Fishing a Louisiana Media Bass singles tournament on Lake Claiborne, things didn’t exactly start out so well for Chris Clement.

On his very first trip to Lake Claiborne near Homer, the 44-year-old mechanic shop owner from Bastrop endured enough headaches to just about make him want to give up.

“On Saturday, I was trying to learn the lake because I’d never been to Claiborne before,” Clement said. “I high-centered my boat in a few inches of water and it took more than an hour to get it off the hump. Also, I never got the first bite that day.”

But there’s more. On tournament day, Feb. 18, Clement decided to fish Horse Creek near the dam and encountered another problem that could have resulted in serious consequences.

“I turned off the main lake into the creek and was headed toward the back of the creek going wide open when the throttle stuck and I couldn’t slow the boat down,” he said. “To keep from running into a stump or out the end of the creek, I slammed it into reverse with the consequence being I spun a hub on my motor. 

“After finally getting it stopped, I lowered my trolling motor and started fishing.”

Apparently, the fishing gods decided at that point he’d endured enough heartache, and his luck started to change. 

After about an hour of working a jig along a row of stumps in the back of the creek, Clement set the hook on a good tournament fish, a 5-pounder. 

“Then around 9, I decided to switch baits, and picked up my rod with a ⅜-ounce War Eagle white hot chartreuse and white double-willow leaf spinnerbait, and cast it to a stump that had a limb hanging over it,” he said. “I eased the bait over the limb, let it drop and a big fish nailed it.”

Thinking he may have tied into a big choupique, he held on as the fish twisted and turned and stayed beneath the surface until it finally came to the top near the boat, clearing the water by 18 inches.

“When I saw what I had, my heart got to racing and I held on. I don’t use a dip net so I knew I had to get the fish close enough to lip it,” he said. “On the first try, I missed, and she dove under the boat but I was finally able to work her out and grabbed her and put her in the boat.”

The big bass tipped the scales at 12.79 pounds and after the weigh-in, which he won with four fish weighing 23.69 pounds, he released the big bass and watched it swim away, apparently none the worse for wear.

Clement’s bass is thought to be the largest bass ever caught in Lake Claiborne.