West St. John bass anglers blaze a trail

Shamar Pierre (left) and Khristian Rousseve, two accomplished “sticks” with West St. John High School’s fishing team, proudly hoist a limit they caught in a tournament in late May on Lake Verret.

Rousseve sets the bar high, earning college fishing scholarship to LSU-Shreveport

Boat 109’s bass fishermen carved out a niche in history last Nov. 8, when they won a Louisiana High School B.A.S.S. Nation team tournament at Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Khristian Rousseve, a senior, and Shamar Pierre, a junior, representing the West St. John Anglers, won the tournament with five bass weighing 13.39 pounds to put their high school in Edgard on the bassing map and become the first black anglers to win a high-school bass tournament in Louisiana.

Rousseve further stamped his name in the history books six months later when he became the first black student/athlete from West St. John, the River Parishes and Louisiana to sign a college bass-fishing scholarship — with LSU-Shreveport.

According to available records, Rousseve is the fourth black bass fisherman in the country to earn a college bass-fishing scholarship. C.J. Guest of Shelby, N.C., who signed in August 2017 to fish at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Ga., was the first. Guest, who graduated from Crest High School, also was a standout in varsity basketball and soccer, as well as an academic high achiever and artist. The second was Da’Kendrick Patterson, who signed with Montevallo University in Montevallo, Ala., in 2018. Alabama’s Davion Smith also signed with Montevallo in 2020. During the 2020-2021 season, the University of Montevallo’s bass fishing team topped more than 200 collegiate fishing programs throughout the nation to earn the distinction of the Bass Pro Shops School of the Year.

A trail blazer

Rousseve, 18, has emerged as another pioneer.

“It means a lot to me, the first person in the River Parishes to sign a scholarship. I felt great about it. I worked hard … all the time I put in practicing and all those things,” he said.

Rousseve believes fishing major tournaments, in-state and out-of-state, such as nationals on South Carolina’s Lake Hartwell earlier this summer, have prepared him for college bass fishing.

While he’s skilled with spinnerbaits, bladed jigs and crankbaits, give him a Texas-rigged Senko and he’s in “hawg heaven” in Louisiana and anywhere else in the U.S. Ditto for Pierre.

They used Senkos and crankbaits to win the November tournament at Toledo Bend. Rousseve said the teammates got on a pattern late Saturday, the day of the Western Division Fall Qualifier. That pattern — working points with a crankbait — was a winner the next day in the Northern Division qualifier featuring 141 high school teams.

Rousseve and Pierre caught many keepers, including a 3-pound fish, before the mandatory 10-minute lunch break at 11 a.m.

“We were talking that we needed a kicker,” Rousseve said. “I caught about a 5-pounder, and that sealed the deal for us.”

As a team, it was their lone first-place finish, which they savored.

“It was like the whole (effort) paid off, and we finally got a win. I’ve been working for that since my eighth-grade year. Hard work paid off,” Pierre said.

Rousseve said, “It was awesome.”

Pierre remembers the “adrenalin rush” walking to the scale with their bag of bass.

“You never know if you’ve won or not,” he said.

One that got away

Pierre, the son of Marvin and Shonda Pierre, believes they should have at least one state title to their credit. A big fish that came unbuttoned from his hook cost them that coveted state championship in 2020 at Toledo Bend, he said.

“Literally the last cast of the day, I hooked into a 15-pounder (on a Texas-rigged Senko). I kid you not. He came up and spit the hook. I had him on, I’d say, for a good 6, 7 seconds,” he said. “I cried like a baby. We could probably have won that tournament just off that one fish.

“I thought it was a ’goo (gaspergoo, a freshwater drum) at first. Then it came up, and I saw that mouth and said, ‘God!’ It was a hard time. He (Rousseve) tried to cheer me up. I cried like a baby all the way to the launch. We are fishing against these boys, and there ain’t no pushovers. I knew we could have won the tournament.”

Khristian Rousseve of Edgard smiles proudly as he signs a letter of intent to LSU-Shreveport. Rousseve, who graduated from West St. John High School, wraps up his high-school fishing career at a national championship in Tennessee the last weekend in July. (Photo courtesy www.lobservateur.com)

It would have been one more feather in their caps.

Rousseve, the son of Matthew and Dana Rousseve, signed with LSU-Shreveport the second week of May at the high school’s “Class of 2021 Decision Day’ ceremony in the school’s gymnasium.

Rousseve plans to earn a degree in finance. He has been packing ice, storing ice and delivering ice for years at Duck’s Ice, in Edgard, a business opened by his grandfather about 50 years ago.

Brandon Walters, WSJ’s athletics director, is oh-so proud of Rousseve, who he said has set the bar high for other local high school anglers.

“He’s doing really well. He’s really embraced the sport, and he loves it. We’re glad to be one of the pioneers in that sport. Bass fishing is an alive-and-running sport at West St. John, and we have some underclassmen still carrying the flag. The future is bright,” Walters told L’Observateur, a local newspaper.

Pierre will return in 2021. He wants to be a team leader, like Rousseve. He will fish with Devrin Harper, a junior, in 2021-22.

“We push each other to do our best. I’m happy for him. I know he’s going to do good,” Pierre said of his partnership with Rousseve. “We learned things from each other. When we first met, we really didn’t know much about bass fishing until we met our boat captain, Vernon Silver.”

Tip of cap to their captain

Rousseve was fishing from shore in a pit called The Crevasse Pond along the Mississippi River levee one day when he met Silver, a former FLW and Bassmaster tournament veteran. Silver gave him red shad Culprits worms, and Rousseve caught an 8-pound, 1-ounce bass on his first cast, Pierre said.

Silver captained the Rousseve-Pierre team throughout its high-school run.

“He’s like a second dad to me,” Pierre said. “He’ll do anything for us, and I’ll return the favor. There’s never a day I am on the water, never a day with Vernon, that I don’t learn something. That’s on and off the water.”

Pierre and Rousseve, have one tournament left to fish. They qualified for the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School National Championship on Tennessee’s Lake Chickamauga the last weekend in July.

Rousseve, who considers his home lakes Lake Boeuf and Lac Des Allemands, said he looks forward to his collegiate bass fishing career. After that, his goal is an appearance one day in the Bassmaster Classic.

Pierre’s goals include notching more high-school wins and earning a bass fishing scholarship. He plans to study business or engineering after high school.

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About Don Shoopman 431 Articles
Don Shoopman fishes for freshwater and saltwater species mostly in and around the Atchafalaya Basin and Vermilion Bay. He moved to the Sportsman’s Paradise in 1976, and he and his wife June live in New Iberia. They have two grown sons.

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