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Entries in trophy bass (80)

Thursday
Apr122018

I caught this 5-pound smallmouth on a recent trip with Rick Hart of Rick Hart's TightLines on the Tennessee River below Wheeler Dam. Fish hit on my first cast of a rainy, miserable day. On the frigid day before, I caught a 6-pounder on my second cast! Great trip despite the weather.

You can find out how Rick targets and catches these big smallies in my upcoming book, Kickin' Bass, which should be out in the fall. Until then, check out my other books, including Better Bass Fishing, available at Amazon.

Thursday
Apr052018

My Best Smallmouth!

I had a tough day of fishing April 5. Didn't catch a 6-pound smallie until my second cast! Biggest ever for me. Hope to boat an even larger one tomorrow.

Previous best was 5-12.

Caught this beast fishing tailwaters below Wheeler Dam on the Tennessee River with Rick Hart of Rick Hart's TightLines.

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/.

Thursday
Mar082018

Tagging Studies Help States Manage Bass Fisheries

Tagged bass from Florida's Lake Eustis

Tagging studies are among the most important management tools for fisheries biologists.

"Biologists primarily use tagging studies to estimate annual catch and harvest rates for fish populations to help managers set regulations that sustain healthy bass populations," said the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which is conducting three studies that range from a statewide look at trophy bass to one targeting fish in a single lake. 

"These studies also engage anglers in the scientific process, helping connect researchers and managers to the stakeholders they serve and validate the science on which management decisions are made."

A study begins with researchers collecting, tagging, and releasing fish. Each tag has a phone number on it so anglers can report information about their catch. In some cases, tags also have monetary rewards associated with them to encourage angler response.

In Florida, biologists use 3.5-inch yellow plastic dart tags, attached on the left side near the dorsal fin.

"If you catch a tagged bass, clip the tag close to the fish's back and save the tag," FWC explained. "Anglers are not obligated to release tagged bass, but must comply with harvest regulations.

"When you report the tag, an FWRI (Fish and Wildlife Research Institute) member will ask a few brief questions about your catch and help you claim the monetary reward.

"Remember to check each bas you catch. Sometimes algae covers the tag, making it somewhat difficult to see."

The trophy-size bass study is Florida's most ambitious, designed to evaluate the influence of the TrophyCatch program. One year before the program started in 2012, biologists tagged bass weighing 8 pounds or more in fisheries across the state.

"They used data collected during that period to establish a baseline for catch and harvest rates," FWC said. "Biologists estimate that anglers caught approximately 21 percent of the tagged bass, and harvested 4 percent during the baseline year. "They also found that bass weighing more than 10 pounds were harvested at a higher rate, primarily for taxidermy, than smaller bass."

Biologists also are conducting a reward-based tagging study in 16 lakes in northwestern Florida to measure catch and harvest rates and a stock assessment tagging study in Lake Eustis on the Harris Chain.

"Biologists will use data from tag reports (on Eustis) to estimate the percentage of bass caught and harvested each year," FWC said.

"They will combine this information with other data and provide it to mangers, who can then determine if the current length and bag limits are appropriate or need to be adjusted.

"As a secondary objective," it continued, "biologists are using what they learn from the tag returns, along with data from creel surveys and other information, to determine the best way to estimate the total number of bass in a lake."