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Rains Bode Well for Budweiser ShareLunker Program
ATHENS, Texas — Just as April showers bring May flowers, summer rains may produce lots of big bass, come winter.
The 19th Budweiser ShareLunker season begins Oct. 1 and continues through April 30, and program coordinator David Campbell anticipates a good year. "Many lakes caught a lot of water this summer, and that produces more habitat for fish to spawn. Plus, when the lakes remain full for a longer period of time, the spawning areas are more accessible to anglers, and they catch more big fish," Campbell said.
Anglers who catch largemouth bass 13 pounds or more from October through April are encouraged to enter the fish into the ShareLunker program. Offspring of the lunkers are stocked into public waters in Texas in an effort to improve the quality of fishing in the state. Anglers receive a replica of their fish by Lake Fork Taxidermy and other prizes and may donate the fish to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department or have it returned to them after spawning.
Anglers wishing to enter a big bass in the program may call Campbell at (903) 681-0550 any time, day or night, to arrange to have a fish picked up. Or they may page him at (888) 784-0600 and leave a phone number including area code. TPWD personnel will attempt to retrieve the fish within 12 hours. Information about caring for fish before the TPWD pickup can be found on the ShareLunker Web site (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/sharelunker.htm). Most marinas also have this information.
No football commentator would go into the broadcast booth without being armed with reams of mind-boggling trivia. Use the following information to impress your fishing friends with your knowledge of the ShareLunker program.
- Total number of entries in the program: 364
- Number of public waters contributing fish: 52
- Number of private waters contributing fish: 13
- Year with most entries: 1995 (36)
- Year with fewest entries: 2001 (5)
- Most common first name of angler contributing fish: David (12, followed by 10 Randys, 11 Jims, nine Johns, nine Richards)
- Most common last name of angler contributing fish: Gore and Jones (five each, followed by Taylor, four)
- First woman to contribute a fish to the program: Bernice Rhodes, in 1988.
- Number of entries weighing more than 14 pounds: 124. More than 15 pounds, 20. More than 16 pounds, 11. More than 17 pounds, four. More than 18 pounds, one, Barry St. Clair’s state record from 1992.
- Number of fish weighing less than 13 pounds: six. One of these fish was donated to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for display. Some were accepted based on weighing 13 pounds on uncertified scales and were later found to weigh less.
- Smallest fish accepted into the program: 6.5 pounds. This was also the only male accepted into the program. "It was the biggest male largemouth I’ve ever seen," said David Campbell, "and we used it for spawning."
- Day of week most fish caught: Saturday (74)
- Day of week fewest fish caught: Tuesday (36)
- Number of fish entered into the program anonymously: one
- Length of longest fish entered: 28.5 inches
- Number of fish whose girth exceeded its length: One, and it was caught by Bob Zerr from a private lake in 1987. The 13.1-pound fish was 23.25 inches long and 23.75 inches around-a real "football."
- Youngest fish entered into the program: 6-7 years. This was caught by Troy Johnson caught Jan. 15, 1998 from Gibbons Creek. Male descendants of this fish are still used in TPWD’s Operation World Record breeding program.
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