Obviously, David Mullins is sick of finishing second at Douglas Lake. The Mount Carmel, Tenn., angler, who finished second in 2014 and 2013 Bassmaster Opens here, will take a 7-pound, 7-ounce lead into Saturday’s Top 12 final of the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open at Douglas Lake.
For the second day in a row, Mullins topped 20 pounds with a five-bass limit. His total of 22-2 today, plus 21-5 from Thursday gives him a two-day total of 43-7. Kyle Glasgow Jr. of Guin, Ala., is second with 36-0.
Mullins, who competes on the Bassmaster Elite Series, had a big bass of 4 pounds, 12 ounces, and four more 4-pounders to go with it. He said he caught about 20 keepers Friday.
“It was another history deal,” said Mullins, who grew up fishing Douglas Lake. “We used to sack ’em a lot on this spot. But they don’t get on it good now. The wind was coming across it making some current. I idled over it one time, and they were there. I culled about everything I had.”
Mullins won’t let himself get cocky, even with the big lead.
“When you grow up here, you can’t be overconfident,” he said. “Each day is different in east Tennessee. You pretty much have to wake up and go with it. That’s the way these lakes fish.”
Mullins also earned the Livingston Lures Leader Award of $250 for leading Day 2.
Glasgow was in second place after Thursday, trailing by less than two pounds. But he struggled today.
“I only caught six fish,” he said. “It was really hard to get bites. I stayed on one spot until the last hour. Mullins is going to be hard to catch.”
However, a couple of anglers believe they can do just that. One of them is Jesse Wiggins of Cullman, Ala. He jumped from 33rd place to third with the biggest bag of the tournament. It totaled 22-7, anchored by the biggest bass of the event, a 6-pound, 15-ounce largemouth.
“I knew those fish were there during practice,” Wiggins said. “I was so disappointed to weigh-in 13 pounds (Thursday). I started on the same place today. I fished the same baits. But the big ones bit today.”
Wiggins needed to simply compete at Douglas Lake in order to earn the 2017 GEICO Bassmaster Classic berth he qualified for by winning Southern Open #2 at Alabama’s Smith Lake last month.
“When I go fish somewhere, I go to win,” Wiggins said. “I wasn’t going to just show up here and fish for a Classic spot.”
Wiggins is also trying to nail down a Top-5 finish in the points standings compiled over the three Southern Open tournaments. That would earn him an invitation to join the Bassmaster Elite Series next season. Wiggins also earned an Elite Series invitation in 2014, but the 26-year-old respiratory therapist didn’t have the sponsor backing to follow through.
“I want to fish the Elite Series,” Wiggins said, “but I’m going to have to have help. I don’t have any sponsors, not even tackle. My ultimate dream is to fish the Elite Series.”
There is also an Elite Series angler who might have a say in who wins this tournament Saturday. He would be Britt Myers of Wylie, S.C., who won the Elite Series event at South Carolina’s Winyah Bay earlier this season and finished second in the Elite Series tournament at Douglas Lake in 2012.
Myers jumped from 28th place with 14-1 Thursday to fifth place with 20-7 Friday.
“I lost a sure-enough 7-pounder yesterday, or I would have been neck-and-neck (with Mullins),” Myers said. “I thought I could win this tournament before it started. I had that good of a practice. I couldn’t even sleep. It’s been a long time since I couldn’t sleep before a tournament.
“I do think 25 pounds is definitely doable here. I caught that in the Elite Series tournament (in 2012). You can hook the big ones and lose them, like I did yesterday. I had a 20-pound bag on, and I weighed 14 pounds. That could happen to Mullins. But he knows this lake well. It’s his tournament to lose.”
Scott Canterbury of Springville, Ala., is in fourth place, between Wiggins and Myers, with a two-day total of 35-3.
It should be noted that Mark Rose of West Memphis, Ark., earned the ultimate consolation prize Friday by taking the final spot in Saturday’s Top 12. But it wasn’t much consolation to an obviously distraught Rose. He’d chartered an airplane to fly home tonight for his daughter Natalie’s high school graduation. But as the weigh-in started, Rose was informed that his charter flight was cancelled due to storms in the area.
“I’m just real emotional,” Rose said. “I had every plan to be home tonight with my daughter. This tournament is really second in my mind right now. Natalie is a straight-A student, and she’s worked so hard.”
Rose has a two-day total of 31-13. He edged Chris Moody of Brooks, Ga., by one ounce to take the final berth in Saturday’s finale.
In the co-angler competition, Rodney Tapp of Inman, S.C., remained atop the standings for the second day. He caught a co-angler three-bass limit weighing 9-3 to give him a two-day total of 20-3. Matt Justice trails him by only five ounces after catching the biggest co-angler limit of the day — 11-11. Andy Simm of Piney Flats, Tenn., dropped from second to third place on Day 2. But he’s within striking distance of Tapp, exactly two pounds out of the lead.
Tapp also earned a Livingston Lures gift pack valued at $250 for being the second-day co-angler leader.
Takeoff for the Top 12 will begin at 6:15 a.m. ET Saturday at The Point Marina in Dandridge. The weigh-in will start at 3:15 p.m. at the Bass Pro Shops, 3629 Outdoor Sportsman’s Place, Kodak, Tenn.