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Entries in Sharelunker (26)

Wednesday
Mar282018

Kurth Reservoir Yields First Texas ShareLunker Ever

For the first time in the 32-year history of the Toyota ShareLunker program, Kurth Reservoir in Lufkin has produced a largemouth bass entry exceeding 13 pounds. Angler Pablo Torres Jr., of Lufkin, caught the 13.34-pound, 26-inch Legacy Class lunker in less than 8 feet of water while fishing with his son-in-law March 25.

“At first I didn’t even know it was a fish – it thought I was hung up,” Torres said. “I tightened up, and it started swimming, and when it started pulling the line, I thought ‘this might be a good fish.’”
 
“Catching a ShareLunker from Kurth was the farthest from my dreams until I saw it in the net,” Torres added. “When we got it to the boat and it turned to the side, my jaw dropped and I thought ‘Oh my gosh.'”
 
Although he has seen and heard of larger fish being caught from Kurth, Torres said being the first angler to enter a Toyota ShareLunker from the lake was a great feeling. He decided to loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning to contribute to the number of Florida largemouth bass being stocked in his area.
 
“Kurth is a fantastic lake with a lot of lunkers in it,” Torres said. “[Texas Parks and Wildlife Department] stocks a lot of the ‘Floridas’ in Sam Rayburn Reservoir and other surrounding lakes, so this is a good way for me to help contribute to the area. And this fish will be released back to Kurth when they are done with it.”
 
Todd Driscoll, the TPWD Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for the Jasper district, said he was not surprised at all to hear that the East Texas lake had produced a Toyota Sharelunker entry.
 
“This lake has everything it needs to produce big fish – including ample amounts of aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, which covers 30-40 percent of the reservoir,” Driscoll said. “That produces really strong year classes of fish. In addition to a 16-inch maximum limit, we have also been stocking it for years with frequent stockings of pure Florida largemouth bass to increase trophy potential of lake.”
 
ShareLunker 575 is the fifth Legacy Class entry of the season with the previous entries coming from Twin Buttes Reservoir and Lake Fork. 
 
ShareLunker 575 was transported to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens where hatchery staff will monitor and care for her in preparation for spawning. Also in the “Lunker Bunker” are the four other Legacy Class entries of the season: Toyota ShareLunker 574, a 13.40 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Austin Terry from Twin Buttes Reservoir March 14; Toyota ShareLunker 573, a 13.06 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Alex Finch from Lake Fork March 11; Toyota ShareLunker 572, a 13.00 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Michael Terrebonne from Lake Fork March 8; and Toyota ShareLunker 571, a 15.48 pound largemouth bass caught by angler John LaBove from Lake Fork March 2.
 
Texas anglers who catch a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass can loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning through March 31.
 
Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.
 
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
 
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, go here or here.

Tuesday
Mar132018

Lake Fork Gives Up Third 13-Pounder In Less Than Two Weeks

AUSTIN – For the third time in less than two weeks, Lake Fork has delivered what many anglers dream about for a lifetime – a 13-pound-plus Toyota ShareLunker largemouth bass. For angler Alex Finch, who landed the 13.06 pound Legacy Class largemouth bass during a solo fishing trip March 11, the catch checked off a “bucket list” item he’s been aiming at for years.

“This was one thing in my lifetime I said I wanted to do – catch a ShareLunker,” said Finch, of North Richland Hills. “I’ve accomplished a lot in the sport of fishing and I’ve caught a lot of big bass by most people’s standards, but I’ve never put one on the scale and had it read like that. My initial reaction was like “finally!”

After landing ShareLunker 573 on a bait he built himself – a Finch Nasty Thumper Gizzard Shad – Finch took the fish to be weighed and held at the Minnow Bucket Marina until Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries staff arrived to verify the catch and transport it to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. The fish is now in the “Lunker Bunker” at the TFFC being monitored and cared for by hatchery staff to prepare for spawning as part of the program’s selective breeding program.

“Loaning the fish to the ShareLunker program for spawning was an easy decision for me,” Finch said. “My priorities were taking good care of the fish and the public purpose of the donation. The Toyota ShareLunker program has really helped make Texas fishing better than it is in any other state.”

ShareLunker 573’s roommates at the “Lunker Bunker” include Lake Fork’s two other Legacy Class entries for the season – Toyota ShareLunker 572, a 13.00 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Michael Terrebonne March 8; and Toyota ShareLunker 571, a 15.48 pound largemouth bass caught by angler John LaBove March 2.

Although Lake Fork is well known as a big bass hotspot, not every year yields Toyota ShareLunker entries. To have three caught and entered in less than two weeks was surprising to many local anglers, including Finch.

“I’ve been fishing at Lake Fork for 5 years and I’ve seen it cycle,” Finch said. “Last year we really started to see the population of fish coming back. We knew there were going to be some big fish caught here this year, but we had no idea we would be seeing three ShareLunkers in nine days – that’s incredible.”

Texas anglers who catch their “bucket list” 13 pound or larger largemouth bass can loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning through March 31.

Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, visit www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram or https://texassharelunker.com/.

Tuesday
Feb062018

Texas Expands ShareLunker Program

More anglers will be eligible to participate in Texas' Toyota ShareLunker program in 2018, as Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) announces big changes in the strategy designed to grow bigger bass for the state's fisheries.

First, the program that began in 1986 now is year-around, instead of beginning in the fall and ending in spring. But most importantly, bass weighing 8 pounds and more now are eligible, a qualification identical to that of Florida's TrophyCatch.

“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, program coordinator.

“This year, for the first time ever, anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science.

"We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”

ShareLunker now has four levels: Lunker Legacy Class, Lunker Legend Class, Lunker Elite Class, and Lunker Class.

Lunker Legacy is awarded to anglers who loan bass of 13 pounds or larger during the spawning period from Jan. 1 to March 31

"These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker," TPW said.

Lunker Legend will apply to those who enter a largemouth bass of 13 pounds or more from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, while Lunker Elite is for anglers catching a bass weighing from 10 to 12.99 pounds. Anglers who enter a bass of at least 8 pounds or 24 inches in length from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 will earn Lunker Class recognition.

All participants in the latter three will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit, containing branded merchandise, fishing tackle, an achievement decal, and entry into the year-end ShareLunker prize drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license.

Anglers who catch qualifying fish can enter them using a new ShareLunker mobile application with their smartphones. It is free to download on iTunes and Google Play, as well as on the new ShareLunker website. Digital entry forms will allow anglers to submit photos of their fish being measured, weighed, and held. Additionally, anglers will be able to provide genetic samples of their fish by collecting and sending scales to TPW using instructions from the application and website.

“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important.

"We need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”

Hatcheries staff will  attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked in the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, Meanwhile, genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center  and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.

“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state.

"We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program."

Monday
Oct022017

Toyota ShareLunker Program Goes New Year Around, Starting Jan. 1

After more than 31 years of collecting and spawning 13 pound or larger "lunker" largemouth bass, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program is announcing big changes and an expanded mission in an effort to better engage the public in the promotion and enhancement of lunker bass fishing in Texas public waters.

The ShareLunker participation season will now run each year from Jan.1 through Dec. 31; a change from previous seasons. But similar to last year, only those entries collected between Jan. 1 – March 31 will be accepted as broodstock for spawning.

"This provides the greatest opportunity to obtain eligible fish for spawning while minimizing the risk of additional handling and possible mortality," said Kyle Brookshear, ShareLunker program coordinator.

Outside of the spawning window, the new year-round participation season will allow for anglers catching bass 8 pounds or larger to submit information about their catch through a web application in four categories: 8 pounds or larger, 10 pounds or larger, 13 pounds or larger and 13 pounds or larger with a spawning donation.

The goal is to increase the number of participants in the Toyota ShareLunker program and expand large fish catch rate data for fisheries biologists, Brookshear said. As a bonus, the new size categories open up more ways for anglers to receive prizes and incentives for participating.

"This citizen scientist initiative will allow fisheries biologists to better monitor the impact of ShareLunker stockings across Texas and provide more incentives and opportunities for Texans to help us make our bass fishing bigger and better than ever," Brookshear said.

Other spawning program changes include converting the entire hatchery broodstock to pure-Florida ShareLunker offspring. Genetically pure offspring will be maintained on the hatchery, grown to adulthood, then distributed to production hatcheries and used as broodstock. Eventually, all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass broodstock will be descendants of ShareLunkers, Brookshear said.

Additionally, attempts will be made to spawn all donated eligible ShareLunkers — regardless of the degree of genetic introgression. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year.

"People come to Texas from all over the country for our lunker bass fishing, and it's still very rare to catch a 13 pounder," said Mandy Scott, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center director. "So that's why ShareLunker is special. We learned a long time ago that these fish were important and we wanted to try to capitalize on the big fish that we have in Texas already and make fishing even bigger and better."

Brookshear said the program will announce the full list of changes and the new prizes closer to the beginning of the season, but anglers can also look forward to a complete rebranding of the program to include a new logo, graphics, and eventually more ShareLunker Weigh Stations to aid in the weigh-in process. Additionally, education and outreach specialists at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center are developing ShareLunker science curriculum for Texas classrooms.

For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year's season, go here. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program. Or follow the program on social media.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

Monday
May152017

Caddo Angler Catches Second 15-Pounder for ShareLunker Program 

Ronnie Arnold earned himself a unique place in Texas' Toyota ShareLunker program recently, when he landed a 15.7-pound largemouth bass in Caddo Lake, a fishery on the border with Louisiana.

In donating the fish to the trophy bass spawning program managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Arnold became the first angler to enter two fish of 15 pounds or more. In 2009, he caught a 15.1-pound fish, also at Caddo.

Seventeen anglers have multiple entries, including five with three fish. Bill Reed's two were the heaviest pair collectively, with one weighing 16.54 pounds and the other 14.91.

Arnold's catch was the ninth from Caddo donated to the program begun in 1986. The lake record, 16.17, was entered by Keith Burns in 2010. Then, Sean Swank caught the same fish in 2011, when its weigh had dropped slightly to 16.07.

The latest Caddo entry was the third of the spring statewide for ShareLunker and No. 568 since the program began in 1986. It also was the largest since Swank's catch.

With a minimum weight requirement of 13 pounds, the program was established "to promote catch-and-release of large fish and to selectively breed trophy largemouth bass," TPWD said. "The first fish entered into the program was also a new state record, a 17.67-pounder caught from Lake Fork in November (1986)."

The first ShareLunker of the 2017 season, meanwhile, also was historic. Testing revealed the 13.07-pound fish caught at Marine Creek Lake was spawned from ShareLunker 410 and a male ShareLunker offspring. That made it the first of that size from  specially selected trophy-potential parents paired in 2006 as part of a research project to evaluate the growth of selectively bred, faster-growing Florida largemouths in public reservoirs.

“The catch of ShareLunker 566 from Marine Creek Lake not only validates the goal of TPWD’s selective breeding program of producing ShareLunker-size bass, but also demonstrates how anglers can help others by donating their ShareLunkers to TPWD for breeding purposes,” said ShareLunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear.