NOTE: I added online the emailed interviews with Tyler Lubbat and Brian Foecking at the end of the column, because I thought it provided more insight.

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Check off All-American for Tyler Lubbat.

Lubbat was one of 12 named to the the Bassmaster High School All-American Fishing Team. But the junior at Buffalo Grove High School may be an even better student than fisherman.

“The All-American honor is huge for me,’’ Lubbat said. “At the start of this year, it was one of my main goals.’’

B.A.S.S. invited the 12 to a special Bassmaster High School All-American Bass Tournament, held in conjunction with the 2017 Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest on May 17-21 on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Each All-American will be paired with an Elite Series pro for the one-day derby on a nearby fishery.

Tyler Lubbat with a largemouth bass last year (2016) at the IHSA state championship for bass fishing on Carlyle Lake.
Credit: Dale Bowman

The IHSA state championship for bass fishing is scheduled the same weekend. If Buffalo Grove makes it, Lubbat will miss it. He helped the Bison reach state as a freshman (17th) and sophomore (tied for 31st).

But juggling school, fishing and life is nothing new for Lubbat.

“School has always been the top priority for me and we have always said that we can never let fishing get in front of it,’’ he emailed. “Of course wanting to be a professional bass fisherman, my career goal is to become a radiologist.’’

He dreams of attending Vanderbilt to study biological sciences on the pre-med path, then medical school to become a radiologist.

“Although, I am not close-minded to any other opportunities this All-American honor may provide to me regarding college selection,’’ he added.

I know him from fishing, where he’s been on the radar of people in the industry for years. He and his dad Cris are a notable pair of tournament fishermen.

Among recent fishing accomplishments, Lubbat and his partner won the Illinois Bass Nation high school event on Lake of Egypt. He and another partner took third in the Bassmaster High School Open on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.

At school, he takes AP and honors level courses. He’s on the math team, class board (elected treasurer all three years), Interact, DECA, National Honor Society, and World Youth Science & Engineering Organization.

Brian Foecking, math teacher and bass team coach, knew early.

“I had a feeling about Tyler when I first met him as an eighth grader during an activities fair at the high school, but I think I realized he was special while on the water with him his freshmen year at the IHSA state tournament,’’ Foecking emailed. “The first day didn’t go well, and the boys were frustrated after not bringing anything to weigh in. Carlyle is a tough lake to fish, and many young anglers may have felt defeated.

“Remember he’s only 14 at this point. However, Tyler came out the next day even more focused and prepared. He knew exactly where he wanted to go, and how he wanted to fish. He caught two fish that day, which vaulted him &

his partner into the top 20 (17th) in state.’’

When I asked Lubbat about his bass pro heroes, he mentioned Brent Ehrler (“calmness and prowess on the water’’) and Bill Lowen (“Midwest guy’’).

Then added, “As a hero though, there’s no one more motivational than Clay Dyer. Born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side and a partial arm on the right, he still fishes tournaments and puts them in the boat! He is truly the symbol of you can do anything if you put your mind to it. He is truly an inspiration, not just to the bass fishing family, but for everybody, as he shows anybody what dedication and hard work can do.’’

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Emailed Q & A interview with Tyler Lubbat.

What does the All-American honor mean to you? Was it something you were trying for?

– The All-American honor is huge for me. At the start of this year, it was one of my main goals. To be considered one of the top 12 high school anglers in the nation is just flat out amazing. The new opportunities it presents us 12 are just unfathomable. It opens doors to new relationships and takes our fishing career to a new level. It was a priority of mine to achieve, and I couldn’t be more honored to be on the team.

Do you know anything about fishing in Texas? And do you know with whom you will be paired?

-I have always wanted to fish in Texas because it’s amazing how many different ways you can fish down there, especially in May. You can go out deep and fish a ledge with a swimbait or 10XD crankbait, then go up shallow and flip a jig in some buck brush. Either way, you still have the opportunity to catch a 10+ pounder. I have been to Toledo Bend once (border of Texas and Louisiana), but the tournament I was there for got cancelled before we practiced, so we went and fished a different tournament up at Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. So it will be awesome to get to Texas and actually be able to fish! We do not know whom we will be paired with yet, but I think the way we will fish depends on who our pro is. May on Sam Rayburn seems to yield a multitude of ways to catch fish, so I think it will be up to the pros strengths whether we will go shallow or deep.

In terms of high school fishing, do you have unfinished business or unfilled goals?

-So far, I have had a pretty successful high school career. For my school, I qualified us for our first IHSA bass fishing state championship my freshman year, then once again my sophomore year (and hopefully again this year and next). Then for Bassmaster, I have qualified for Nationals every year so far, including this year, and finished second in my state championship last year. Although these are nice accomplishments, I do have some unfinished business on the high school level. My goals are to qualify for IHSA state all four years of my high school career (unsure if anyone else has done that), win our Illinois Bass Nation high school state championship, and place in the top five at the Bassmaster National Championship. At nationals last year, we blew it the first day making bad decisions and losing fish, but on the second day we went with our gut and caught one of the biggest bags of the tournament with 18.5 pounds. Thus, I am really hoping this year we will go with our gut and everything will fall into place for a top five. One more goal I have is to qualify for the Bassmaster High School classic. Top two from every Bassmaster High School open qualify, in two of three opens I have fished, I finished 3rd, so I was one spot away from qualifying twice! So that is another goal!

What kind of student are you? What are you college goals (I’m assuming you’re going)?

-I am the type of student where scholastics come first. I am dedicated to my school work; as a member of Math Team, I qualified for state my freshman and sophomore year, as a first year member of DECA this year, I qualified for state in one of the stiffest categories- marketing management, and I have also been elected the Class Board Treasurer for Class of 2018 every year since freshman year. I also maintain a 4.0 gpa in all honors and AP classes, including being in senior level Calculus BC this year as a junior, so I can take Calculus 3 and differential equations next year. School has always been the top priority for me and we have always said that we can never let fishing get in front of it. Of course wanting to be a professional bass fisherman, my career goal is to become a radiologist. So to be on that track, my dream would be to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN, study biological sciences on the pre-med path, then attend medical school and become a radiologist. Although, I am not close-minded to any other opportunities this All-American honor may provide to me regarding college selection.

I think I asked this once before, but with whom and how did you get started in fishing? In bass fishing?

– My dad was the one to start me in fishing. Before my brother and I were born, my dad was a Lake Michigan salmon guru, he could speak to the fish out there and would do good in just about every tournament he fished. People would even make up whack stories about how he must be keeping fish from the day before because he would do so good! But once my brother and I were born, he gave salmon almost all up, sold his 32 foot Trojan- “The Reel Magic,” and bought a “walleye” boat so my brother and I would have a more hands on fishing experience, rather than trolling. As a child, we would go up and stay in Lake Geneva every summer. I remember fishing off the dock with night crawlers for panfish every chance I got. I was nicknamed “the fishing magician” by all the other kids because I would constantly catch them while the others would not. I would even drop my worm between planks of the dock because I could sight fish more bluegill than on the edge of the dock! I think this constant action really got me hooked on fishing. In the following years we did more of the multi species stuff, trolling for pike and walleye, casting for bass, and even would sometimes take the boat out on Lake Michigan on calm days to get back to my dads salmon fishing roots. I honestly think we limited out on Cohos, Kings and lakers every time we got out there, his skills were truly unfathomable. I hope one day my bass skills reach his salmon skills. Then when I entered middle school, I started realizing how serious bass fishing truly is. So immediately, we stopped doing the multi-species stuff and solely fished for bass. We bought our first bass boat shortly there after, and the rest is history. The first tournament I ever fished, I actually won with 16.5 lbs, so I think that’s what initiated this craving of mine to always strive for victory. My dad is still my favorite partner and we have won an array of tournaments together. When college hits, I don’t know what I’m going to do without him!

Bass pro hero?

– Some of my favorite pros are Brent Ehrler and Bill Lowen. Brent just carries this sort of calmness and prowess on the water and always catches them, which makes him one of the best in my opinion. Bill Lowen is a Midwest guy so I have to love him, and his shallow water skills go unmatched, something that I hope to keep building up (he also got some DeM Jigs at the Schaumburg outdoor show, so I must love him). As a hero though, there’s no one more motivational than Clay Dyer. Born without any lower limbs, no arm on the left side and a partial arm on the right, he still fishes tournaments and puts them in the boat! He is truly the symbol of you can do anything if you put your mind to it. He is truly an inspiration, not just to the bass fishing family, but for everybody, as he shows anybody what dedication and hard work can do.

Any notable nearby bass fishing recently? Are you ready for IHSA sectionals?

– Nearby, the closest I have fished is Braidwood Lake. We fished there a few times in March and caught a bunch of good fish. But I have mostly been down state or out of state, including a win in an Illinois Bass Nation high school on Lake of Egypt with 14.5 pounds and a third place finish in the Bassmaster High School Open on Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. I think I am ready for IHSA sectionals as it is always a fun tournament. I have qualified for the last two years, so I have a pretty good idea of what I am going to do out there. Unfortunately, IHSA state is scheduled the same week as the All-American tournament, so if I qualify from sectionals I will not be able to attend state.

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Emailed exchange with Brian Foecking, fishing team coach and math teacher at Buffalo Grove High School.

Brian, working on a column on Tyler, and was wondering from your view of things what makes him special. As a student? As a kid/human? As a fisherman? As a bass fisherman? And was there ever a point where you knew he was something special?

Thanks for contacting me, as I’m sure you’ve heard about Tyler’s selection to the Bassmaster All American Team! I’ve had the good fortune of having Tyler in class (math), and being with him on the water, and his intelligence, preparation, work ethic, & attention to detail definitely separate him from his peers. In addition to being an extremely strong student taking AP and honors level courses, he is involved in many facets of the school, including math team, class board, Interact, DECA, National Honor Society, and World Youth Science & Engineering Organization. Not only does he participate in these activities, but he’s successful in them. He contributes, and is a respected leader among staff and students alike.

I had a feeling about Tyler when I first met him as an 8th grader during an activities fair at the high school, but I think I realized he was special while on the water with him his freshmen year at the IHSA state tournament. The first day didn’t go well, and the boys were frustrated after not bringing anything to weigh in. Carlyle is a tough lake to fish, and many young anglers may have felt defeated. Remember he’s only 14 at this point. However, Tyler came out the next day even more focused and prepared. He knew exactly where he wanted to go, and how he wanted to fish. He caught two fish that day, which vaulted him & his partner into the top 20 (#17) in state. I was really impressed with his maturity & poise, even as a freshmen. He has exceptional patience and intuition, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. Most importantly, his drive and passion for the sport, is unlike any student I have worked with over the course of the 8 years I have been involved with coaching fishing here at the school.