Budweiser Sharelunker Season 22 Begins Oct. 1

Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov

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ATHENS, Texas—Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will begin accepting entries into the Budweiser ShareLunker program October 1, 2007.

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 Budweiser 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.

The fish are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Offspring from these fish are then stocked, in a limited manner, back into the water body from which the ShareLunker was caught in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas’ public waters.

As part of this project, TPWD’s A. E. Wood Laboratory recently identified and described more than fifty genetic markers that will help TPWD biologists identify ShareLunker offspring and their parents following stocking. A. E. Wood geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo said the new technology will be instrumental in evaluating the success of the ShareLunker program.

For the last two years, ShareLunker offspring have been raised to 6 inches at TFFC prior to stocking as part of a research study to compare their growth to the growth of wild largemouth bass in six public reservoirs. “So far, ShareLunker offspring have been bigger than wild fish of the same age in all of our study lakes,” said Timothy Bister, TPWD fisheries biologist. “Even though we’re waiting to see how big these fish are when they’re four years old, results so far have been promising.” Bister added, “This research project would not be possible without angler participation in the ShareLunker program.”

Program manager David Campbell is looking forward to a good year for the program. “For the first time in many years, most lakes in Texas are full,” he noted. “The 18 entries last year was below average, and our records show that years with a low number of entries are usually followed by a year with a better-than-average number.”

Anglers entering fish into the 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 following the close of the season. In addition the Texas angler who catches the largest entry of the year receives a lifetime fishing license.

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’s Budweiser ShareLunker Web site. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available. The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.

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