Toyota ShareLunker season ends with mixed results

The Toyota ShareLunker program received a below-average number of entries during the season just ended, but the number of lakes producing 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass continued to increase. Twelve entries were received from eight lakes. Two of those lakes, Dunlap and Palestine, produced their first ShareLunkers ever. The Lake Palestine fish, a 13.13-pounder caught by Lindell Booth, Jr., of Chandler, is a new lake record. Two program entries were caught by out-of-state anglers, both from Louisiana. Eleven of the 12 fish were returned alive to the lakes from which they were caught. One, Toyota ShareLunker 545, the new Lake Palestine record, was donated to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) for display. Lake Fork rebounded from low production the past few seasons to produce four entries, the most of any lake. Lake Austin produced two entries, and Lakes Dunlap, Falcon, Toledo Bend, Palestine, Amon G. Carter and Lake O' the Pines produced one each. Lake Fork also produced the big bass of the season, a 16.04-pounder caught by Richard Scibek of Granbury on February 2, 2013. Scibek's catch earn him Angler of the Year honors. In addition to a lifetime fishing license, he will receive a prize package from G. Loomis consisting of a G. Loomis GLX854C jig and worm rod, a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 casting reel and a spool of Power Pro super-braid fishing line. An analysis of ShareLunker entries since the inception of the program in 1986 shows there has been a slight decline in the number of entries per season, from an average of 19.6 the first five seasons to 18.8 the past five. There has also been a slight decline in average weight from 14.1 pounds the first five seasons to 13.8 pounds the last five. Driving these declines were the fish from Lake Fork. It has contributed 253 of the 548 ShareLunker entries, and its decline from extraordinary to merely great has obscured the patterns observed among other reservoirs. "There's nothing wrong with Lake Fork, it's just getting older, and largemouth bass productivity typically declines as reservoirs age," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo. "All reservoirs go through this process. What is amazing about Lake Fork is that is has continued to produce big fish for such a long time." Lake Fork's four entries during the season just past weighed 14.06, 13.11, 16.04 and 15.02 pounds for an average weight of 14.55 pounds, well above the ShareLunker program historical average of 13.8 pounds. "If we take Lake Fork out of the analysis, a different picture of trophy largemouth bass in Texas emerges," Lutz-Carrillo said. "The average number of ShareLunker entries has actually increased from 6.2 the first five seasons to 16 over the last five seasons, and the average weight of these fish has been remarkably consistent, 13.9 pounds over the first five seasons and 13.8 over the last five. And if we look at the largest three fish caught each season, it's actually increased from an average of 14.4 pounds the first five seasons to 14.9 pounds during the last five. And all along these fish have been getting longer, whether we include Lake Fork entries in the analysis or not, from 25.2 inches the first five seasons to 26 inches over the last five." Images Donald Deville of Ville Platte, Louisiana, caught Toyota ShareLunker 547 from Lake Fork March 20. The fish was 25.75 inches long, 22 inches in girth, and weighed 14.06 pounds. Lindell Booth, Jr., of Chandler caught Toyota ShareLunker 545 from Lake Palestine March 2. The fish weighed 13.14 pounds and was 26.25 inches long and 21.25 inches in girth. It is the new lake record.

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Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 19)

GOOD. Water stained; 55-58 degrees; 3.33 feet low. Fishing remains the same as we head into another cold front. Bass are good on Carolina rigs and crankbaits in the points, ditches and drains. Crappie are good on live minnows, then jigs after the live bite subsides. You will find them in creeks and river channels. Catfish are good in shallow to 15 feet of water, moving towards the creeks. Report by Lynn Atkinson, Reel Um N Guide Service.

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