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Toyota ShareLunker Season Ends with Big Day at O.H. Ivie
Double dipper and new lake record come out; four others go back in
ATHENS, Texas — April 30, the last day of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s 2009-2010 Toyota ShareLunker season, brought proof that sometimes it’s a good idea to pay attention to those "funny feelings" you get now and then.
Jerry Bales of Hico had two big fish in his livewells, and he had a feeling one of them was big enough to become a ShareLunker-13 pounds. But when the fish was weighed at Elm Creek Village Marina at O.H. Ivie, an official ShareLunker weigh and holding station, the scale read only 10 pounds. Disappointed, Bales and his fishing companions were already headed back to the lake when one of them said, "I think we weighed the wrong fish."
Sure enough, they’d taken the fish from the wrong livewell. When the right fish was weighed, it came in at 16.08 pounds, making it not only Toyota ShareLunker 503 but also a new lake record that bested the old mark by nearly a pound and a half.
Bales’s fish missed being the largest entry of the season by only 0.09 pounds. That honor, and Angler of the Year title, go to Keith Burns for the 16.17-pounder he caught from Caddo Lake March 20.
However, Bales takes over the number 19 spot on the top 50 list of biggest bass caught in Texas.
Bales’s catch also made the current season the first since 1992-1993 to have two or more 16-pound-plus entries into the ShareLunker program.
Wesley Pullig of Eden had a funny feeling when he headed for O.H. Ivie that morning. He was scheduled to meet ShareLunker program manager David Campbell to return ShareLunker 477 to the lake. He caught that fish January 21. "I just had a feeling I might catch another one," Pullig said.
He was right. Not long after he put his first ShareLunker back into the lake, he caught his second, a 13.24-pounder that became ShareLunker 504, bringing O.H. Ivie’s number of entries for the season to 11.
Other ShareLunkers returned to O.H. Ivie on April 30 were numbers 495, 499 and 500.
Besides coming from the same lake, Toyota ShareLunkers 503 and 504 have something else in common: They are the only two entries to be caught on the last day of the season.
Pullig joins a very small group of anglers who have caught more than one ShareLunker in the same season. Scott Cupit caught two from Lake Fork in 1990; Bill Lozano caught one from Mill Creek and one from Lake Fork in 1991; Richard Mims caught two from Lake Casa Blanca in 2004; and David Utz caught two from Lake Ratcliff in 2006.
In a class all by himself is Jim Gore, who caught ShareLunkers 33, 34 and 42 from Lake Fork in 1989. One of those fish, No. 34, was the only male ShareLunker. It was accepted to be used as a broodfish because, at 6.5 pounds, it was the biggest male largemouth bass David Campbell had ever seen.
Pullig is believed to be the only angler ever to catch a second ShareLunker on the same day he put another back into the lake.
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. In addition, if a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the year, that person receives a lifetime fishing license.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see http://tamus.pr-optout.com/Url.aspx?513992x840877x-1094313. 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, 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.
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