he said, was what made the difference for him.

"The bait had a lot less noise," he said. "The water was a lot clearer - it was a different color than what I'd fished the last two days. Today, we were around rock and gravel banks, but the day before, it was mud and grass banks, so there were some different things going on."

Loading his Shimano Curado reels with 15-pound Berkley Big Game line enabled the long casts he needed to reach schooling fish.

Cummins gains a notch to third

Paired with Tennessee pro Andy Morgan, Jeffrey Cummins found himself struggling to keep pace withAdapting to his pro a blistering power-fishing regimen.

"Andy Morgan is a great fisherman, but he is fast!" Cummins said. "It was trolling speed. He was throwing topwaters and going 2 mph or faster. I've never fished with anyone who fishes that fast, so it took me a long time to figure out how I could fish."

Cummins did his best to maximize the narrow windows of opportunity by fishing a Texas-rigged 10-inch Zoom Old Monster (plum color) and picking his spots judiciously.

Finishing with a third-place total of 27-3 worth $12,500, Cummins had the most dramatic comeback of the tournament. A dismal day one found him in 46th place with 2 pounds, 6 ounces. However, day two saw Cummins sack up a limit of 17-11 - the biggest co-angler bag of the tournament - and blast his way up the standings to fourth place. Today, he added three fish for 7-2.

"It feels great - words can't describe it," Cummins said of his comeback.

Shuffield drops to fourth

After another disappointing day, Spencer Shuffield ended up in fourth place.Spencer Shuffield of Bismarck, Ark., took the day-one lead with 14-8, but then struggled through two disappointing days in which he managed just 6-12 and 5-11. Buoyed by the strength of his first day's performance, Shuffield managed to finish fourth with 26-15 and earn $10,000.

"It was terrible today," Shuffield said. "I didn't have a fish until 1:30. I finally caught my first one, and I lost a 2-pounder at 2 o'clock. At the time, I knew it was going to hurt me, but I was hoping I'd still stay in the top 10.

"In the last 20 minutes, I caught two almost 2 1/2-pounders. After getting here and hearing what everybody else had, I knew that (lost) fish was going to kill me. I only needed a pound and a half to win, and that was a 2-pounder."

Shuffield caught his fish on drop-shots. He used 8-pound Berkley Spiderwire main line, 8-pound Berkley 100-percent fluorocarbon leader, 3/8-ounce weight and a green-pumpkin Roboworm.

Stines finishes fifth

Patrick Stines of Granger, Ind., opened his tournament effort with an 11th-place catch of 8-14 on dayAfter two days of fishing shaky heads and dropshots, fifth-place co-angler Patrick Stines switched to topwaters on day three. one. The next day, he improved to fifth with 11-2. Day three was much slower for Stines, who weighed two fish for 4-15 and ended fifth with a three-day total of 24-15 worth $9,000.

For the past two days, he had used a drop-shot and ¼-ounce shaky head with a green-pumpkin Zoom trick worm, but today Stines switched to topwaters. He threw a Zara Spook and a Lucky Craft bait.

"In the morning, we caught them one here, one there, but in the evening, we caught schooling fish," he said. "I just couldn't keep them on. They were coming up so excited that they would shake off."

Best of the rest

Rounding out the top 10 co-angler finalists at the Forrest Wood Cup:

6th: Shane Winchester of Glasgow, Ky., 22-4, $8,000
7th: Mike Helton of Jeffersonville, Ind., 21-11, $7,000
8th: Matthew Nadeau of Grass Valley, Calif., 20-12, $6,000
9th: Ralph Mulleins of Cumberland, Va., 18-13, $5,000
10th: Matt Hults of Gautier, Miss., 18-8, $4,000

Tags: david-a-brown  co-angler-headline  2011-08-11-forrest-wood-cup-lake-ouachita 

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