TPWD News Release — Feb. 2, 2009
ATHENS, Texas-Ricky Bearden of Conroe set a new water body record for largemouth bass January 30 when he pulled a 15.93-pound fish from two feet of water in Lake Conroe.
The big bass now holds the number 24 spot on the list of the top 50 largemouth bass ever caught in Texas.
Bearden was fishing with a plastic worm in 54-degree water when the big bass took the bait about 12:15 p.m. Friday. The fish was 27 inches long and 22 inches in girth.
"It’s one of the healthiest-looking fish entered into the ShareLunker program in some time," said ShareLunker program manager David Campbell.
The fish is the second ShareLunker to come from Lake Conroe during the current season. On December 13 Kyle Nitschke used a crankbait to land a 13.07-pound fish that is the junior angler state record largemouth bass.
"What’s driving this is the continued stocking of Lake Conroe with Florida largemouth bass," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologist Mark Webb, who manages the fishery. "In addition to the bass that TPWD stocks, the Lake Conroe Restocking Association purchases fish from Tyler Fish Farms and stocks them into the lake after they have been tested and certified to be Florida bass."
Since 2000 more than 1.7 million Florida largemouth bass fingerlings have been stocked into the lake.
Lake Conroe has also been the object of intensive vegetation management by TPWD and the San Jacinto River Authority, resulting in the removal of most of the hydrilla in the lake. Native vegetation is being established in its place. "Anglers are figuring out how to fish the lake in the absence of hydrilla," said TPWD fisheries technician Mike Gore. "They’re throwing more crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic worms. The fish are out there. You just have to know how to catch them."
Lake Conroe has now produced 14 ShareLunkers. Only Lake Fork, Lake Alan Henry and Sam Rayburn Reservoir have produced more 13-pound-plus fish.
Anyone legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more from Texas waters, public or private, can enter the fish into the ShareLunker program. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel and taken to the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where they are used in a selective breeding program that aims to increase the size and number of big bass in Texas. To have a fish picked up, call David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a number, including area code. Anglers receive a fiberglass replica of their catch and ShareLunker clothing.