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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2011-03-17                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
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.
Ho-hum.
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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[ Note: This item is more than three years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ General Media Contact: Business Hours, 512-389-4406 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Robert Mauk, (940) 766-2383, Robert.mauk@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 17, 2011
Lake Wichita Fishery Survey Results Good News for Anglers
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries office in Wichita Falls recently completed a gill net survey of hybrid striped bass and channel catfish populations at Lake Wichita, and the results are very encouraging.
"The results exceeded our expectations," said biologist Robert Mauk. "Our gill nets sampled a total of 14 different species, which is high for this gear type at Lake Wichita. The reservoir suffered a large fish kill caused by golden alga in 2009, but the survey results show the lake is coming back nicely."
The hybrid striped bass catch rate was the second highest ever documented, but almost all the fish were below the 18-inch minimum size limit and need some time to grow before anglers can harvest them. "The hybrid striped bass population depends upon stocking to maintain numbers, since the fish do not reproduce," said Mauk. "TPWD stocked nearly 9,000 hybrids last year, and they are doing well, averaging about 12 inches and exhibiting excellent body condition."
TPWD's last three surveys have not documented any white bass. "This species seems to have disappeared from the reservoir around 2005-06 when the reservoir was low and a previous golden alga fish kill affected the reservoir," Mauk explained.
Channel catfish abundance was about four times higher than the previous best catch rate ever documented at the reservoir. "We sampled channel catfish from nine to 29 inches in length with the largest fish weighing over 14 pounds," Mauk said. "Our catch rate of channel catfish greater than 23 inches exceeded our total catch rates in all previous surveys, so there are a lot of bigger channel catfish to be caught. There are plenty of 11- to 16-inch catfish available too, so the future looks bright."
For someone looking to catch a record-book fish, there's more good news. "Besides channel catfish, we caught just as many black bullhead catfish, which are known locally as mudcats or polliwogs," Mauk said. "We sampled some trophy-sized bullheads. Most water bodies around Wichita Falls have bullhead, but they are typically around six inches. We sampled some from Lake Wichita over 16 inches in length and weighing over three pounds. This offers someone the opportunity to get his or her name in the record book, since there is currently no lake record for this species."
While bullheads are not fished for as commonly as channel catfish, Mauk says anglers should not overlook them. "Bullheads were highly sought after for the table where I grew up in Iowa," he says. "Under the proper conditions, they can be quite tasty. They are easy to catch with night crawlers on the bottom, making them a good species for children to fish for."
The survey collected a few legal-sized largemouth bass. "This species hasn't done well at the reservoir since the elevation was lowered in 1995," Mauk said. "After the golden alga kill in 2009, the lake was restocked, and they now seem to be surviving and growing quite well. We've seen several when working at the lake and hear reports of several being caught by anglers. Like the other species sampled, they are quite fat, indicating there is plenty of food available for them."
Anglers should be aware that the reservoir elevation has dropped and that using the boat ramp is becoming more difficult. If you have any questions, please call the Inland Fisheries office in Wichita Falls at (940) 766-2383 or e-mail Mauk, robert.mauk@tpwd.texas.gov.
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