Paul Clark isn't exactly sure why Bayou Bartholomew turns on right before a rainstorm, but it's been his experience that the best time to head there is right before Mother Nature gets fickle.

So there he was on the morning of March 9, sitting in the middle of a driving rainstorm. And like clockwork, the bite turned on.

After snagging six or seven quality bites, his persistence paid off in the form of the biggest bass he's ever boated: a 10-pound, 10-ounce monster caught in about 4 feet of water in the thick grass that chokes off sections of Bartholomew.

"It was a monsoon by the time I caught this one," Clark said. "If you fish there often, you know it's a good place to go right before nasty weather.

"Well, it was nasty. I knew it was going to be raining and that's why I went there."

Most of Clark's bites that morning were coming on a Zoom Fluke and a Trick Worm. At first, he thought the big bass was a 6- to 7-pounder, but he knew she was bigger when he bent the rod and the fish tail walked across the grass.

The catch impressed Clark mightily, which is saying something: He's president of the University of Louisiana-Monroe fishing team, and has competed on renowned bass factories such as Texas' Lake Amistad and Falcon Lake.

The fact the biggest bass of his life came from Bayou Bartholomew and not either of those tournament hotspots didn't overly surprise Clark, however. He said a few days before he caught his monster bass, word was that someone landed an 11 -pounder on Bartholomew.

"At a place like Amistad or Falcon, you may catch 50 fish that run 3 to 5 pounds each," he said. "That's not something you're going to do on Bartholomew.

"But there are some pretty big ones in there."

The 23-year old Monroe native will graduate in May with a degree in construction management, and he said the huge bass is something of an early graduation present.

"It's really exciting," he said.