Toyota ShareLunker Selective Breeding Program Connects Bass Anglers across the State
March 9, 2017
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ATHENS – In March 2008, Jeremy Bruton of Blooming Grove caught a 13.05 pound largemouth bass during a fishing tournament on Richland Chambers Reservoir. The big bass propelled Bruton to a second place finish and a $40 payout in the tournament that day, but the fish proved to be of much greater value when its 13.06 pound daughter was caught nine years later and more than 100 miles away Feb. 28 on Lake Naconiche.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced March 9 that genetic testing proved Toyota ShareLunker 567, caught by angler Larry Mosby of Garrison, is the direct offspring of Bruton’s bass, ShareLunker 446. The announcement comes just weeks after the first confirmed ShareLunker daughter, ShareLunker 566, was caught out of Marine Creek Lake.
“I can’t believe it’s been nine years – it seems like yesterday,” Bruton said. “That was the biggest highlight of my life so far. And I think it’s so neat my bass spawned a ShareLunker, that’s why I wanted to [enter] it in the first place.”
An experienced bass angler and high school fishing coach, Mosby said he knew fishing young reservoirs could yield big bass due to ample vegetation, structure and nutrients. And since it was only impounded in 2009, Lake Naconiche met those criteria. But TPWD has also worked to increase the trophy potential of the lake by stocking more than 100,000 ShareLunker offspring and other bass with the genetic potential to reach high weights every year since its impoundment.
When Mosby caught the largemouth bass from Lake Naconiche he said he knew it was a special fish before he even got her in the boat.
“When she came up and rolled to the side I was thinking ‘Man, she might be 14 or 15 pounds’ – I wasn’t sure,” Mosby said. “Once I got her in the live well I was hooting and hollering and probably sounded like a little kid.”
Mosby said he immediately set off to find the nearest certified scale and call the Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator to enter her for spawning.
“I had read about [the Toyota ShareLunker program] and had known about it for years – I felt entering her was the right thing to do,” Mosby said. “I decided to enter her in the program so she can pass on her genes.”
After getting her settled into the “lunker bunker” at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens to prepare for spawning, the staff shipped a fin clip to the A.E. Wood Laboratory in San Marcos to confirm her parentage. A week later, TPWD Inland Fisheries geneticist Dijar Lutz-Carrillo confirmed the fish resulted from the cross of ShareLunker 446 and another hatchery broodstock largemouth bass in 2008, and biologists reached out to tell Mosby and Bruton the big news.
“As soon as I found out I messaged [Mosby] on Facebook and said ‘so you caught my fish’ – and he thought it was pretty cool,” Bruton said. “It’s so ironic…his fish weighed almost exactly the same as mine. His was 13.06 and mine was 13.05 – he beat me by 1/100 of a pound.”
TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Todd Driscoll said that proper fishery management, the ‘new lake effect’, and a 16-inch maximum length limit at the reservoir contributed to ShareLunker 446’s offspring achieving such a hefty weight, and this isn’t the first or last big bass we will see coming from Lake Naconiche.
Although not quite 13 pounds, another ShareLunker daughter was caught out of Lake Naconiche in 2013. That 12.54 pound bass was found to be the offspring of ShareLunker 370, which was submitted from Lake Fork in 2000. After she spawned at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, thousands of her offspring were stocked in Lake Naconiche, too.
“As biologists, we’ve done everything we can to maximize the trophy potential of Lake Naconiche,” Driscoll said. “So we tended to expect something like this, and I expect more of them to be caught as the trophy bass population continues to mature.”
But Mosby has an even bigger idea.
“I personally think the next state record is going to come out of that lake in the next two to four years,” Mosby said. “And I feel like I’m going to catch one that’s even bigger.”
Mosby’s prediction may not be too far off. According to Lutz-Carrillo, selective breeding could allow TPWD stocked ShareLunker bass to reach higher weights faster and achieve the 13 pound mark at a younger age than a regular Florida largemouth bass.
TPWD also plans to use ShareLunker offspring as future Florida largemouth bass brood stock in its fish hatcheries, which would eventually increase the total ShareLunker offspring stocked annually into Texas’ reservoirs from tens of thousands to more than 8 million.
ShareLunker 567 is the second 13 pound or larger Florida largemouth bass submitted to the Toyota ShareLunker program so far this season, but anglers have until March 31 to submit their catch for TPWD to collect as brood stock for spawning. Anglers can enter 13 pounds or heavier bass into the program for certified weight, DNA sample and immediate release through April 30.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by funds provided by Gulf States Toyota and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
For updates on the ShareLunker program and to view photos of ShareLunker 466 and 567, visit https://www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram/.