ATHENS, Texas — Jason Baird hit the jackpot Feb. 28 when he caught Budweiser ShareLunker No. 400, a 13.1-pound largemouth bass worth $5,240 in cash.

Now the huge fish is paying dividends for everyone who fishes Lake Amistad. On April 18 ShareLunker 400 produced 46,678 eggs, the most produced by a ShareLunker in a single spawn in the program’s 20-year history.

The fry from that spawn, along with the big fish herself, will be returned to Lake Amistad in a few weeks.

“This is an outstanding example of why the Budweiser ShareLunker program has been so successful in improving the genetics of largemouth bass in Texas reservoirs,” said Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, home to the program. “In the wild, the fish would have spawned with an unpedigreed male. Here at TFFC, we pair the ShareLunker females with males that are themselves descendants of ShareLunkers on both the male and female sides. We are concentrating the genes that make these big fish special. The ultimate winners in this program are the anglers of Texas, who will be catching these genetically superior fish in the future.”

Forshage also emphasized that returning ShareLunkers to the lakes where they were caught is an important part of the program. “Returning the fish to their home lakes gives other anglers a chance to catch them as well as allowing the fish to continue to spawn in the wild in the future,” he said. “Plus, everything we know about genetics indicates that the offspring of the ShareLunkers have an increased probability of growing to a trophy size. Taking the big fish out of the lake temporarily allows us to improve the quality of fishing in that lake permanently.”

In addition to the usual prizes of a Budweiser ShareLunker jacket and a fiberglass replica of the number 400 fish, Jason Baird will receive a cash award of $400 per pound of fish and a G.Loomis rod with Shimano reel valued at a total of $600. Prizes will be funded by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, Anheuser-Busch and G.Loomis.