A 16-year-old Loreauville outdoorsman who admires bass fishing pros like Caleb Sumrall of New Iberia and Tyler Carriere of Youngsville may be a future Bassmaster Elite.
Hunter Neuville, who reeled in his first bass at age 3 while fishing with his father on Lake Dauterive, is started in that direction as he tries his hand at various tournament in the Teche Area, including the Wednesday Night Hawg Fights Bass Tournament Series, and around the Sportsman’s Paradise.
The son of Tony and Donna Neuville, Hunter will be a junior at Highland Baptist Christian School, where he is in his third year on the HBCS Fishing Team. Hunter and other high school bass fishermen are excited because the Louisiana High School Athletic Association recently voted to classify the high school bass fishing as a probationary sport this fall under the LHSAA and FLW umbrella.
“He’s a very quiet teenager until you talk to him about hunting or fishing so he definitely was given the right name by his dad,” his mother said last week.
Hunter has been an avid deer hunter who killed his first deer at age 7, his dad said. He has two “nice bucks” to his credit and usually harvests three or four each season, the elder Neuville said.
“He enjoys deer hunting, too, but I think fishing comes before deer hunting,” he said, noting they hunt on private property inside Sherburne Wildlife Management Area.
When Hunter isn’t on the water this summer, he’s following Bassmaster Elites. He is proud of Sumrall and his favorite is Carriere.
“He’s a good fisherman. He always stays consistent, always does good in tournaments,” he said about Sumrall, who finished fourth in the recent Bassmaster Elites stop at Lake Guntersville in Alabama.
“I watched a good bit of it. He was one good bite away from winning,” he said.
About Carriere, he said, “I’ve never met him but he’s from Louisiana. I just like the style he fishes and he fishes the same stuff we do.”
Coincidentally, Sumrall and Carriere have fished Hawg Fights, like Hunter.
Older bass anglers are taking notice of the teen bass angler.
“I did see him scouting a few times. He’s a hard fisherman. He scouts a lot. It looks like he does his homework,” Mike Sinitiere of New Iberia, WN Hawg Fight BTS director for a second straight year, said.
Sinitiere is pleased to see young, energetic, gung-ho bass anglers fishing the popular mini bass tournament circuit. They include Hunter, Gavin Savoy, 16, of Catahoula, twin brothers Luke Romero and Ben Romero, 13, of Coteau, and Mike Louviere Jr. of Loreauville.
Hunter has fished five of the seven WN Hawg Fight BTS events with his dad and another one with Alex Lassalle. The next WN Hawg Fight BTS is July 10 at Lake Fausse Pointe out of Marsh Field Boat Landing.
He welcomes each opportunity to fish with his dad, whose grandfather, the late J.O. Neuville Sr., used to take him fishing as a boy on the lake, as did his father, J.O. Neuville Jr. of Loreauville.
“It works out well (fishing with his dad in Hawg Fights) because we both have the same style of fishing and we both have a lot of the same ideas in mind while we’re fishing tournaments,” Hunter said.
His dad said, “It’s fun. I’m not much of a tournament fisherman but I like Hawg Fights. I just don’t get to fish the front of the boat much anymore. He puts me in the back. He catches all the big ones, the bigger ones. I’m very proud of the fisherman he turned out to be and I see him getting better in the future.”
Hunter said he likes the Hawg Fights. He enjoys any kind of bass fishing competition.
Tony agreed and said, “I’m very proud of him. He’s very competitive. He likes to compete. He’s starting to outdo me. He enjoys the tournament fishing, the high school and the Hawg Fights.”
With four of the seven regular-season tournaments remaining on the schedule, the teen is in The Top 25 in the standings with 471 points. Brad Romero, 25, of New Iberia, rode back-to-back first-place finishes, with big bass points each time, in the fifth and sixth tournaments to grab the overall lead with 629 points.
Hunter has a goal to reach for down the stretch.
“I’m hoping to get some Top 3 finishes before it’s over with,” he said.
He realizes it won’t be easy.
“There are a lot of good people that fish, a lot of great fishermen. It’s been fun fishing around different people and kind of learning from other people as well. I’ve been starting to fish with more new people that I haven’t fished with before,” he said.
“This year has been tough. Most of the tournaments, I’ve been kind of struggling this year. It’s kind of hard to find fish in practice. The fish I find scouting for tournaments, it’s hard to get back on them for tournaments. I go scout, catch two 2 1/2s or 3-pounders, and go back and have a hard time finding those fish again.”
The young all-around outdoorsman came close to cashing in with his dad in their last outing on June 19 at Lake Fausse Pointe.
The Neuvilles weighed in a three-bass limit at 6.56 pounds for a fifth-place showing in a 25-boat field. That bag of bass was highlighted by a 3 ½-pound class bass that came oh-so close to raking in “big bass” cash, which went instead to St. Martin Parish veteran bassers Randy Durand and Gregory Bourque, who put a 3.83-pound bass on the electronic scale manned by weighmaster Mike O’Brien of New Iberia.
Hunter is both polite and modest. He didn’t mention any of his accomplishments on the HBCS Fishing Team. His dad was the one who pointed out the 16-year-old high school bass angler finished first in his district while fishing with Avery Derouen, also a junior at HBCS who has fished a few of this year’s WN Hawg Fight BTS tournaments. The high school bass fishing district contests this year were at Lake Dauterive-Fausse Pointe, Bayou Teche at Patterson, Chicot State Park and Bayou Amy.
The teen also fished a statewide high school tournament and finished sixth in the 110-boat field at Toledo Bend, his father said with pride. He qualified to fish the state tournament earlier this year out of Amelia.
Hunter fishes tournaments in his dad’s 19-foot Triton powered by a 200-h.p. Mercury outboard motor. When he prefishes, he goes in his 16-foot flat with a 60-h.p. Merc.
He also fishes with two friends his age, Andre Weber, a Catholic High School student, and Dominique Boudreaux, who is homeschooled.
His favorite artificial lures are Kajun Boss spinnerbaits and Cajun Lures Bayou Bugs.
His mother was surprised, pleasantly, to see her son’s interest in fishing take a different direction earlier this year. Without telling anyone but Cajun Lures owner Zach Dubois of Kaplan, Hunter produced a demo video about a weed guard for sac-a-lait leadheads he used with a Slim Jimmy.
It can be seen at www.facebook.com/CajunLures/videos. The video, posted March 1, is titled “Salter’s Weed Guard with Hunter Neuville.”