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Lake Nocona Sends Its First ShareLunker to Athens
Race to 500 heats up as big bass pour into the Lunker Bunker
ATHENS — Add Lake Nocona to the growing list of lakes that have produced their first-ever Toyota ShareLunker during the current season.
Don Wilborn of Sherman caught Toyota ShareLunker 493, a 13.34-pound largemouth bass, from Lake Nocona March 29. Wilborn was fishing in eight feet of water. Lure type was not reported.
The fish was transported to The Tackle Box in Pottsboro, where it was held in a large aquarium until picked up by ShareLunker program manager David Campbell.
"I really believe it is possible to catch a ShareLunker almost anywhere you fish in Texas," Campbell said. "Lake Nocona is now the thirteenth lake to produce a ShareLunker during the current season and the fourth lake to produce its first ShareLunker this season."
Other lakes producing their first 13-pound-plus bass this season are Livingston, Lyndon B. Johnson and Lake O’ the Pines. The ShareLunkers from all three of those lakes were also new lake records; Lake O’ the Pines set two new records in less than a week. New lake records were also set for lakes Casa Blanca and Caddo.
ShareLunker 493 is not a new lake record for Lake Nocona. A 13.4-pound fish caught in 1997 still holds the top spot. That fish was not entered into the ShareLunker program.
"We stocked Florida largemouth bass into Lake Nocona in 1981 and 1982," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologist Bruce Hysmith. "We collected 30 bass in 2007 and found that two of them were still pure Florida largemouth bass. The pure Florida genetics are still in the lake."
The significance of pure Florida genetics is that those fish tend to grow faster and bigger than native northern largemouth bass. Texas began stocking Florida largemouth bass in the 1970s.
Only pure Florida largemouth bass are used in the selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. ShareLunkers from the current season are spawned and the offspring stocked into lakes that entered fish into the ShareLunker program during the season. Most anglers elect to have their ShareLunker returned to the lake after the end of the spawning season.
ShareLunker 493 is the twenty-second fish to be entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program during the current season. Only seven fish remain to be caught to reach the 500 mark. The angler who catches that fish will receive $500 per pound and a rod and reel package from G. Loomis and Shimano. All ShareLunker anglers receive a fiberglass replica of their catch and ShareLunker clothing. If a Texas resident catches the largest entry of the season, he or she receives a lifetime fishing license. The current leader is Keith Burns of Jefferson with a 16.17-pound fish from Caddo Lake. All prizes are furnished by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation.
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 must be turned over to authorized TPWD personnel within 12 hours after being caught. Entries are not official until accepted by TPWD. Entry numbers are assigned in the order phone calls reporting catches are received by David Campbell.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. 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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