Toyota ShareLunker 500 to Get Close Look by TPWD

Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277,

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ATHENS — Whoever catches Toyota ShareLunker 500 will have to answer a few more questions than usual for someone entering a 13-pound-plus bass into the popular Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) program.

"Because the angler who legally catches and enters ShareLunker 500 into the program will receive $500 a pound from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation, we will X-ray the fish and require the person to take a polygraph test to confirm that the fish meets all the qualifications," said Allen Forshage. Forshage is director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, where the ShareLunker program is headquartered.

The ShareLunker program rules require that an angler turn a ShareLunker entry in to TPWD within 12 hours after the fish is caught. "This is to give the fish the best chance of surviving the stress of being caught," said Forshage. "The sooner we get the fish under the care of the trained biologists here at TFFC the better chance it will have of spawning and being returned to the lake alive. The welfare of the fish always comes first in the ShareLunker program."

ShareLunker program manager David Campbell will personally pick up ShareLunker 500 and perform the first inspection to be sure the fish is capable of surviving. The fish will not officially become ShareLunker 500 until the X-rays and polygraph test confirms the fish was legally caught and entered.

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.

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.