Growing up in southern California, Mark Daniels Jr. learned about fishing from his dad. Daniels now calls Tuskegee home. When not on the Bass Pro Tour, Daniels can be found fishing Lake Martin and the Coosa River lakes where bass are caught year-round.
In 2013, he won The Bass Federation National Championship where he competed the next season on the FLW Tour. Daniels qualified for the B.A.S.S Elite Tour in 2017. He took the first-place Elite trophy on Lake Oahe in South Dakota in 2018.
“Summer bass fishing on any lake can be tough,” said Daniels. “But, during the summer months that’s probably the toughest time of year. Bass can be finicky and a challenge to locate.”
Get on top early
The start of a new day on the lake in the summer is the perfect time for some topwater action. Daniels mentions every bass angler needs a couple of topwater baits for early action. Bass will school up shallow and feed in a frenzy creating plenty of surface action.
“A topwater stick bait, popper or buzzbait is a good choice for action early in the day,” said Daniels.
A medium-heavy rod with a fast-action tip is prime gar for topwater lures. A quality casting reel spooled with Seaguar braided line is the choice for Daniels. The braid transfers hook-setting energy to the lure, especially on long casts.
Shake, rattle and cast
One lure Daniels always has tied on for summer bass catching is the original Rat-L-Trap. This is the original lipless crankbait. He says the lure is versatile and can be fished using several different methods. Common sizes for Daniels are 1/2- or 3/4- ounce. Sometimes he will drop down to a 1/4-ounce Tiny Trap depending on the water clarity.
“Anglers don’t need a ton of colors in the Rat-L-Trap,” Daniels said. “I will stick with basic colors that will allow me to fish most any situation I encounter.”
There is more to fishing a Rat-L-Trap than casting and reeling back to the boat. Although that is an effective method, Daniels takes it one step further. He will burn it, retrieving the lure super-fast on a high-speed casting reel.
Holding his rod tip high, the lure will skim along just underneath the surface. This is a productive method, especially when bass are schooling.
“I like the old-style colors of the chrome/blue back or chrome/black back,” Daniels said. ‘When the bass are schooling keep the traps moving.”
Bass love cover anytime of the year, and this is especially true during the summer. Rock piles, stump rows and brush tops are prime locales to find bass in the summer. Daniels advises you need a natural looking bait that can get in the face of the bass.
“You’ve got to have a big worm fishing for bass in the summer,” Daniels said. “This is especially true when fishing brush piles.”
Soft-plastic worms around 8- to 10- inches long are a top choice. Daniels usually rigs these Texas style with a large Owner hook with a 3/8- ounce tungsten weight. He advises to cast beyond the target and allow the worm rig to fall to the bottom and slowly hop the worm into the brush pile.
Charles Johnson is the Star’s outdoor editor. You can reach Charles at firstname.lastname@example.org