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Is There a Lunker Lurking in Your Attic?
ATHENS, Texas — The first photograph was taken 170 years ago, so you’d think that everyone who ever caught a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more would have been photographed proudly holding it.
That may in fact be the case, but the database for the Toyota ShareLunker program run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) has few photographs of lunkers caught before 1999. It wasn’t until about that time that TPWD employees started carrying a camera with them to photograph anglers and their fish.
Toyota ShareLunker program manager David Campbell is looking for photographs of fish which TPWD presently does not have on the ShareLunker web site, www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker.
One such photograph recently arrived unsolicited from Robyn Tassio of Frisco.
"One cold March day in 1996, my wife and I decided to go bass fishing from the bank at Lake Fork," Tassio recalled. "I made a long cast over a weed bed and after about the third crank of the reel, I felt the fish nail my lure. It wasn’t until she jumped, only her head clearing the water line, that I realized I had hooked a huge fish. When I finally landed this ShareLunker, I would have sworn that her weight was over 15 pounds. She was HUGE! It turned out she was a solid 13.11 lbs with a belly that looked like she had just swallowed a giant grapefruit."
Like many anglers before and since, Tassio’s life was changed by catching the huge fish. "When I caught my ShareLunker, I was participating in the Bassin’ magazine Big Bass World Championship Tournament," he explained. "This catch secured my position as the state of Texas champion, which qualified me to compete against the other 49 state champions at Grand Lake in Oklahoma in the fall of 1996. I ended up placing 7th overall in the Champions Tournament and enjoyed sharing my story of the 13-pound bass that didn’t get away!"
Tassio received a fiberglass replica of his catch as a reward for loaning the fish to TPWD for spawning, and he still gets a lot of pleasure out of it. "I’ve been fortunate to have fished in other countries such as Brazil for giant peacock bass and South Africa for tiger fish, but I always enjoy telling fellow anglers about that huge bass I caught in my favorite lake in the world," he said. "When my wife brags about catching several 10-pound-plus bass from Lake Fork over the years as well as having a state record bowfin, I just smile and point to my ShareLunker replica that hangs on the wall."
"We’d like to have as many photographs of anglers and their fish as possible to complete the historical record," Campbell said. "The current season is number 24, and we’d like to have photographs of all the fish by the time we begin our silver anniversary season in 2010."
Campbell also requests that anglers send a short description of how they caught the fish and what catching it has meant to them over the years.
So all you anglers out there who have photographs of yourself holding a monster ShareLunker-and there could be nearly 200 of you-send a copy of a print (which will not be returned) to Campbell at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, 5550 F.M. 2495, Athens, TX 75752. Digital files of photos can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include information identifying yourself and a mailing address, phone number and/or e-mail address that can be used to verify the information sent.
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