Toyota's ShareLunker Program saw five bass over 15 pounds in 2021.
Texas' largely successful ShareLunker bass fishing recognition and selective breeding program saw an incredibly successful 2021 campaign right up until the final weekend of the event.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced on their website that one of the last days of the season saw a new lake record, and the program's fifth bass over the 15-pound mark for 2021.
One lake, O.H. Ivie, produced two last-day lunkers, making for a total of 12 for an unbelievable spring fishing season.
The TPWD says Brownwood resident Jeff Windham kicked things off with a 13.65-pound beast from O.H. Ivie on the last day. He caught the monster on a Strike King Rage Bug. The big bass had been hanging out in six to eight feet of water off a submerged tree.
That same day, a little later, Brownwood resident Greg Denison brought in a 13.21-pounder. His fish struck a 4.5-inch shad colored swimbait. Denison told the TPWD he sight-fished the lunker off a bed. He had to try a variety of different lures before the stubborn fish finally struck.
Biologists with the ShareLunker program elected to record scientific and genetic information and then set the fish free since O.H. Ivie has already produced 10 other fish for the breeding program this year. It is the second time the body of water has produced this many entries. It also had 12 in 2010.
The last days of the program for 2021 were also marked with a 13.08-pound beast from Eagle Mountain Lake. The big fish was captured by Donald Moore, who used a Zoom Speed Craw to pull the giant off a shallow bed in two feet of water.
The TPWD also highlighted the Legacy Class catch of a 15.27-pounder by McKinney resident Tanner Spurgin. It was the fifth fish to crack the 15-pound mark this season. Spurgin caught the fish on March 28 during a Bass Champs Inc Mega tournament on Lake Fork. As you might expect, he won the tournament, bringing in a cool $15,000 and a new boat in the deal. The fish was donated to the ShareLunker program after the tournament.
In all, the TPWD received 23 donations to the selective breeding program in 2021. Five of them being new lake records. A fish must weigh 13 pounds or over to be eligible to loaned out. A fish of 13+ pounds is considered Legend or Legacy Class and the lucky anglers get a free replica of their catch and the chance to be entered into a drawing for a shopping spree. Anglers who enter fish at the lower levels of eight pounds or more are also eligible to be entered into a $5,000 shopping spree.
The TPWD meanwhile, gets to release broodstock from selectively bred bass back into Texas waters carrying superior genetics for growing to larger sizes. The program has proven extremely popular and many ShareLunker bass caught today are often tested and found to have genetics tied to ShareLunkers of the past.
ShareLunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear praised the partnership between anglers and the state agency for making bass fishing in the Lone Star State better.
"The 2021 collection season has been phenomenal," Brookshear said in a press release. "Not only has the overall size of these lunkers been above average, but the number of them being collected has made this the best spring collection season since 1995!"
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