Damein Clements was behind the wheel of his pickup truck a few weeks ago rather than his high performance fiberglass bass boat or his party barge he uses as a full-time fishing guide.
The Abbeville outdoorsman was on a fatherly mission. He was heading home on Memorial Day from his job site — all of Toledo Bend — to surprise his wife, Mallory Kapp Clements, and young daughters, Rylee Clements, 8, and Raegan Clements, 5.
While driving south on Interstate 49, he had time to think and talk about family, including his father, Eric Clements, and a fairly recent, dramatic, career change.
SECOND YEAR AS FISHING GUIDE
Clements, who celebrated his 35th birthday Monday, is in his second year as a fishing guide. The DC Fishing Services, LLC owner also has been a consistent bass tournament angler in Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation and in Major League Fishing’s Phoenix Bass Fishing League.
He is putting all his effort and most of his waking hours into making his new career work. There hasn’t been a day he woke up and regretted going on the job, he said.
“The day it gets boring for me is the day I need to find a new career. I don’t think that day will ever come. I’m excited about someone having their ‘first catch’ or ‘most catch’ … bonding between father and son. That keeps me going for them to be able to catch their first fish or most fish,” he said about introducing people to his second specialty in angling — crappie fishing.
“The only downfall to being a guide and that is seeing 500 to 1,000 fish per day (on marine electronics) and catching 50 or 60, which ain’t bad. The day I figure out how to make those (other fish) bite I’ll be the best guide on Toledo Bend.”
He puts the time into being successful by planting and rebrushing 60 brush piles, 39 that are producing in early June.
He brushes them every Tuesday.
Clements, born and raised in Franklin, has a big heart full of love and caring for his wife, for his daughters, for his family and friends, for fishing.
HIS FATHER HAS DEMENTIA
He also has a heavy heart. Eric Clements, the man who taught him how to fish, who helped him grow up, who steered him in the right direction after high school, was diagnosed with dementia three years ago at age 56.
Clements and his father spent hours on the water fishing for bass, bream, redfish and/or speckled trout and beaucoup days/nights camping out. He loves his father like his young daughters, Rylee and Raegan, love him as their father, and as his wife, Mallory, loves her father, Chris Kapp of Lydia.
“I think about dad every time I set the hook,” Clements said.
He visits his father, who is in a nursing home, as often as possible. There is an emptiness, a void, that is overwhelming each time.
“He’s there but he’s not there,” he said.
Oh, his father smiles at the photos he shows of bass tournament catches and triumphs. The son, however, said he misses the banter and longs for his dad to ask “What’d you catch them on?” and “How’d you catch that big bass?
His emotions overcame him at that point of the conversation. He had a difficult time talking about it.
“It’s tough, you know. I mean, I’m thankful he’s still here … I try to talk to him about good finishes and show him pictures. He sees it but can’t comprehend the accomplishment. He’ll point at a picture and smile,” Clements said.
Clements’ mother, Lori Clements, lives in Charenton.
“It’s very tough on her. Basically, she lost her companion,” he said.
WORKING PARENTS HAVE SUPPORT
Clements and his wife both work. Mallory, 29, who was born and raised in Lydia, is a merchandiser claims specialist for Stuller Inc., which supplies fine jewelry, mountings, packaging, diamonds and gemstones for retail jewelry. With both parents working, their girls are in good hands.
“We have a lot of support with my parents and my sister, Kimberly,” she said about Chris and Melissa Kapp of Lydia and Kimberly Kapp Albert of Youngsville.
Clements was a Drillco logistics coordinator five years after working 10 years as a deck superintendent on offshore oil field platforms for Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc.
They were starting a project to redo floors in their home in July 2020 — the coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation — when he was laid off by Drillco.
“The carpets were off the floors. The next day he got the call. I just knew in my mind he wasn’t going to look for a job. He’d been wanting to guide. I had a feeling and that’s the avenue he chose,” his wife said.
She agreed, noting she’s a “realist” accustomed to regular paychecks and admitting she leaned the other way at first.
How is it working out? It’s a work in progress.
“People want to fish. That’s a good thing,” she said, adding his clientele has increased steadily as he puts people on dozens upon dozens of crappie.
AWAY FROM HOME A LOT
Still, guiding keeps him away from home.
“We live here. That’s in Toledo Bend. He does what he can. If he does have a day off, he comes home. He acts like it’s 20 minutes,” she said, appreciatively.
He’s a “great father,” she said.
“Of course, he would have wanted a boy. He loves them (their daughters). They have him wrapped around their fingers,” she said.
And the girls are interested in fishing, particularly after Rylee caught 13 crappie on her own recently at Toledo Bend. And Raegan, who casts a baitcasting rod and reel combo and catches bass on a jerkbait, told him all she wanted special was for him to bring home a trophy from the B.A.S.S. Nation Central Region Championship on May 4-5 in Oklahoma. He brought home a regional championship plaque.
“She’s starting to be a little fisher(wo)man. She’s asking to come fishing with me every time,” he said.
Clements misses them dearly. He missed Rylee’s birthday May 29 but was hoping to make up for that with his surprise visit the next day, Memorial Day Monday.
“It’s very tough because I used to be home every night. It’s a transition from seeing the kids every afternoon to two days a week. It’s a good moment to walk in the door and all the hugs and smiles. You get a warm feeling when they come running to the door to meet you,” he said.
Are there any moves in the future? No and yes, he said, adding there are no plans to move the family to Toledo Bend.
“I’d like to, worst-case (scenario), have two homes. Within the next two weeks we’re looking to buy a camper and land,” he said.
If that happens, he said, his wife and daughters can visit on weekends.
“I’ve got to get back in the groove of things. I want it to be my future,” he said, envisioning a time when he could be at home in Abbeville more than half the year.
“I’d like to come home around September and do (guide) speckled trout and redfish. That’d put me home until May the following year,” he said.
BASS TOURNAMENTS TAKING BACKSEAT
His bass tournament days probably are numbered.
“Honestly, as much as I hate to say it, next year I’ll be taking a tournament break to focus on my guiding career. Me and my wife talked about it and agreed to put tournaments on the backburner,” he said, noting he will finish out the Louisiana B.A.S.S. Nation qualifying schedule for 2022 and see how he fares in the MLF’s Phoenix Bass Fishing League’s final tournament Aug. 27-28 at Lake Sam Rayburn. He’s in 17th place in the point standings following tournaments at Lake O’ the Pines (May 14), Lake Sam Rayburn (April 2), Toledo Bend (Feb. 5) and Lake Sam Rayburn (Jan. 8).
Clements said, “I gave it a good run. I’m still pretty young. I feel 25. I’ll come back strong in a couple of years.”