Toyota Sharelunker Program

Tips for Proper Care and Handling of Lunker Bass

  1. Land the fish as quickly as possible. Playing a fish to exhaustion diminishes its chance of survival.
  2. If possible, refrain from using a dip net that has a mesh larger than ¼ inch and /or is not a smooth mesh. When using a net, always make sure it is wet before it touches the fish.
  3. Avoid excessive handling or dropping of the fish while removing the hook. The fish will benefit from remaining in water (boat livewell or a large cooler filled with water) while the hook is removed with needlenosed pliers. Hold the fish vertically by the lower lip while it is in the water so that the total weight of the fish doesn’t rest on the lower jaw.
  4. Take the fish to a marina or closest certified scales as soon as possible. Transport the fish in a properly aerated livewell or a large cooler equipped with an aerator.
  5. Before removing the fish from the transport container, have the certified scales ready for weighing. Try to arrange to hold the fish in the marina’s minnow vat after it is weighed.
  6. To reduce stress when removing the fish from the transport container for weighing, move the fish as close as possible to the scales and holding vat before removal. If everything is ready before the fish is removed from the transport container, weighing time can be less than one minute.
  7. It is best to sedate the fish in the transport container before weighing or taking pictures. Marinas and bait shops can supply the recommended chemicals. Wet your hands before handling the fish. Lift the fish from the water vertically by clamping your thumb on the bottom lip. To raise the fish into a horizontal position, support the fish’s weight by placing your off-hand under the fish just behind the anal fin. This method should also be used if the fish is not sedated. Don’t roll back the lip in an effort to paralyze the fish. This can damage the lower jaw and hinder or prevent the fish from feeding after being released. The fish should not be out of the water longer than 30 seconds. Persons taking pictures should have their cameras ready before the fish is removed from the holding container. Holding the fish out of the water two to three minutes, or holding it in a plastic bag without proper aeration, causes stress that can damage the eyes or cause a bacterial and/or fungal infection. Such damage could cause mortality even several weeks later. Note that stress is increased by extremes in temperatures and/or windy weather conditions.
  8. Ideal water temperature for holding fish is 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water temperature should not be changed more than five or six degrees per hour. If water is aerated and treated with bacterial/fungal retardant, low water temperature may not be crucial.
  9. Call Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as soon as possible with your name, where the fish is located, a telephone number where you can be reached and when and where you caught the fish. Be sure to include your area code when leaving a message on the pager. Every attempt will be made to collect the fish within 12 hours, sooner if possible.
  10. To request pickup of a ShareLunker (largemouth bass 13 pounds or over, legally caught in Texas waters between October 1 and April 30), call (903) 681-0550 or page 1 (888) 784-0600 and leave a number, including area code.
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