MARK DANIELS JR.: After Missing Champlain, I'm Back & Ready for St. Clair - Major League Fishing

MARK DANIELS JR.: After Missing Champlain, I’m Back & Ready for St. Clair

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Mark Daniels Jr. details what it was like missing Stage Six due to a bout with COVID-19 and what he expects from Stage Seven. Photo by Phoenix Moore
August 25, 2021 • Mark Daniels Jr. • Angler Columns

I feel a hell of a lot better and stronger than I did a couple of weeks ago during my bout with COVID-19. I was unable to participate in Stage Six on Lake Champlain, which was extremely disappointing for me because it’s a lake I really enjoy fishing. However, I took my time to get healthy, reflect on different things, and now I’m eager to get back out there on the water.

I was really concerned about missing the Champlain event because I was worried about all of the points I would miss out on earning and what that meant for REDCREST qualification. Heading into Stage Six, I was in 21st place and sitting in a good position to make REDCREST in 2022. But knowing I wasn’t going to fish at Champlain and earn zero points for that event, I was scared it was going to cost me my season.

Luckily, MLF decided that they were going to allow everyone to drop their results from one event, so really it’s your worst event. For me, that’s obviously going to be Champlain and that bad result won’t be held against me, which I’m extremely thankful for.

It was awesome seeing one of my best friends, Jacob Wheeler, win another one the way that he did. This run of success he’s on right now may be surprising to some people, but for those of us who know Jacob well and consider him a friend, it’s no surprise at all. I know the work he puts into every tournament he fishes, how he prepares, and his God-given natural ability. It’s like being friends with Kevin VanDam or LeBron James in the primes of their careers. You just have to sit back, respect and admire it because it’s not often you see greatness like this.

With all of that being said, I’m really looking forward to fishing on Lake St. Clair to finish out the regular season. I think I need to make the Knockout Round to secure my spot in REDCREST for 2022. And that’s a good feeling, knowing what I have ahead of me when we get to Detroit. I’ve fished on St. Clair three times in my professional career, and I even grabbed a third-place finish there in 2017.

While I’ve had success there in the past, we’re going in the middle of September, a time of year that I’ve never fished St. Clair before. We usually see St. Clair in late July or early August, so I think this mid-September time frame is going to throw a curveball at a lot of people, including myself. It’s really going to be about starting from scratch and trying to rediscover the lake itself because it’s kind of a featureless lake. We’re only going to be allowed to fish American waters, so that’s going to make it a little tougher for the guys who have history here and are used to having the entire lake at their disposal.

As I continue on my path to recovery and prepare to get back out there competing in the sport I love, I just want to say how thankful and blessed I really am. There are people dying every single day from this virus, and I feel fortunate to be where I am now. Thank you for your support and I look forward to getting back out there in a few weeks.