|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2004-05-10                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
May 10, 2004
Budweiser Sharelunker Program Draws 15 Entries
ATHENS, Texas -- The Budweiser ShareLunker season ended April 30 with a total of 15 largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more entered into the program.
One fish was a repeat catch and was entered into the program for the second time. And another angler likely released his chance to become the first to submit four fish to the program in the same year.
Work continues with the fish at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center here. "We have not spawned the lunkers yet but we are trying," said program manager David Campbell.
Details about the fish entered into the program this year follow, in chronological order.
Jan. 14. Frank Hardy of Mineola was after a few crappie for the dinner table when he went fishing on Lake Fork. What he caught in addition to a half-dozen slabs was the first entry in the 2004 Budweiser ShareLunker program: a 13.32-pound largemouth bass.
Ironically, Hardy almost threw the fish back because he thought it was too small. "I didn't think it was long enough to weigh 13 pounds," he said. However, the 24-inch-long fish was what anglers call a "football," with a girth-22 1/8 inches-almost equal to its length.
Jan. 29. Richard Mims of Laredo landed the second Budweiser ShareLunker of the 2004 season, a 13.08-pound largemouth bass pulled from Lake Casa Blanca. Mims' fish easily surpassed the current lake record of 9.38 pounds, which was caught in 1989. The big fish was 25 inches long and measured 21.5 inches in girth.
Jan. 31. Richard Mims boasted his second Budweiser ShareLunker from Lake Casa Blanca in three days. Mims became the first person in the history of the ShareLunker program to land two fish bigger than 13 pounds so close together. His new lake record fish weighed 14.64 pounds and measured 26 inches long and 22 inches in girth.
Feb. 19. Jason Reyes of Humble landed a 15.1-pound largemouth bass while fishing in Quantum Lake, a private lake north of Houston. The fish was 25.75 inches long with a girth of 22.25 inches.
Feb. 20. Leroy Crawley, Sr., of Forsyth, Missouri, caught ShareLunker number five from Lake Fork. The 13.11-pound fish measured 24.25 inches long and 22.75 inches in girth.
Feb. 21. Alvin Helms of Wills Point landed a 13.02-pound lunker from Lake Fork. The fish was 24.5 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth.
March 2. Ross Allcorn of Burleson became the latest angler to prove that March is big bass month on Lake Fork when he caught Budweiser ShareLunker seven. Allcorn was fishing on the edge of a creek channel in eight feet of water with a 3/8-oz. black/blue Realistic jig when a 13.41-bass measuring 25.75 inches long and 20.75 inches around took the bait.
March 16. Budweiser ShareLunkers number eight and nine were caught the same day. Jeff Bassinger of Alvarado caught number eight from Lake Fork. Toby McDonald of Porter landed number nine from Lake Conroe.
Bassinger's Lake Fork lunker weighed 13.125 pounds and was 25.5 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth. It was the fifth entry from Lake Fork this season. McDonald's 13.2-pound Lake Conroe fish was 24.75 inches long and 21 inches around.
March 22. Tony Hill of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, tied last year's tally of 10 ShareLunkers when he landed a 13.08-pound largemouth bass on Lake Fork. The lunker measures 25 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth.
March 29. A 13.63-pound Toledo Bend largemouth bass caught by John Martin of Buna, became Budweiser ShareLunker eleven. The fish is the second ShareLunker to come from the reservoir on the Texas-Louisiana border. It measured 24 inches long and 21.25 inches in girth.
April 2. Bruce Butler of Canyon brought in ShareLunker 12 from Lake Alan Henry near Lubbock. It was 25 inches long and 22 inches in girth and weighed 14.8 pounds. Butler caught the fish in three feet of water on a jig. This was the fourth ShareLunker to come from Lake Alan Henry and the first since 2002.
April 3. Lake Fork contributed 13, a 13.19-pound fish caught by Jeffrey Erpelding of Plainview. It was 25.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth. The fish hit a Wiggle Wort in three to four feet of water in Little Caney Creek. More than 200 Budweiser ShareLunkers have come from Lake Fork.
April 8. Lake Fork produced ShareLunker 14, but the fish wasn't caught from the lake. On Nov. 23, 2002 Roy Greer of Alba caught a 14.17-pound fish from Lake Fork and entered it into the Budweiser ShareLunker program. The fish was injected with a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag when it arrived at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Greer later released the fish into a private lake in Wood County.
On April 8 Greer caught a 13.43-pound lunker from the private lake and entered it into the ShareLunker program. When the fish was scanned, the PIT tag identified it as the fish Greer had originally caught in 2002.
April 13. T. J. Taylor of Lubbock caught Budweiser ShareLunker 15 from Lake Alan Henry. His personal scale showed the 13.85-pound bass to weigh 13.3 pounds.
That got Taylor thinking. "I've released three fish this year that my scales showed weighed 12.9 pounds," he said. "Since Jan. 1, I've caught 22 fish over 10 pounds."
If those three 12.9-pound fish did weigh more than 13 pounds, Taylor failed to set the hook on the chance to be the first person to catch four ShareLunkers in the same year.
Anglers who caught ShareLunkers will be invited to attend an invitation-only banquet in their honor at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center on May 29. Each will receive ShareLunker clothing and a fiberglass replica of their fish prepared by Lake Fork Taxidermy.
Jason Reyes of Humble will receive Angler of the Year honors and a lifetime fishing license for catching the largest fish entered into the program by a Texas resident.
Information on the ShareLunker program, including pictures of anglers with their fish, can be found at (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/hatchery/tffc/sharelunker.htm).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
May 10, 2004
Falcon Lake Benefits From Flooding in Mexico, Rains in South Texas
AUSTIN, Texas -- The floodwaters that devastated Piedras Negras, Mexico, April 4-5 had quite the opposite effect on the International Falcon Reservoir downstream.
"In June 2003, the lake was 45 feet low," said TPWD district fisheries biologist Jimmy Dean of San Antonio. "As of May 4 we are only 15 feet down. We now have over 59,000 surface acres of water, and all boat ramps on the lake are open."
Fishing suffered from the low lake levels, but while water levels were down, a tremendous amount of vegetation grew on the exposed lake bottom, Dean said. "Now that vegetation is covered with water, and it provides cover for spawning and protection for small fish. We were able to stock fish last year under good conditions, and this year we are stocking Florida largemouth bass fingerlings, adult white bass and subadult crappie to go along with natural reproduction. Largemouth bass grow fast down here, and with the bass already in the lake, we will have great fishing in Falcon for several years to come."
Even though the Rio Grande is heavily used for irrigation, Dean does not expect Falcon to be drawn down any time soon. "Rains have been falling up and down the Rio Grande Valley, and farmers are not having to irrigate much. Plus, continued rains in Mexico have them releasing water into rivers that come into the Rio Grande below Falcon. So demand for Falcon water for irrigation is low right now. The rising water level and flooded terrestrial vegetation have produced a tremendous forage base of threadfin and gizzard shad, and that will help fish grow fast. Falcon is on its way back after 10 years of drought and low water levels," Dean said.
For more information, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/fish/infish/lakes/falcon/lake_id.htm).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
May 10, 2004
Gulf Shrimp Season To Close May 15
AUSTIN, Texas--The Gulf of Mexico commercial shrimp season for both state and federal waters will close 30 minutes after sunset on May 15 until an unspecified time in July.
The closing date is based on samples collected by the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department using trawl, bag seine and other information gathered from the shrimping industry. Data regarding TPWD brown shrimp bag seine catch rates, mean lengths of shrimp in April 2004, percent of samples containing shrimp, and periods of maximum nocturnal ebb tidal flow indicate a May 15 closing date is appropriate. Typically, once the shrimp reach about 3 1/2 inches long, they begin their migration back to the Gulf of Mexico.
"The closure is designed to allow these small shrimp to grow to a larger, more valuable size before they are vulnerable to harvest," said Larry McKinney, Ph.D., and TPWD coastal fisheries division director. "The goal is to achieve optimum benefits for the shrimping industry while providing proper management to protect the shrimp." The Texas closure applies to Gulf waters from the coast out to nine nautical miles. The National Marine Fisheries Service has announced federal waters out to 200 nautical miles also will be closed to conform to the Texas closure.
While the statutory opening date for the Gulf season is July 15, the Coastal Fisheries Division will be sampling shrimp populations to determine the optimum opening date for both the shrimp and the shrimpers. No announcement will be made concerning the re-opening until June data are collected.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
May 10, 2004
Kids To Ride Free This Summer at Texas State Railroad
RUSK, Texas -- Parents looking to offset higher gasoline prices expected at the pump during summer vacation months and rising entertainment costs should consider taking their youngsters to ride the Texas State Railroad through the Piney Woods.
The historic East Texas steam railroad, which Texas lawmakers last year designated the Official Railroad of Texas, is launching a "Kids Ride Free" summer promotion Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. From May 29 through Sept. 5, paying adults will be able to treat children 12 years old and younger (as many as five kids per adult) to a free ride on the 123-year-old railroad operated as a state park by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Passengers board steam trains at vintage train depots in Rusk and Palestine state parks for the 50-mile, round-trip journey over 24 bridges through the hardwood creek bottoms. The trip takes 90 minutes to reach the opposite station, where visitors disembark to eat, browse the depot train stores and relax amid nature's splendor. Riders then re-board for the return trip.
Gift shops in the Rusk and Palestine Train Stations prove popular with train enthusiasts who can choose from nostalgic items such as pocket watches and engineer caps to more modern collectibles like locomotive mugs and custom magnets. Adults can keep the kids' hunger pangs at bay during the stopover with sandwiches, drinks and baked goods by Palestine's famous Eilenberger's German bakery. Soft drinks, snacks and Blue Bell ice cream are available on the train as well.
Park Manager Robert Crossman says the Texas State Railroad's new promotion should prove especially popular with young fans of the Thomas the Tank Engine storybook character who is amazed by their exposure to the real thing. The railroad experience, he says, can prove both entertaining and educational for young and old alike.
"We offer a kid-friendly attraction that offers, weather permitting, a tour of the locomotive cab, where they can talk with the engineer, fireman and other members of the crew," Crossman said. "Most are in awe of the railroad experience, whether they are eight or 80."
For the second summer in a row, the railroad will be operating a climate-controlled passenger coach on both the eastbound and westbound trains, according to Mark Price, the railroad's assistant superintendent. Concession operations, too, have been improved and expanded for the railroad whose annual ridership, Price said, topped 42,000 last year.
Trains run Saturdays and Sundays until June when they will begin operating Thursdays through Sundays, remaining on a four-day schedule through the end of July. Regular train excursions revert to a weekend-only schedule in August and continue until the end of the season, Nov. 21. Trains depart both depots at 11 a.m., arriving back at the station at 3:30 p.m.
Regular seating ticket prices for adults (persons 13 and older) are $11 one-way and $16 round-trip. Tickets for climate-controlled cars are $15 one-way and $22 round-trip for adults. Ticket offices open at 9 a.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (800) 442-8951 (Texas only) or (903) 683-2561.
Steam Engine Restoration Shop tours, murder mysteries, starlight excursions and other special events are held periodically throughout the year at the Texas State Railroad. Currently, the railroad's largest and smallest vintage steam engines are undergoing refurbishing at the shop in Rusk.
The TSRR is the only steam railroad in the nation that runs two steam trains simultaneously each day of operation. One train, however, is being pulled by a 1947 diesel engine because of steam locomotive refurbishment projects currently under way.
Convict labor built the original railroad in 1881 to serve the state-owned East Texas Penitentiary smelter in Rusk that produced cast iron for the state's 19th century needs and helps to maintain the 32 miles of track right of way. TPWD acquired the railroad in 1972 after the rail line was abandoned by a private company, reinstating passenger service in 1976.
MEDIA DAY: The Texas State Railroad invites members of the media and their families to be TSRR's guests to enjoy a train ride and/or tour of the train restoration shop visit May 29. The train departs the Rusk depot at 11 a.m. and returns at 3:30 p.m. Please R.S.V.P. by calling the above numbers.

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
May 10, 2004
Game Warden Named 'Officer of the Year' for First Time in Central Texas
AUSTIN, Texas -- Attorney General Greg Abbott presented Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Warden Turk Jones with the 100 Club of Central Texas' 'Officer of the Year' Award at a banquet here Wednesday night.
The award, the last presentation in the evening honoring area law enforcement officers, is the highest honor the group bestows.
"These are the men and women we look to for help -- the people our children look up to as role models," Abbott said.
He went on to list Jones' accomplishments in Central Texas last year. Jones patrols Lakes Travis and Austin and made five Boating While Intoxicated Cases last year, three controlled substances cases, issued 304 water-safety violations (including 18 to those who brought children without flotation devices), as well as DWI's and weapons violations. He made cases that resulted in $14,000 in assessed fines, mentored two new wardens and oversaw 15 other BWI cases that they made.
"We are lucky to have Turk Jones as a warden and are proud of the work he does helping make sure those on Central Texas waterways are safe," said Capt. Robert Goodrich, Jones' supervisor.
TPWD received a large trophy from the 100 Club to display for the next year with the engraved names of those officers who won the award before. Jones received a stone trophy and a 100 Club leather jacket.
This is the first time a TPWD game warden has achieved this award from the Central Texas 100 Club.
"It is great when you are recognized for your work," Jones said. "I enjoy what I do out there and am glad there is an organization like this club that supports officers."
Game Warden Capt. Greg Williford was also honored at the banquet with an Excellence in Police Work Award for his work on a recent case where a suspect was claiming to run a non-profit children's camp in order to get first dibs on state equipment and vehicles before the public. He was also getting the vehicles for less than what he should have. The case involved eight state agencies and resulted in two felony arrests being made.
"Capt. Williford's professionalism and diligence in this case led to the stopping of a scam that was costing the state a lot of money," said Internal Affairs Chief Craig Hunter.
The 100 Club has 1,600 members and is in its 21st year. The group was formed primarily to assist and support the families of fallen officers. They provide financial assistance in the event of a death and in many other ways, also assist the children of those officers who are killed.
The club provides a scholarship program for officers who want to continue their education. And they are supplying every officer in Central Texas with a protective vest and equipment if they do not have it. This includes vests for the K-9 officers.
For more information about the club, visit the Web (http://www.100clubcentex.com/).

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [SA]
May 10, 2004
TPWD Honors Game Wardens, Citizen, Who Go Beyond Call of Duty
AUSTIN, Texas -- Game warden Michael Boone was off-duty when he heard about friend and fellow warden Wesley Wagstaff's fatal car accident while en route to an 'Operation Game Thief' call last November. Although shocked by what happened, he called his officers and Wagstaff's family and notified them of the accident. Boone later responded to the OGT call himself and arrested a man for illegally shooting a white-tailed deer outside of the hunting season.
His professionalism in a time of grief has earned him recognition, along with four other game wardens and one civilian, from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's law enforcement division.
"It's an honor, but I did what Wesley would have wanted me to do," Boone said. "He wouldn't have wanted us to lay down, so we didn't lay down. We're still in forward motion here."
Boone received the Midwest Officer of the Year award April 13. Game Wardens Kevin Malonson and Susan Webb received the Humanitarian Award, which is awarded to those who give their time to comfort and support a fellow employee during a crisis. Malonson and Webb helped the family of Michael Pauling, a game warden who was killed in the line of duty Aug. 2, 2001. Webb also worked to fulfill the needs of Wagstaff's family.
The division also honored warden Ernest Lerma and Joe Bill Powell, a private citizen, for their quick action administering first-aid to Game warden James Turner. The warden had a seizure while the men were patrolling for illegal hunting activities near Kirbyville Oct. 23, 2003. Lerma's actions, which saved Turner's life, earned him a Medal of Merit for services rendered beyond the normal course of duty. Powell received a Director's Award given to private citizens who assist law enforcement employees.
"They've made outstanding accomplishments above and beyond the call of duty," said David Sinclair, TPWD's Chief of Wildlife Enforcement. Sinclair is the chairman of the Awards Review Board, which receives nominations four times a year to honor hard-working game wardens.
Game wardens work every day to protect Texas wildlife and civilians, sometimes putting themselves in danger to help others. Although he is honored by the recognition, Boone said, "There are many, many game wardens in the state of Texas that deserve the same thing."

[ Note: This item is more than 13 years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [KE]
May 10, 2004
Stay Tuned
Information from Texas Parks and Wildlife is available on radio and television, as well as the newsstand.
Passport to Texas, TPWD's radio series of weekday, 90-second stories is broadcast on about 100 Texas stations. Airing the week of May 10-14, living in the city doesn't mean you have to drive hours to get to a state park, and how another outbreak of golden alga is keeping folks on alert.
For more information, visit the Web (http://www.passporttotexas.org/).
Video News
TPWD provides video news reports that run in newscasts on numerous Texas stations, as well as on cable and satellite outlets around the nation. This month's stories include: archeologists and volunteers are finding new artifacts at San Jacinto Battleground; the third annual crab trap cleanup; nesting bald eagles who built their next to a highway are becoming a tourist attraction; and all about avoiding tick-borne diseases.
"Texas Parks & Wildlife" is a weekly half-hour television series seen on PBS affiliates around the state. Airing May 9-16, claiming the water rights to Caddo Lake; turkey watching at South Llano River; and canoe basics.
For more information about this week's programs and where they can be viewed, visit the Web (http://tpwd.texas.gov/tv).
Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine is always available on newsstands throughout the state and by subscription for $19.95 a year. To subscribe, call (800) 937-9393 or order on line (http://www.tpwmagazine.com/).