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Lake Fork Rumbles: Toyota ShareLunker 494
ATHENS — Lake Fork is the sleeping volcano of bass fishing: You know that sooner or later it is going to erupt, but it teases you with rumbles and rumors. Then one day it lives up to its promise and blows up. Wednesday, March 31, was one of those days.
Jason Barnes of Yantis was fishing in two feet of water with a homemade jig when the big bass he’d been targeting for two days finally bit. The fish weighed 13.23 pounds when Barnes took it to The Minnow Bucket to await the arrival of ShareLunker program manager David Campbell to confirm the fish as Toyota ShareLunker 494.
Barnes actually caught the fish twice-almost-on two successive days. "The first day she bent my hook straight," he said. "I went back the next day with a heavy rod, braided line and a heavier hook. I wasn’t going to lose her twice. I sat on her for about two hours before she finally bit. She just inhaled it."
Barnes was still feeling aftershocks when Campbell arrived a few hours later. "It was the best feeling ever," he said. "I thought I was having a heart attack."
While Barnes has the dream of manufacturing his own line of tackle someday, in the meantime he won’t have to. His catch qualifies him for a $500 cash prize from the Lake Fork Area Chamber of Commerce and a tackle package worth $500 from Lake Fork Marina.
ShareLunker 494 is the twenty-third fish to be entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program during the current season. Only six 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.
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 tpwd.texas.gov/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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