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People Who Fish | Scott Secules

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Scott Secules has taken blind side hits from the likes of Lawrence Taylor. He’s sat under center unblinkingly as menacing defensive linemen like Bruce Smith and Reggie White stood across the line, foaming at the mouth, anxious to crush him like a grape. So he must view bass fishing as a pansy’s way to spend the day, free of struggle or athleticism, right?

Hardly. He’s an ardent angler and a fan of the sport, particularly the top levels of competition, so when asked whether the pros are athletes, his response is quick and definitive: “I would say no question (they’re athletes),†he replied. “Especially now with the three and four day events, knowing the beating that they take from those ‘spleen shaker’ waves. It’s very physical and mentally taxing.

“It’s not the same as a hit on a blitz,†he continued. “But the waves don’t feel so good either.â€

He should know what it takes for an effort to be considered an athletic endeavor. He’s a sports lifer, the son of a high school football coach, a first-team All Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback at the University of Virginia and a Dallas Cowboys draftee who went on to take snaps not only for the Cowboys, but also for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots.

While still an active quarterback, he did manage to fish on occasion. “When I was with the Dolphins I fished Okeechobee and we could be at Holiday Park in the Everglades in 20 minutes,†he said. He also participated in the Skeeter Bayou Bass Challenge in Morgan City, Louisiana, several times.

He managed to get his angling fix in other ways, too. For example, while with the Dolphins he met the late Tim Tucker through Shaw Grigsby and over the years they fished for peacock bass in the Miami canals and made multiple visits to Mexico’s Lake El Salto. He still treasures a picture of two big fish he caught there, a 10-3 taken on a crankbait in one hand and a 9-4 taken on a topwater in the other.

But in general his life was pretty regimented at that time, so when his NFL career ended, he stepped back for a short while to smell the roses – or in his case, to set a few hooks. He and his family spent the next nine months living on a piece of property they owned in east Texas, right below Sam Rayburn Reservoir’s Caney Creek.

“That’s how I coped,†Secules explained. He became friendly with legendary angler/lure maker Lonnie Stanley as well as with Phil Marks of Strike King, who taught him to fish a jig in the hydrilla for Rayburn’s outsized bass.

                                                 Scott is second from the left

But a football lifer like Secules can’t stand to be out of the game too long. After the Rayburn sojourn, one of his UVA athletic directors hired the 29 year old Secules to be an assistant fundraiser at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He thrived in the position and stayed at SMU for 12 years before moving to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia in 2006. He currently serves as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs, a position which he describes as encompassing a wide variety of responsibilities related to fundraising, communications, marketing and sales.

Unfortunately, the position doesn’t leave him a lot of time to fish. “My weekends are very busy,†he explained. “And with two teenage daughters and a 12 year old son, unfortunately I do very little fishing. I’m more of a fan now, although not by choice.â€

But a visit to his office shows that bass are never far from his mind – “I have a map of the Potomac on my desk with little notes on it showing where Skeet was when he won, where Biffle was, etc. And I love to tinker with tackle.â€

While he’s itching to hit the famed Potomac River this year, less than two hours from his doorstep, the next fishing excursion on his calendar allowed him to use his athletic obligations to his advantage. “I’m going smallmouth fishing on Lake St. Clair,†he said. “The Final Four is up there this year. The season opens the last weekend in April, right before we get there. It seems like it’s forever away, but it provides a glimmer of hope.â€
He hopes that he’ll get to experience the calm St. Clair, not the one known for the spleen shakers he mentioned earlier, but if it kicks up a little, he’ll be able to take it. Even KVD doesn’t know what it’s like to endure the hits that an NFL quarterback shakes off with ease.