FLW website content manager, Jesse Schultz, interviews Mark Daniels Jr. about the upcoming Walmart FLW Tour event on Lake Toho. ~ flwfishing.com >
by Curtis Niedermier
Mark Daniels Jr. quit his job and moved his family across the country to pursue his dream of fishing professionally. Will reality wreck his quest? Watch as Daniels takes on the challenge in season three of Circuit Breaker.
MARK DANIELS JR. has been here before. The last time he was in front of a camera, however, with a rod in his hand and the world watching, the stakes were much different. Daniels, a California native, was chasing opportunity at the 2013 The Bass Federation National Championship on Grand Lake, a nationally televised tournament. He won that event to earn TBF’s “Living the Dream” prize package, which included expense-paid entry into the Walmart FLW Tour.
Historically speaking, most of the anglers who win the “Living The Dream” package keep their day jobs. They give the Tour a shot for a year, or maybe a few years, and then, their curiosity about a full-time tournament career satisfied, ease back into the workaday world of weekend bass tournaments and normal family life.
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Day 2 – 3rd place – Mark Daniels Jr. – 38 pounds, 11 ounces
California transplant Mark Daniels Jr., currently residing in Tuskegee, Ala., also hammered them on day two, bringing 25 pounds, 15 ounces across the stage.
“I fished the same exact area I fished on day one,” says Daniels. “I got one big bite yesterday, and I got all big ones today. I didn’t change my technique or presentation at all. I think the fish are just moving around a lot. The wind blew hard in there today, and I think that got them set up so I could pick a few off.”
Daniels says he is fishing an expansive spawning flat with hydrilla, eelgrass and peppergrass mixed in with pockets of hard bottom. He is catching them on a Texas-rigged 6-inch black-and-blue YUM Dinger fished slowly on the bottom.
“There are a lot of other guys coming through my area with ChatterBaits and swim jigs, but they aren’t catching big ones like I am,” Daniels reveals. “You have to be fishing slow and on the bottom to get them to bite.” – Read More over on FWLoutdoors.com >
Day 3 – 4th place – Mark Daniels Jr. – 48 pounds, 11 ounces
Mark Daniels Jr. of Tuskegee, Ala., brought 10 pounds even to the scale on day three and was one of a number of pros who simply couldn’t back up gigantic bags with subsequent solid catches (he caught 25-15 on day two).
“The wind was everything to me today,” says Daniels. “I was fishing a wide-open area offshore, and it just killed my bite. I wanted to flip mats and throw soft stick baits offshore, and I couldn’t do that today.
“This place really sets up to my strengths, and I really caught them yesterday,” Daniels adds. “I thought I had a good shot to do it again today until I woke up and saw that wind blowing.”
Daniels caught most of his weight on a Texas-rigged YUM Dinger but was forced to mix in some moving baits and craws to scratch out his limit on the final day. – Read More over on FWLoutdoors.com >
Mark Daniels Jr.’s return to his Northern California home for Mother’s Day started out as a pleasure trip. Then he discovered that conditions were ripe for doing some business, and he headed back East this week with a much fatter wallet than he’d arrived with.
Daniels, the 2013 winner of the TBF National Championship who’s fishing the FLW Tour this year on the accompanying “Living the Dream” free ride, got into the California Delta Western Rayovac only because he’d had a great day fun-fishing with a couple of buddies a few days beforehand. He had 2 more superb days in the event (along with a mediocre one) en route to notching his first victory at the triple-A level.
California didn’t experience the harsh winter that much of the country did (the vast majority of the state never does), but just like bodies of water in other regions, the spawn in the massive, labyrinthine Delta was delayed this year. Daniels doesn’t know why, but he was happy to take advantage the situation.
Despite a sluggish day 1, he ended up averaging more than 24 pounds a day, and his 72-07 total left him nearly 7 pounds clear of a field made up of many of the West Coast’s top competitors. The win was worth more than $38,000, and it provided a confidence boost as he departed for a pre-practice trip to Kentucky Lake.
Here’s how he did it.
The day after Mother’s Day, Daniels got together with former team partner Jamond Andrews and another old pal to fish the Delta just for kicks. They got dozens of bites and Andrews caught a fish that was pushing 12 pounds.
It became obvious that the fish they were catching were still feeding up in preparation for the reproduction process.
“Generally by this time of year, the spawn is over for the most part,” he said. “I’ve been gone all year fishing the Tour and it was clear that a lot of the fish had held back for some reason. The last full moon pulled up a ton of them – and they were biting. We caught about 30 bass between the three of us.
“I knew I had to try to sign up and fish this tournament. I had to scrounge around to find enough tackle (as all of his primary gear was back East with his wrapped Ranger) and a buddy of mine let me borrow his boat.”
He spent Tuesday collecting equipment and getting registered for the tournament. Then he put in his one and only real practice day on Wednesday.
“I knew I was going to be primary flipping mats, so I cruised around the Delta and made a lot of flips. I shook a lot of fish off and built up my confidence.”
Huge finish lifts TBF Champ to Rayovac Western win
17.May.2014 by David A. Brown
BETHEL ISLAND, Calif. – His jersey bears the phrase “Living the Dream” but Mark Daniels was a total nightmare for his Rayovac FLW Series Western Division competitors during the final round of his commanding victory on the California Delta.
That “Dream” stuff refers to Daniels’ 2013 TBF National Championship, which afforded him the use of a Chevy Silverado and fully-rigged Ranger boat, along with entry fees for the 2014 FLW Tour. The nightmare was the 26 pounds, 12 ounces he weighed on day three. His sack – the largest of the final round – pushed his tournament total to 72-7 and gave him a nearly 7-pound margin of victory.
Hailing from Fairfield, Calif., Daniels brings plenty of Delta experience to the table. Despite the excitement and horizon-expanding experience of fishing some of the nation’s top bass waters on theTop pro Mark Daniels caught most of his fish by punching weed mats. FLW Tour, he said a win at home is a special deal.
“It feels great to be back home and to be able to fish out here on the Delta,” he said. “There’s no place like the California Delta – it’s one of the best fisheries in the nation. This place just continues to put out monster bags time after time and it’s just really special.
“Fishing against the caliber of anglers you fish against on the Rayovacs and on Tour, the opportunity to win doesn’t present itself that often. I knew I had a shot to win and I knew I had to fish thoroughly and execute. Everything went smoothly today. I didn’t lose a fish and I think that was the difference in me winning or taking second, third or further down the standings.”
Daniels didn’t exactly get off to a blazing start as his first-day’s weight of 17-7 landed him in 21st place. Things started cooking in the second round when he landed 28-4 – the heaviest bag of that day and second largest of the tournament. His 10-pound, 14-ounce mule won the daily Big Bass award.
Mark Daniels decided to enter the tournament after coming home for Mothers Day. Entering day three in third place and just 9 ounces off the lead, Daniels sealed the deal by again catching the biggest bag of the day.
“Day one was a little rough on me and I never got the good bites,” he said. “As the week progressed, I continued to change baits and techniques until I found where some of those prespawn females were staging and I was able to dial in on them today.”
Daniels caught the majority of his fish by punching a Reaction Innovations Kinky Beaver through weed mats blown against rip rap. He also caught fish on a buzzbait, a topwater frog and a Texas-rigged Senko.
Notably, Daniels decided at the last minute to enter this event.
“It started off with me (coming home last weekend) to surprise my mom for Mother’s Day,” Daniels explained. “I was hanging out with some of my buddies I’ve been fishing with for years, we caught a couple fish and I said, ‘You know what, I might just jump into this tournament.’ I did and it’s been a great week.”
Some might even call it a dream.
One of the biggest newsmakers for the West this year has been our own Delta local Mark Daniels Jr. three-day climb to the top of the 2013 TBF National Championship at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. Read the rest over on Westernbass >
Story & Photos By Jody Only
Originally Published in the 2013 Summer Issue Westernbass Magazine
During the week of April 8th 1 13th 2013, Mark Daniels Jr. accomplished a feat that many bass anglers across the nation only dream of achieving. On April 1th, 2013, Daniels was crowned The Bass Federation (TBF) National Champion on the boater side, earning him the TBF “Living The Dream” prize package. Read the rest here >
Weather was unpredictable, practice was hectic, but this week Grand Lake dealt three solid tournament days as 94 anglers from across the US and Canada met for the 2013 Federation National Championship. Each day anglers came across the stage smashing their tournament bests and big fish records, winning or losing by ounces and consistently bagging 20lbs of Grand Lake bass.
Mark Daniels Jr. from Fairfield, Calif., saw his life’s work, his life’s passion validated as he became this year’s Federation National Champion boater and TBF’s “Living the Dream” angler. “I’m just so excited right now; I can’t even really think,” Daniels’s said. “After catching that huge bag on day two I knew I had a shot to win this thing.” Daniels caught 18lbs 6ounces on day one and a 24lb 10ounce bag on day two to sail him into first and the final round. Today, he caught 19lbs 4ounces to make his tournament total 62lbs 4ounces.
“My travel partner, Tom Shimabukuro and I found fish A-Riggin’ in practice that I thought could potentially be winning fish,” Daniels said. “Then, the final day of practice me and Ben went out and we kind of solidified that.” Daniels was paired with Ben Wright from Peru, New York who would go on to be the national champion co-angler. “We found a bunch of areas that looked similar and I went in and pulled a fish off of each one of those spots. I patterned the entire week off that.”
Mark Daniels Jr., of Fairfield, Calif., saw his life’s work as well as his life’s passion validated as he took home the title of 2013 Federation National Champion. Bolstered by a total catch of 62 pounds, 4 ounces, including 19 pounds, 4 ounces during Saturday’s final day of competition, Daniels walked away with the tournament title as well as the coveted $100,000 “Living the Dream” prize package.
“I’m just so excited right now; I can’t even really think,” Daniels said. “After catching that huge bag on day two I knew I had a shot to win this thing.”
Daniels caught 18 pounds, 6 ounces on day one and a 24-pound, 10-ounce bag on day two to grab the top qualifying spot heading into the final round. Today, Daniels was able to finally seal the deal.
“My travel partner Tom Shimabukuro and I found fish A-rigging in practice that I thought could potentially be winning fish,” Daniels’s said. “Then, the final day of practice, me and Ben went out and we kind of solidified that.”
Daniels was paired with Ben Wright of Peru, N.Y., who would go on to become the national champion co-angler.
Bluebird skies settled over Oklahoma’s Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees on day two of the 14 Division Champs2013 Federation National Championship in Grove, Okla. Fourteen TBF anglers advance to battle it out for those national titles and all the glory. It was down to ounces as each division walked their anglers across stage and 14 elite did just what they came here to do.
Overall tournament leader and Southwest Division Champion boater, Mark Daniels Jr., from Fairfield, Calif., caught a limit of bass weighing 24lbs 10ounces making his two day total 43lbs. “Grand Lake today proved to me the quality of fish you normally read about,” Daniels’s said. This is his first appearance at the national contest. “I’m extremely excited, this is the opportunity of a lifetime; I’ve been working for this all my life.”