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.