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March 17, 2011
Toyota ShareLunker 520 Comes from ... Wait for It ... Falcon!
ATHENS—Six weeks ago it looked like no lake in Texas could catch O.H. Ivie in the Toyota ShareLunker race. By January 30 O.H. Ivie had produced four ShareLunkers, and anglers could follow the smoke to the lake.
On January 31, Falcon International Reservoir produced its first ShareLunker of the season.
But since then the big bass lake on the Rio Grande has kicked out five more Toyota ShareLunkers to O.H. Ivie’s two .
That puts the two reservoirs neck and neck at six Toyota ShareLunkers each with another six weeks to go in the season, which ends April 30.
Toyota ShareLunker 520 was caught by Todd Elrod of Fritch, Texas, about 1:00 p.m. March 15. It weighed 13.18 pounds and was 25.5 inches long and 20 inches in girth. Elrod caught the fish on an Arkie jig in 20 feet of 66 degree water. It was held for pickup at Robert’s Fish ‘n Tackle, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station in Zapata.
Genetic testing at the A.E. Wood Fish Hatchery in San Marcos showed Toyota ShareLunker 519 to be pure Florida largemouth, so that fish will become part of the selective breeding program at ShareLunker headquarters at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
As of March 15, Lake Austin had sent three ShareLunkers to Athens and Lake Fork was in with one, making a total of 16 (so far) this season. Production of 13-pound-plus fish appears to be likely to exceed the long-term average of 21 per season.
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 program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or paging him at (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.
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 valued at $818. The package includes a G. Loomis NRX854C jig and worm rod, a Shimano ChronarchD1007 casting reel and 150 yards of moss green Power Pro super-braid fishing line. 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.
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