Since David Mullins had just posted a photo of his graphs showing bass hanging around stumps, it was assumed he was out on the water keeping tuned up for a meaningful season finale.
“No, I don’t fish at home,” the seventh-year Bassmaster Elite Series pro said when contacted at his Mt. Carmel, Tenn., home. “Why would you want to? That’s why I get my brains beat in all the time, because I don’t fish enough.”
Maybe he’s not fished enough, but he’s fished well enough to lead the Bassmaster Angler of the Year standings heading into the final event, the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest benefiting Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at Lake Fork, Nov. 5-8. The 38-year-old knows he has a shot to join 24 others who have held the coveted Bassmaster AOY title.
He’s approaching it rather practically, but not necessarily realistically, like it’s still too early to consider. After clearing up where he was, he inquired why the call: “What you got?”
“You know what I’m calling you about.”
First question: How has Mullins, who hasn’t finished among the top 20 in points until last season, gotten into position to win the 51st Bassmaster AOY?
“A lot of difference is I finally got through the Northern Swing,” Mullins said. “The first few years I would do well till I got in that Northern Swing, then I’d fall off the earth. Especially when you go up north and struggle to catch 14 pounds and everybody else is catching 20.
“It’s just more comfortable now. Just being in it six, or seven years, it’s time I should start getting more comfortable. This year I had a really strong Northern Swing, and that’s pretty much what’s made the difference.”
In this revised season because of COVID-19, Mullins stood 28th in the AOY points when the circuit was put on hold before heading north for three events. On the St. Lawrence River, Mullins’ 37th was his best by far in five shots there, but he actually dropped two AOY spots. He followed it with a fourth-place finish at Lake Champlain — an improvement of 103 spots from the 2017 Elite there — and climbed to 16th in the standings.
Then Mullins narrowly missed another Top 10 on Lake St. Clair, but his 11th shot him to fifth in points and seriously in the hunt for AOY.