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Entries in TPWD (19)

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/.

Friday
Mar092018

Healthy Bass Less Likely To Stockpile At Tournament Weigh-In Sites

Nationwide studies suggest that how far tournament-caught bass disperse from a weigh-in site is directly related to their condition, according to Todd Driscoll, fisheries biologist for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

"In general, it appears that if largemouth bass are released after tournaments in good shape, only short-term stockpiling occurs at release sites, as most fish disperse form release sites within 2 to 3 months and up to 40 percent of these fish may return to original capture sites," he said.

While displaced fish have demonstrated homing abilities up to 13 miles, he added, few make it back to their original territories if they are moved more than 6 miles.

"In contrast, as tournament-related stress increases, bass will disperse less," the biologist explained.

Additionally, specific rates of movement following individual tournaments likely are affected by available habitat, food availability, fish size, water temperature, and location of release, such as main lake or cove.

Meanwhile on one of the country's most popular tournament lakes, Texas' Sam Rayburn, a study indicates "that population-level impacts of tournament-related bass relocation and concentration are likely low.

"No question, stocking at release sites does occur, as we estimated that 31,050 bass were transported to weigh-in sites during the one-year study," Driscoll said.

"But we also estimated that tournament anglers transport only 5 percent of the total largemouth bass population of legal-length in one year. Simply put, only 1 out of 20 bass are subjected to relocation and potential crowding at release sites each year."

Just how popular is tournament fishing at Rayburn? TPWD estimates that 52 percent of that fishery's anglers participate in at least one competition per year, compared to only 6 percent of all Texas fishermen.

"We also estimated that there are over several hundred bass tournaments per year at Sam Rayburn, with tournament fishing comprising 36 percent of the total annual fishing effort (including practice fishing), and 46 percent of the bass fishing effort," Driscoll said.

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."

Friday
Jan122018

Texas Considers Simplifying Bass Regs.

Texas fisheries managers are considering simplifying bass regulations statewide.

“Largemouth bass are one of the first species we started managing in the state, and we’ve done a great job managing our bass fisheries through time,” said Dave Terre, chief of Inland Fisheries for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD).

“Our process has been to use different kinds of regulations for bass to accomplish specific management goals. With these potential changes, we still hope to attain the same management goals, but we are trying to reduce the number and kinds of special regulations with the goal of making them less complicated, more easily understood and enforceable.”

Under the recommendations that TPWD recently previewed to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, 12 of 18 lakes with special regulations would revert to the statewide 14-inch minimum length limit, which governs nearly 80 percent of the state's waterbodies. The other six would see changes appropriate to the population dynamics of those fisheries.

Granbury, Possum Kingdom, Ratcliff, Bryan, Cooper, Old Mount Pleasant City, Bridgeport, Burke-Crenshaw, Georgetown, Madisonville, San Augustine, and Sweetwater would be managed under the statewide length limit.

Meanwhile, TPWD is considering a change from the 14-to-24-inch slot length limit to a 16-24 slot for Fayette County Reservoir, Gibbons Creek Reservoir, and Lake Monticello. Additionally, Grapevine Lake would change to no minimum length limit with a bag limit of five fish of which only two can be less than 18 inches. Purtis Creek State Park Lake and Lake Raven would change from catch and release only to a five-fish daily bag and a 16-inch maximum length limit. The 16-24 slot and 16-inch maximum limits include provisions for anglers to possess bass 24 inches or longer for possible submission to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“Our goal is for anglers to see less variation of the largemouth bass rules when they visit Texas lakes,” Terre said. “But we are doing this without sacrificing our standards of making the bass fishing great. We hold that high and true for our fisheries.”

Before these changes were considered, he added, district fisheries biologists looked carefully at the special regulations to determine if they met current largemouth bass goals and objectives at each reservoir. In some cases, such as those lakes with 14-18 slot length limits and  16- and 18-inch minimum length limits, biologists found the regulations had little or mixed results on the bass population when compared to the statewide limit. Reservoirs having a 14-24 slot length limit or catch and release only were moved to other successful regulation types to reduce regulation complexity without compromising fishery management goals.

Early in 2018, Inland Fisheries staff  officially will present these possible changes to the commission. If the commission approves, the proposed changes will be published in the Texas Register, which begins the process of official public comment.

Wednesday
Dec202017

Texas' TrophyCatch Expands Opportunities For Anglers

 

For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. The program also has a new logo and look that conveys the excitement of catching a lunker bass.

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


The four new levels of achievement are as follows:

Lunker Legacy Class: Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. 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. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing 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. Additional prizes may be included in both of these prize drawings prior to their entry deadlines.

Lunker Legend Class: Anglers who enter a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Elite Class: Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

Lunker Class: Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.

A new logo and new tagline, “Bigger Better Bass,” highlight the branding changes to the program, which also includes new Toyota ShareLunker branded merchandise for prizes, updated marketing materials and a new website and mobile application to make it easy to enter your catch in the program and keep up with the latest ShareLunker news

Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their smartphone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.

In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.

“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 also 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 back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens 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.”

For program updates, photos and to keep up with Texas lunker catches, join the ShareLunker community online at Facebook.

More details on the shopping spree and other prizes for ShareLunker entries will be finalized and shared in the near future.

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.