Lake Sam Rayburn

Because Life is Better at the Lake

Restructured Version of ShareLunker Program

by

Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at: tomdoglover29@aol.com




The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has announced a restructured version of its Toyota Sharelunker program. The revised program will be more inclusive, allowing anglers who catch largemouth bass weighing 8 pounds or more to post photos on social media.


The 31-year-old hatchery program will continue to use bass weighing 13 pounds or more to produce hatchery broodfish and will now accept entries that are not pure-strain Florida bass. Florida bass that have crossbred with native northern bass are called intergrades. Some of those fish also attain huge size.


During the 2017 season, the biggest of five ShareLunkers was an intergrade. It weighed 15.7 pounds and was caught from Caddo Lake by Ronnie Arnold of Karnack. Going forward, intergrade ShareLunkers will be spawned at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Their offspring will be stocked in lakes where the parent fish was caught. All huge bass are females.


The revamped program will run Jan. 1-Dec. 31. Fish weighing 13 pounds or more, caught Jan. 1-March 31, will be accepted as broodstock for spawning.


Outside the spawning window, the year-round season will allow anglers to submit information about their catch through a web application in four size categories -- 8 to 10 pounds; 10-13 pounds; 13 pounds or more; and 13 pounds or more with the fish donated for spawning.


In recent years, ShareLunker entries began falling off, though it is unclear whether big fish are no longer being caught in the same numbers during the new millennium or anglers are dissatisfied or felt that entering a fish was not worth the trouble.


In 2012, Florida began its own version of ShareLunkers, based loosely on Texas' program. They call it TrophyCatch, and it recognizes documented fish weighing 8 pounds or more that were caught and released and uses social media to promote the anglers and where the fish were caught. Since 2012, TrophyCatch has documented more than 6,700 big bass.
Many good anglers, or anglers with good places to fish, enter multiple bass each season, trying to beat one another for bragging rights. Fishing guides use TrophyCatch to promote their businesses.


Now TPWD is planning to incorporate the best ideas from TrophyCatch to revitalize ShareLunkers. A full list of changes and new prizes will be announced closer to Jan. 1.


Photo: Sam Koebcke of Austin caught this 13.30-pound bass from Choke Canyon April 26. The fish was 26.75 inches long and 20.75 inches in girth.




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