Paul Mueller is not shy about sharing his faith in God. He believes it has fueled his success in bass fishing, including winning the last Elite event on Lake Lanier, let alone his life.
When he set the one-day weight record for a Bassmaster Classic, the 34-year-old from Naugatuck, Conn., told the world about it: “The secret to my success is my faith,” he said in 2014. “I believe that Jesus died for our sins, and when you believe, you’re safe. I just love telling people about it. That’s why God put me on this platform.”
A re-commitment to his faith in his early 20s put Mueller on the right path, and he’s been gaining experience and ground ever since. His climb reached a pinnacle when a “perfect storm” occurred in the Toyota Bassmaster Elite on Lake Lanier, allowing him to claim his first blue trophy.
One major inspiration was the proverb that popped up on his Bible app on the morning of Day 3. Psalm 35:7 reads:
Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him and he shall bring it to pass.
On Day 4, he wrote most of it down on his hand with a Sharpie – then he lived it.
“I just felt like it was something that God was sending to me,” Mueller said. “Basically, what it felt like God was telling me was to just keep your focus on Him this week, no matter how tough the day may get. No matter what kind of obstacles, even if things don’t go your way.”
After starting seventh on Day 1, Mueller’s deep-water tactics played out with a big bag of spotted bass weighing 18 pounds, 4 ounces, which put him second. Day 3 was tougher, and with only had 15-9, Mueller fell to third, 1-1 behind leader Chris Zaldain.
“As tournament anglers, we have a tendency to build up momentum, positive and negative,” Muller said. “If you’re having a bad day, a lot of times you kind of get negative, even though you know you shouldn’t. It’s natural. It happens to everybody.
“It was an up-and-down deal, a lot of changes. Every day was different. I didn’t execute on the third day, and I was very frustrated. I didn’t want to carry that into the fourth day. So that’s why that Bible verse was even more important. God was telling me to just focus on Him, trust that he’s got it under control, and he shall bring it to pass.
“For me, it was going to bring the tournament to pass. I felt like I had that confidence that I could win the tournament when I saw that on Day 3.”