LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. -- Senior quarterback Reid Strobl led Lawrenceburg High to the Indiana Class 3A football championship game in November. He generated interest from several small collegiate programs in Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky along the way.
He thought about playing football after high school. Then he chose his true passion.
Just last week the 18-year-old West Harrison, Indiana, resident inked his commitment to pursue bass fishing at Dallas Baptist University, which boasts the country’s top-ranked club team.
That’s right: bass fishing.
“Just to be able to have this opportunity to fish in college is really a dream come true for me. It’s something I’ve been kind of hoping and wishing for the past two years and now it’s become a reality,” Strobl said.
Bass fishing is a sport on the rise, said Strobl and his Lawrenceburg coach, Steve Neal. While it’s not a sanctioned sport in Indiana high schools, it’s a fast-growing club activity that has fielded enough participants for the Tigers to have a program the last two years.
Lawrenceburg’s program already has prepped two standouts for college programs: Hunter Schneider, who graduated last year and competes for Adrian College in Michigan, and Strobl.
“(Bass fishing) is growing in leaps and bounds. Indiana is probably behind where it should be, but it’s really starting to take off now,” Neal said.
Lawrenceburg’s season generally runs from April to September, and most tournaments allow entrants to weigh five fish, typically largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass.
The sport is much more involved than casting a line and hoping for the best. Strobl said topography research is necessary to note fish patterns and populations. Neal said concentration is 75 percent of the sport.
“There’s a lot of things mentally that are involved in fishing,” Neal said. “You could be a great athlete and not be worth a hoot at fishing unless you put your mind into it. There’s a lot of homework you have to do in fishing. You’re not going against another athlete or another player. You’re going against the fish, and sometimes they don’t read books.”
It didn’t take long for Strobl to become enamored of bass fishing. He said being out on the water all day “is awesome” but the competitiveness of the sport “really took my heart.”
“I’ve played baseball, basketball and football my entire life competitively and always fished, but never competitively. There’s just something about the preparation it takes. It doesn’t matter your background, how big you are and how strong you are. It’s an extremely mental sport, and I love that about it,” Strobl said.
Strobl, a Lawrenceburg team captain, qualified for the semifinals of the FLW High School Fishing World Finals and the Indiana state finals.
While he’s eager to start studying marketing at Dallas Baptist, Strobl is most pumped about the prospects of expanding his fishing career. He’ll compete in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and other destinations against some of the nation’s top collegiate anglers.
Strobl said DBU does not award full scholarships because bass fishing is a club sport, but expenses such as entry fees, gas for his vehicle and boat, and travel accommodations are covered.
Strobl was recruited for bass fishing by McKendree University in Illinois, Georgetown College in Kentucky and Adrian College, in addition to Dallas Baptist. Some of those schools also wanted Strobl for football.
But fishing -- well, he was hooked.
“I think it was the right decision. There were a lot of things that led me to see more of a future in bass fishing for me,” Strobl said. “I obviously love the sport of football and it’s going to kill me to let it go. I just needed to go this route.”