Although he grew up racing cars, Steve Niemoeller’s passion switched to fishing when he became an adult.

The Columbus native, now 55, is a fresh and saltwater fishing guide and owns a fishing lure business in DeLand, Florida. He also does a pair of weekly radio shows and has appeared in television shows and numerous newspaper articles about fishing.

Niemoeller first moved to Florida in 1983, but returned to Columbus in 1986. He fished in tournaments and had a garage and body shop, Steve’s Repair, until moving back to Florida in 2000.

“I had always planned on being a fishing guide when I came back down here,” Niemoeller said. “I had seen the guys down here that made the living guiding, so I got everything straight and moved back down here and started this guide business.”

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Niemoeller got his start guiding on Lake Monroe in the early 1990s for bass and hybrid stripers in the winter months. He was one of the captains that helped the Indiana University and Purdue teams when they first started their programs and competed against each other on Lake Monroe.

When Niemoeller returned to Florida, he began a website and went to work as a guide. In 2012, he sold the website to bassonline.com. The Fort Lauderdale-based operation is the largest freshwater guide service in Florida, with about 70 full-time guides.

Niemoeller, who has a Master Captains license, mainly guides within about a 100-mile radius of DeLand. He does a lot of bass guides on the St. John’s River, Rodman Reservoir, Lake Toho, the Harris Chain of Lakes and in the New Smyrna Beach area.

During the busy season, which is September through May, Niemoeller sometimes works seven days a week. The trips range from four to eight hours.

Niemoeller said most fishermen that come down to Florida do so in the spring when the big female largemouth bass move up on the bed.

“We primarily fish for big fish,” Niemoeller said. “There are a lot of people in this country that are looking to go out and catch a bass over 10 pounds, and that’s what we do for a living. I know a lot of people that have fished their whole life that have never caught one over 10.”

Four years ago, Niemoeller did a half-hour crappie show on the St. John’s River for In Fisherman of Minnesota. He has done two shows on the Rodman Reservoir and one show on the St. John’s River for the South Carolina-based Bob Redfern Outdoor Magazine TV Series.

The shows appeared on the Pursuit Channel, other outdoor channels and on YouTube.

“I had a guy the other day call me and book three days for February of next year,” Niemoeller said. “He had watched the shows.”

Niemoeller has done weekly fishing show on Saturday mornings called “The Southern Sportsman” for WNZF radio out of Daytona Beach for the past 7 1/2 years. This spring, he added a fishing report on Saturday mornings for WQBQ radio out of Leesburg, Florida.

During the past eight to 10 years, Niemoeller estimates he has been in close to 200 magazine articles.

Niemoeller also owns a lure manufacturing business called “Steel Shad,” and its website, steelshad.com. He bought half the business in 2008 and purchased the other half earlier this year.

Once each year, Niemoeller runs a kids fishing tournament, featuring about 80 children.

“I stay pretty busy,” Niemoeller said. “But I love what I do. It’s been an exciting life.”

Steve Niemoeller

Age: 55

High school: Columbus East

Residence: DeLand, Florida

Family: Wife Diane, stepsons Troy and Jason Napier, step-grandkids Matthew and Adam Napier

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.