TPWD News Release — Feb. 28, 2012
ATHENS—Toledo Bend, the sprawling reservoir on the border between Texas and Louisiana, produced the sixth Toyota ShareLunker of the current season Saturday, a 14.20-pound largemouth bass that is the largest entered so far this season.
Ryan Pinkston of Center was fishing in a Bass ‘n Bucks tournament when he caught the fish about 2:00 p.m. while fishing in about five feet of 60-degree water.
“Fishing was fairly slow at first,” Ryan said. “I had about 20 pounds and knew I had to get my weight up, so I pulled out a Jewel Heavy Cover Football Jig and started throwing it. On about the second or third cast, I hung the big fish. The fish went under the boat and wrapped me up a little bit, and of course I thought that was the end of it.”
Pinkston had no idea how big the fish was until he actually got it in the boat. “I laid it in the floor, and that’s when I knew it was not a normal fish,” he said. “It was huge. I didn’t know if it was 11 or if it was 15.”
Pinkston’s luck continued: On the next cast, he caught an 8.5-pounder. He finished the tournament in first place with 36.06 pounds.
Following the tournament, Pinkston took the fish to Toledo Town and Tackle in Many, Louisiana, where it was weighed on certified scales at 14.20 pounds. It was put into a tank with two other fish to await pickup. The wrong fish, an 11.7-pounder, was accidentally picked up, and the error was not discovered until the fish was weighed at TFFC the next day. By that time the other fish had been released. “This was an unfortunate error, but because the angler legally caught the fish and it was weighed on certified scales, it is a valid entry into the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Allen Forshage, director of TFFC.
Toledo Bend has now produced five ShareLunkers. The last was in 2008. The largest ShareLunker from the lake before Pinkston’s catch was a 14.25-pounder caught by Tanya Sorter in 2006. The current lake record is 15.32 pounds caught by Eric Weems in July 2000.
Pinkston’s catch makes him the frontrunner for Angler of the Year. The person who catches the largest entry of the season will be named Angler of the Year, and if that person is a Texas resident, he or she will receive a lifetime fishing license. The Angler of the Year will also receive a prize package from G. Loomis worth more than $700. The package will include a G.Loomis NRX 854C JWR casting rod, a 7’1”, fast-action, power-oriented casting and pitching stick designed specifically for fishing big bass in heavy cover. It’s rated for 14 to 20-pound test line and lures ranging from 5/16 to ¾ ounces.
Also included will be a Shimano Chronarch 200 E7 casting reel. The new Chronarch E reels feature a long list of proven Shimano features including high efficiency gearing, a lo-mass drilled spool system and super stopper. For smoothness and durability, each has a shielded A-RB ball bearing, five shielded SUS bearings, and a roller clutch. The 200 weighs in at 7.6 oz.; the amount of line retrieved per crank is 30-inches. A 150-yard spool of 30-pound green Power Pro braided line will also be included.
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.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
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.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year’s season, see http://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 when available, 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.
Editors Note: No picture of SL 529 is available.