About Drew Daniel
(Provided by Buddy Gough)
I first met Drew Daniel as an outfitter of guided fishing trips on Ozark smallmouth streams 15 years ago shortly after I had moved from Texas to the Ozarks and soon became an outdoors writer for the Democrat-Gazette statewide newspaper. The invite was to join Drew and his teenaged son John on a float-fishing trip along the Elk River in the Ozarks of southwest Missouri. It was a great trip with more 70 smallmouths caught and released and included the catch of a trophy smallmouth of 22.5 inches.
I was impressed both by the action and by Drew Daniel as a guide. Prior to moving to the Ozarks, I had been an outdoors writer in Texas for 28 years, writing for major newspapers in cities like Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Houston and so on. I had fished hundreds of times with professional fishing guides in freshwater and saltwater, including with some of the best guides and outfitters, as well as plenty of mediocre ones.
I knew a good guide when I saw one. I had in fact written stories in Texas on how to judge a “good” fishing guide on the basis of long-term experience.
What impressed me was his primary goal of assuring me and his son caught fish. He controlled and maneuvered our boat and didn’t hesitate to get in the water to hold the boat steady in primo spots. He was also constantly coaching us on where to cast our lures and how to work them. All the while, he was a jovial and encouraging companion, and served up a great shore lunch.
As I soon learned, Drew came from a fishing family who had been in the sporting goods business and had frequently fished far and wide. As a youngster along with his father and brothers, he had made numerous outings on the Kings River and other Ozark streams. Many of these were with legendary fishing guide J.D. Fletcher, who probably gave Drew his first insights into being a guide.
Internationally, Drew and his brothers were among first Americans to fish the mountain lakes at the headwaters of the mighty Amazon River.
Subsequent to that first outing on the Elk River, Drew became a close friend for many fishing adventures near and far. The reason was simple. Outdoors writers have “go-to” guys to bail us out when times are tough, deadlines are near and you have to have a story.
Drew was one my go-to guys and he never failed to deliver for my readers.
Every fishing trip can have its adversities due to weather and water conditions that can make success questionable, but Drew never settled for excuses, proceeding always with good humor, confidence and at times sheer grit, not to mention exceptional skill.
For those reasons, he was always one of the first persons I thought of to accompany me on other fishing trips with other guides and outfitters in the Ozarks as well as on international trips.
In Texas, I had a long relationship going back to the early 80s with Ron Speed Adventures on invites to fishing trips from Cuba to Mexico and the Amazon. When this relationship continued in Arkansas, Drew was willing to join me on trips to Lakes Comedero and El Salto and twice to the Amazon. He added much to the feature stories written after those trips.
We had phenomenal experiences in both Mexico and the Amazon. On a trip to El Salto, for example, we caught five largemouths between 10 and 12 pounds during a post-spawn season of torrid temperatures approaching 100 degrees. “I like it hot!” was Drew’s refrain time after time. On one memorable morning in the Amazon were caught and released 38 peacock bass from eight to 15 pounds on big topwaters.
Drew hit it off with Ron Speed and his son Ron Jr. and was soon booking trips for them to Mexico and the Amazon. With his indefatigable enthusiasm, he promoted the trips at outdoors shows and through the media, garnering many repeat customers from Arkansas.
He was impressed not only with the quality of fishing action the Speeds provided, but also to the quality of their guides, boats, accommodations, food and drinks and most of all their hospitality as hosts. After regularly making trips with the Speeds on his own, Drew suggested some fine-tuning of their operations which were readily implemented.
In terms of personality, Drew can be described as having a “hearty disposition,” which in turn has been described by outdoors adventurers as a key trait for enjoying and surviving the vicissitudes of outdoors recreation.
He is invariably upbeat and the kind of outgoing person who never meets a stranger. No matter the situation, he assumes the role of a host attentive to the desires and needs of his companions.
From his experiences, he would tell you it’s not only the game that counts, but also the people you meet along the way.
– Buddy Gough (Renowned Outfitter Journalist)