Coaches from two Louisiana colleges are recruiting linebacker and javelin thrower Wade Roberts of Lake Charles, a junior at Barbe High School.
Roberts, an athletic, lanky, sandy-haired prospect, has caught their eyes after a remarkable three years of high-school competition for the Bucs. He has the right touch and moves, temperament, experience and know-how to succeed at the next level.
However, the venue probably won’t be the gridiron or the familiar wooden arc in track and field. Roberts is an accomplished angler who has fished bass tournaments since he was 7.
“Colleges aren’t calling because of track and field. They’re calling because of fishing,” Dean Roberts, Wade’s father, said.
To be sure, Roberts’ 17-year-old son is entertaining offers this spring while studying, throwing the javelin and doing what he apparently was born to do: catch bass.
All-State Fishing Team
Wade’s accomplishments on the water, in the classroom and in the community earned him the distinction of being one of 47 anglers from across the country named earlier this year to the 2021 Bassmaster High School All-State Fishing Team. To be considered, a student must be an upperclassmen (grades 10 to 12), nominated by a parent, coach, teacher or other school official and carrying a 2.5 GPA.
Wade Roberts and Peyton Matherne of Walker High School were named to the 2021 All-State Fishing Team from Louisiana. Sulphur High School’s Hunter Hayes White received an Honorable Mention.
“Last year, I was Honorable Mention. I was really excited and happy when I got All-State,” Wade Roberts said.
The son of Dean and Brooke Brossette Roberts, Wade Roberts has enjoyed a dream 2020-21 season. He and teammate Zachary Lambert finished second in the Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation’s inaugural “High School Hawg Fest” March 13 at Caney Lake with a 22.26-pound bag anchored by a 7.21-pound bass.
That showing propelled Roberts and Lambert, a freshman, to the 2021 Northern Division Trail Championship. They combined for one Top-25 finish, one Top-20 finish and three Top-5 finishes this season.
“These two young men have had an amazing year, not only in the North Trail but in every other trail as well,” Tommy Abbott, Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation director, posted on Facebook.
Roberts qualified for his first national tournament by winning a state title at age 8 with the Southwest Louisiana Junior Bassmasters. Riding with his father as captain, he topped the field at Manchac. The next year, competition changed to two-man teams, and Roberts paired up with Kaleb Buller, now in the U.S. Navy, to finish second in a state tournament in April 2014. They won the state title the next year in the Atchafalaya Basin and finished seventh at nationals at Carroll County Thousand Acre Recreation Lake in Huntingdon, Tenn.
In April 2018, Roberts, paired with Blayne Carpenter and finished second in the state juniors and qualified for nationals again. They finished fifth nationally in July 2018 at Carroll County.
Growing as an angler
As a sophomore, Roberts and partner Andrew Bennett had a fourth-place finish with 15 pounds, 2 ounces, in the B.A.S.S. National Open in January 2020 at Toledo Bend. They also picked up a runner-up finish at the West Trail contest in February 2020 at Toledo Bend. They finished 105th in a 250-boat field in nationals at Kentucky Lake in October 2020.
“(It’s) not what they were looking for but was an excellent experience,” said Dean Roberts a biologist for Stream Wetland Service who has captained his son’s team in every tournament he’s fished.
“I had a friend of mine, Kent Buller, telling us about his son fishing the Southwest Louisiana Junior Bassmasters. That’s where it all started. What’s so unique is he’s been doing this so long, and it’s started paying off now. It’s really been fun, because when he was young, I was coaching verbally, giving recommendations and telling them when, where and how (according to tournament rules).
“What’s so neat now is when I’m thinking something, I can see his intuition, making bait switches and adjustments on his own. It’s really satisfying as he’s grown and matured. It’s really cool to watch him verbally coach his partners. Both those young men (Bennett and Lambert) have contributed. He hasn’t done it alone.”
Roberts’ go-to bait is an uncommon one for southwest Louisiana: a Roboworm in morning dawn color fished on a drop-shot rig.
“Man, I kind of just started using this bait a couple years ago. I went to a drop-shot. That’s my favorite bait,” said Wade Roberts, who threads the worm on a 1/0 hook tied to a 10- or 12-pound fluorocarbon leader attached to 50-pound braided line spooled on a baitcasting reel mated to a 6-foot-10 custom-built MH fishing rod by RWD in Houma.
It was a Zoom Speed Craw, however, that gave him his most fulfilling tournament finish, at Caney Lake in March, Wade Roberts admitted.
“I was bed fishing. That was the weekend before my (17th) birthday,” he said. “All the beds were basically in pockets. I was looking in 1 to 2 feet of water and seeing them on the bed. I was flipping a white Speed Craw.”
Roberts said he’s ready for whatever the future holds. He would love to fish on the collegiate level and, hopefully, later on any of the major circuits.
“But school is first,” his father said.
“That would mean a lot to me if I had a scholarship to fish for someone for school,” he said.