There may be no state in the country that manages its bass fisheries more aggressively than Texas. Since 1986, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Toyota ShareLunker Program has invited anglers to receive recognition and prizes for their catches heavier than 8 pounds.
Largemouths heavier than 13 pounds fall into the Lunker Legacy Class. The TPWD asks anglers to “loan” their Lunker Legacy bass to the department during the January through March spawning period. These bass are used in a selective breeding program that pumps the genetics for huge Florida-strain bass back into Texas waters.
On March 25, Pablo Torres Jr., of Lufkin, Texas, caught a 13.34-pound bass from Kurth Reservoir in southeast Texas. Although Torres said he has seen and heard of bigger fish being caught from the lake, his fish became the first ShareLunker bass from Kurth in the program’s 32-year history.
Torres decided to loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning to contribute to the number of Florida largemouth bass being stocked in his area.
“Kurth is a fantastic lake with a lot of lunkers in it,” Torres said. “[TPWD] stocks a lot of the ‘Floridas’ in Sam Rayburn Reservoir and other surrounding lakes, so this is a good way for me to help contribute to the area. And this fish will be released back to Kurth when they are done with it.”
TPWD’s Todd Driscoll said he was not surprised to hear the east lake produced a Toyota Sharelunker entry.
“This lake has everything it needs to produce big fish—including ample amounts of aquatic vegetation like hydrilla, which covers 30-40 percent of the reservoir,” Driscoll said. “That produces really strong year classes of fish. In addition to a 16-inch maximum limit, we have also been stocking it for years with frequent stockings of pure Florida largemouth bass to increase trophy potential of lake.”
Torres’ fish, “ShareLunker 575,” was the fifth Legacy Class entry of the season. It was taken to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas, where hatchery staff have monitored and cared for her through spawning. Also in the “Lunker Bunker” are the four other Legacy Class entries of the season, which weighed 13.4, 13.06, 13 and 15.48 pounds. The big 15-pounder was caught by John LaBove from Lake Fork on March 2.
Every angler who loans a 13-pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period receives a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program, follow it on Facebook.