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Jacksonville Angler Lands Toyota ShareLunker 485
ATHENS — Michael Banks of Jacksonville had a day off and decided to go fishing March 9. "I was just looking for a day out," he said. "It would have been a great day if I had not caught a fish."
Fishing from his kayak, he only got one bite, but it turned out to be a 13.6-pound largemouth bass that is the fourth ShareLunker from the lake and is only a few hundredths of a pound under the lake record. The lake record, caught in 1995, weighed 13.73 pounds.
"When it hit, it was just like it was dead weight, but I knew it was a fish, because it was moving," Banks said.
The bass came from about 12 feet of water in a cove. Banks then had to paddle nearly half an hour into the wind to get the fish to the state park weigh station.
"I’ve never caught a fish that big," he said. "It was just one of those days-lucky fisherman."
Banks, who is co-chairperson of the Friends of the Neches River, describes himself as an outdoorsman and a conservationist. "I’m a conservationist, but I also love to hunt and fish," he said.
By entering his catch into the Toyota ShareLunker program, which aims to increase the size and number of trophy fish caught in Texas through selective breeding, Banks had the opportunity to do both at the same time.
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.
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. In addition, if a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the year, that person receives a lifetime fishing license.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see http://tamus.pr-optout.com/Url.aspx?513992x753252x30272. 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, 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.
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