Joseph 'Papa Joe' Schouest Sr., one of the founding fathers of Louisiana tarpon fishing, died last week in Houma of complications from pneumonia.
He was 86.
“A couple of days before he passed away, he was still talking about tarpon,” said his youngest son, Lance 'Coon' Schouest, a charter fisherman who caught the No. 3-ranked tarpon in the state last October and has had six of Louisiana’s biggest tarpon come from his boat. “He is a legend.”
Schouest said his dad was born in Houma and started out as a shrimper, oysterman and trapper near Cypremort Point before working on tugboats when he was a teenager.
“He had a rough young life. He had to raise his family when his daddy got sick. He had lots of brothers and sisters but he was the oldest one in the family,” he said. “He worked real hard as a young man.”
Originally, Schouest said his dad enjoyed targeting redfish, and fished rodeos from Abbeville all the way to Venice.
“We started out fishing redfish,” Schouest said. “At Grand Isle, he was known as the redfish king.”
In 1973 for the Terrebonne Sportsman’s League, Schouest said his dad decided to change things up and pursue tarpon.
“We went out there in two boats and we caught each three tarpon,” he said. “Ever since that we were hooked.
“We kind of all learned together, but it was daddy’s deal. He was the leader of the pack.”
Lance, who later developed the popular Coon Pop tarpon lure, said his dad caught one 200-pounder over the years, and reeled in his last tarpon two years ago at the age of 84.
“It was 150 pounds plus,” he said. “He didn’t go last year and he didn’t get to go this year, but he was planning on it.”
Joseph Schouest Sr. is survived by his wife of 68 years, Juanita Buquet Schouest and five children, 17 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.