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Entries in trophy bass (74)

Wednesday
Dec262012

Lake Fork Lunker Caught a Second Time

TPWD Photo ©2012, Larry D. Hodge

The wisdom of catch-and-release for big fish has once again been confirmed, this time with ShareLunker 538 in the popular Texas trophy bass program sponsored by Toyota.

Gary Sims of Gunter caught the 15.02-pound bass Dec. 12 at Lake Fork. Examination of the fish revealed that it also was caught March 13, 2011, when it weighed 14.25 pounds.

Sims was fishing for crappie with a double jig in 30 feet of water near the dam when the big bass bit. “She made several long runs, and at first I thought it was a catfish, because we had already caught several,” Sims said. “Finally she came up and I lipped her.”

Lake Fork has now produced 250 of the 538 entries into the ShareLunker program.

Here’s more from Texas Parks and Wildlife about the fish and the program:

Genetic information on file shows the fish is an intergrade, or a cross between pure Florida largemouth and northern largemouth bass. Pure Floridas are held for spawning, while intergrades are returned to the lake as soon as possible. Fish caught on or after April 15 will be recorded and entered into the program but will not be transported to Athens for spawning. Experience shows that fish caught late in the season typically do not spawn in time for the offspring to be stocked before water temperatures rise beyond the optimum level for survival of the fingerlings.

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.

ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked  into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.

Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. All fish accepted into the program become official entries whether spawned or not, and anglers still receive all program prizes.

The person who catches the season’s largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.

For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year’s season, see the TPW website. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.

Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on Facebook.

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

Wednesday
Sep122012

You Can Compete for $100,000 on Lake Conroe

Now’s the time to sign up for a chance to win $100,000 in the Sharelunker Club Tournament (SCT) on Lake Conroe, Oct. 1-21.

A $100 fee is required to become a member and only pre-registered members will be eligible for the $100,000 prize. The member who catches the largest Toyota ShareLunker from Lake Conroe during the tournament period will win a cash prize of $100,000. A portion of program proceeds will benefit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s youth outreach programs.

Additionally, the SCT will kick off the annual Toyota ShareLunker Program across the state of Texas. It runs through April 30, with the mission of promoting the catch-and-release of large fish and selectively breeding trophy largemouth bass. A bass must weigh at least 13 pounds to be entered in the program.

A press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife says the following:

The ShareLunker Club Tournament is the perfect way to cap off the Toyota Texas Bass Classic and continue the excitement from the event, which will be held on Lake Conroe, Sept. 28-30.  

The Toyota Texas Bass Classic will feature 50 of the best professional anglers in the world along with three days of concerts and expos, with the anglers battling it out to claim the title of the world’s best.

The Toyota Texas Bass Classic tournament functions are operated by the Professional Anglers Association with technical assistance and support from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Inland Fisheries Division. Title sponsor for the event is Toyota.

Limited quantities of free tickets are available this year to the three-day outdoor music festival and professional bass fishing world championship. 

Wednesday
Aug082012

Elephants Eat Peanuts --- And Trophy Bass Eat Tiny Baits

The following is an excerpt from my book, Better Bass Fishing. It's about catching big bass on little baits.

And speaking of being prepared, that’s what enabled Barry St. Clair to catch the Texas state-record largemouth bass while he was fishing for crappie on Jan. 24, 1992.

As a bass angler, you’ve probably already heard the most compelling part of the story: St. Clair caught the 18.18-pound bass on a 1 ½-inch minnow.

But now you will learn the rest of the story.

St. Clair had been bass fishing on Lake Fork with two friends. They decided to stop and catch a few crappie for the table. St. Clair didn’t have light tackle with him, so he simply put 12-inches of 8-pound leader and a 1/0 gold Aberdeen hook onto his bass rod and reel, which was loaded with 14-pound line.

The strength of that line and the backbone of the rod played no small part in the battle that was about to occur.

“At first, I didn’t know what I had,” St. Clair told me. “But I never panicked. That’s what helped me get the fish in.

“I put pressure on it, and it started to move. Right away, I thought it might be a big catfish. But it didn’t act like a catfish.”

The fish ran three times, but stayed deep. “I took the time to wear her out,” St. Clair said. “Then I eased her toward the surface.

“When she came up, it was like an exploding buoy coming out of the water. We all were stunned. Then I screamed ‘Get the net!’ at my buddies.”

Once he had her in, St. Clair noted that the big bass “filled the bottom of the boat,” and he saw that the delicate wire hook was bent nearly into a circle. “Once more run and she would have been gone,” he said.

Since that memorable day, the man who works as an educational specialist at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center has learned that his experience was not unique.

Secret: In other words, big bass will eat little baits, just as elephants will munch peanuts.

“I’ve run across numerous examples of others who were doing the same thing (crappie fishing) when they hooked something big,” he said. “A few got them in, and the fish were in the 13-pound range. Others couldn’t do it. I was lucky that I had tackle stout enough to handle the fish.”

Here’s another example of a big bass dining at the hors d’oeuvre tray instead of the buffet table: In April 2006, Randy Beaty Jr. used a 1/8-ounce Blakemore Roadrunner to catch a 15.68-pound bass at Florida’s Bienville Plantation.

And my personal favorite: I caught a 12-pound, 4-ounce largemouth bass on a 3/8-ounce Cordell Spot, while fishing in Mexico’s Lake Guerrero. In case you’re not familiar with it, that lipless crankbait is a mere 3 inches long, seemingly hardly an appetizer for a big bass.

Why do big bass sometimes eat little baits?

Find the answer in Better Bass Fishing.

It’s not yet on the New York Times best-seller list, but it is getting good reviews:

One young reader told me in a letter: “I love the style that it is written in and how you give the reader superb secrets and then build on them through the book.”

Dave Burkhardt, CEO at Triple Fish/Trik Fish LLC added, “It is a super read and any bass fisherman would benefit from picking it up.”

Wednesday
Jun202012

'People Don't Realize the Growth Potential of Bass'

This bass grew from 2 inches long in June 2011 to 2 pounds by the first week in November 2011.

Want to grow bigger bass in your pond or lake? Then “step outside the box.”

That message comes from Barry Smith, owner of American Sport Fish Hatchery in Montgomery, Ala., and one of the nation’s foremost experts on growing big bass in small waters.     

“If you stock bluegill and bass at the traditional 10 to 1 ratio, in two years you will have an overcrowded pond,” Smith says, in explaining how to grow double-digit bass. “You’ll have too many bass and not enough bluegill.”

The 10 to 1 ratio for stocking, he explains, was developed during the 1940s, when the primary objective was to grow harvestable size bass (10 inches) and bluegill (6 inches). But today, when catch-and-release is practiced by many, those sizes are considered subpar.

“If you go from 10 to 1 to 20 or even 30 to 1 (bluegill to bass), you will grow trophy bass,” Smith continues. “A bass that is 2 inches in June can be 2 pounds by November.

“People don’t realize the growth potential of bass. They are eating machines.”

And once a bass reaches a pound, he adds, it can grow as much as 4 pounds a year.

“We have ponds where average growth is 2 pounds and in five years, a bass can weigh 10 to 12 pounds.”

No other variables, including genetics, are as important as having abundant forage. “You can’t express genetics if you don’t have enough food,” he says.

Having forage that is optimum size is important too. “It takes just as much energy for a bass to eat a 2-inch bluegill as a 4-inch bluegill,” Smith continues. “But the difference is 20 fold. A 4-inch bluegill weighs 20 times as much (as a 2-inch bluegill).”

That means more food is consumed, with less energy expended. And that allows more of that meal to be directed toward growth.

Smith adds that once a fishery managed for trophy bass is established, he recommends supplemental stockings of threadfin shad to boost growth even more.

(A variation of this article appeared originally in B.A.S.S. Times.)

Wednesday
May022012

Rodman Reservoir Attacked ---- Again

Rodman produces some of Florida's biggest bass, but it is a valuable resource for many other reasons.

Anti-fishing zealots have devised a new assault in their never-ending quest to destroy one of Florida’s best bass fisheries. This time they’re using the federal Endangered Species Act.

Those anglers who participated in the April 21 Save Rodman Open Fishing Tournament will help send a right-back-at-you volley across the bow of Florida Defenders of the Environment, Florida Wildlife Federation and Earthjustice.

And you can help too, by making a donation to Save Rodman Reservoir. Go here to learn more.

The tournament is the only fundraiser of the year for Save Rodman Reservoir Inc. (SRR), a small band of volunteers who have served as the guerilla resistance against the power and money of the environmental movement since 1995.

“Rodman Reservoir has been sitting there for 40 years and I can’t, for the life of me, see why any level-headed person would want to get rid of it,” said Ed Taylor, SRR president, who adds that the blind ideology of these groups has been driving him crazy for 17 years.

“What the enviros are hung up on is [the belief] that Rodman is not natural, and so it needs to go,” he said. “But the capitol building in Tallahassee is built in the middle of what used to be woods. It’s not natural either. A lot of things are not natural.”

Read the rest of my B.A.S.S. Times article about Rodman here.