They call themselves the “Three Amigos” of the Bassmaster Elite Series. Jacob Wheeler, Dustin Connell and Mark Daniels Jr. are the trio of pros who are hotel roommates, travel running mates and pals off the water.
If there were a cultural melting pot of bass fishing this would be it.
Wheeler grew up in downtown Indianapolis. His father and uncle introduced him to bass fishing through their involvement with the B.A.S.S. Nation. Wheeler fished his way through youth events and into the BFL circuit, becoming the youngest angler to win the championship at the age of 20. In 2012 he made history again as the youngest angler to win the FLW Cup at the age of 20. By 2014, Wheeler had surpassed $1 million in tournament winnings.
Connell grew up in central Alabama, where weekend bass tournaments run year-round on the Coosa River impoundments flowing through the region. Connell started fishing — and winning — tournaments at the age of 12. From 2010-12 he fished on the Crimson Tide Bass Anglers Team while enrolled at the University of Alabama, where he earned a marketing degree. He went home, picked up where he left off and started bankrolling first place checks. He fished the 2016 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Opens, qualifying for the Elite Series in his first year.
Daniels grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, got his college degree at Tuskegee University in Alabama. His first full-time job back home in California was cut short by tournament successes on the FLW Tour. In 2016 he moved back to Alabama, fished the Southern Opens and qualified for the Elite Series. After two years on the tour Daniels already has a win at Lake Oahe in South Dakota last July.
Here is the inside story of how these Three Amigos met, what makes them click and how they work together on the tour.
How did you meet?
In 2016 we all qualified for the Elite Series through the Bassmaster Southern Opens. I already knew Mark from the FLW Tour. We were staying at the same hotel at Douglas Lake in Tennessee. It was the final event of the season.
We started hanging out at the final Southern Open. We all had the same goal of qualifying for the Elites. So we started hanging out then. After the tournament Jacob invited us to go fun fishing at Lake Chickamauga. We had such fun that we decided to run together during our rookie season in the Elite Series.
I already knew Jacob from the FLW Tour, and we befriended Dustin at that Open when we qualified for the Elite Series. There was lots of joking around, and we thought it was a good idea to run together.
What makes being roommates click?
What really makes it cool is we all have our different styles of fishing. We might be a little bit different, but we challenge ourselves to bring our skills together to help each other do their best.
We just click. In practice we even have three-way conference calls on the water. At the end of the day we break it down until we figure things out.
I think it’s a good idea to travel with a group. You can bounce ideas off each other, find things in common and keep it loose. You can’t do that running solo. What makes it work for us is everybody brings something different to the table. We just happen to click, like the Three Amigos.