ATHENS—Gary Sims of Gunter, Texas, caught Toyota ShareLunker 538 from Lake Fork December 12. The fish weighed 15.02 pounds and was held for pickup at Oak Ridge Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station.
Examination revealed the fish was caught previously on March 13, 2011, by Ed Carter of Broken Bow, Oklahoma. At that time the fish weighed 14.25 pounds and was 22.25 inches in girth and 25 inches long and was Toyota ShareLunker 518. The fish is now 22 inches in girth and 25.25 inches long.
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.
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 back 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 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. 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 www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
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.