ATHENS—The 2010-2011 Toyota ShareLunker season start is only six weeks away—hard to believe in this August heat—but the big bass are already biting on Lake Fork.
Fishing in 20 feet of water off a main lake point, Cameron Burnett boated a 14.44-pound largemouth July 31. “It was about 8:45 p.m., just before dark,” Burnett said. “On the third cast into the spot—BOOM!”
Burnett was using a Huddleston Deluxe eight-inch swimbait. The fish, 26.75 inches long, now swims in an aquarium at Lake Fork Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Station. Burnett plans to release the fish back into Lake Fork at a future date.
Toyota ShareLunker program manager David Campbell scanned the fish to see if it carried an electronic tag identifying it as a previous entry into the ShareLunker program. It did not.
However, had the fish been caught during the spawning season, Campbell said, it would probably have weighed about 15.5 pounds. That would have easily placed the fish on the list of 50 biggest bass ever caught in Texas. Lake Fork produced one such fish last season, a 15.61-pounder caught by James Quisenberry on March 22.
The Toyota ShareLunker program accepts entries into the program from October 1 until April 30. Fish must weigh at least 13 pounds and be legally caught in Texas waters, public or private, to qualify. They must be turned over to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in survivable condition within 12 hours of capture. The fish are used in a selective breeding program before being returned to the angler. To submit an entry, call program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a phone number including area code.
Last season saw 33 entries into the program, which tied for the second-highest number ever. The upcoming season will mark the 25th anniversary of the program.
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://archive.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker/. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
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.