ATHENS—Faron McCain of Sweetwater went fishing at O.H. Ivie Reservoir April 14 intending to catch a big largemouth bass on her spawning bed, and he did just that.
What he did not expect was to catch the same fish that was last year’s new lake record, when it was caught by Jerry Bales of Hico and became Toyota ShareLunker 503.
When Bales caught the fish last April 30, she weighed 16.08 pounds. When McCain put her on the certified scale at Concho Park Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station, she weighed in at 14.94 pounds.
“I didn’t know she even weighed 13 pounds and would qualify for the Toyota ShareLunker program, but she was a big fish, and I put her in the livewell and immediately took her to be weighed,” McCain said.
Each fish entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program is fitted with an electronic tag that can be read with a scanner, and most fish are returned to the lake after the spawning season. This season two fish have been recaught that were entered into the program last season. The other was from Caddo Lake.
Oddly, both fish are also the current lake record at their heavier weight.
McCain was fishing in 6 to 7 feet of water using an undisclosed lure. The fish was 22.25 inches in girth in 27.5 inches long. When caught last season those measurements were 23.125 inches and 26.5 inches, respectively. Girth measurements can change significantly depending on the stage of egg development.
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.