ATHENS, TX -- Toyota ShareLunker program manager David Campbell might well be putting new words to the song “It’s a Long, Long Way to Tipperary” before the current season ends.
Falcon International Reservoir sent Toyota ShareLunker 512 to Athens February 18, its second entry of the year. Falcon is a 10-hour drive from Athens.
O.H. Ivie produced Toyota ShareLunker 513 February 19, its sixth entry of the year. O.H. Ivie is a five- to six-hour drive from Athens.
And here’s the scary part: Both lakes have a history of producing the bulk of their entries in March and April.
O.H. Ivie, which produced 11 ShareLunkers last season, had turned in only two fish by February 21, 2010.
While hatchery crews from the A.E. Wood State Fish Hatchery in San Marcos usually make the run to Falcon to pick up fish, Campbell still has to meet them in San Marcos—often in the middle of night—and complete the run to Athens, a 10-hour round trip.
Campbell returned to Athens at 3:00 a.m. with the Falcon fish and was on the road to pick up the O.H. Ivie fish at mid-morning. That’s a 12-hour round trip.
The latest entry from Falcon, Toyota ShareLunker 512, was caught about 10:00 a.m. February 18 from four feet of 65-degree water on a plum-apple lizard by Charles Hardin of DeSoto, Missouri. The fish weighed 13.84 pounds and was 24.5 inches long and 20.5 inches in girth.
The fish was held for pickup at Robert’s Bait and Tackle in Zapata, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station.
Travis Lane Epperson of Lubbock used a deep-diving crank bait in 10 to 12 feet of 50-degree water to catch Toyota ShareLunker 513 from O.H. Ivie February 19. The fish weighed 13.55 pounds and was 26 inches long and 20.25 inches in girth. It was held for pickup at Elm Creek Village, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station.
Official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations have been established at a number of reservoirs in order to provide anglers access to certified scales and to ensure that fish are held in an environment that will keep them in the best possible health. A list of the stations can be found at www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker.
Campbell also returned two ShareLunkers caught earlier this year because DNA analysis showed them not to be 100 percent Florida largemouth bass. Only pure Florida bass are used in the selective breeding program. The fish returned were Toyota ShareLunkers 506 from O.H. Ivie and 508 from Lake Austin.
Fish not used in the selective breeding program are still official Toyota ShareLunkers, and anglers will receive their replicas and ShareLunker clothing at the ShareLunker banquet in June.
The closest parallel to the big bass boom currently under way on O.H. Ivie is what happened at Lake Alan Henry in 2005 and 2006. Alan Henry produced nine ShareLunkers in each of those years. However, its location southeast of Lubbock means its big fish production peaks later than more southern lakes like O.H. Ivie and Falcon. By February 21, 2005, Alan Henry had produced four ShareLunkers, while none had come from the lake by that date in 2006.
And O.H. Ivie? Last season it exploded in March and April, churning out one in March and seven in April.
Hang on to your hat. And sing along with David Campbell: “It’s a long, long way to O.H. Ivie….”