|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2008-10-10                                    |
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [RM]
Oct. 10, 2008
Texas Parks & Wildlife Assessing Hurricane-Damaged Parks, Aiding Affected Employees
AUSTIN, Texas -- A month after Hurricane Ike roared ashore in Galveston, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working to reopen a handful of still-closed east and southeast Texas state parks, assessing the future of two coastal parks that suffered catastrophic damage and assisting displaced park employees.
The Sept. 13 hurricane destroyed Sea Rim State Park near Sabine Pass and Galveston Island State Park farther down the coast, and caused damage to dozens of other state parks in southeast and east Texas.
"Right now, we're in the assessment phase, stepping back and trying to catch our breath," said TPWD Deputy Executive Director Scott Boruff. "We're looking aggressively at how we're going to rebuild in light of funding issues and other limitations, and we're trying to take care of our people impacted by the storm."
The total cost of the cleanup and repairs is still unknown, Boruff said. For Galveston Island and Sea Rim, it will be some time before damage assessment is complete and decisions about the future of these parks are reached, and park construction may ultimately reflect a different facility design that takes into consideration the impact of major storms.
The water well pump damaged by the storm has been replaced at Brazos Bend State Park southwest of Houston and the park opened Oct. 10, according to Justin Rhodes, regional state parks director for southeast Texas based in La Porte. He said, he is also awaiting state approval of San Jacinto's repaired water system, but is expected to have the battleground and Battleship TEXAS, which is moored there, open "within the next two weeks."
Lake Livingston, Martin Dies Jr., and Village Creek state parks remain closed, but are expected to reopen by November, if not sooner. Timber salvage operations and other repairs are under way at the affected state parks.
Mission Tejas State Park near Grapeland, where the headquarters building suffered fire damage due to a malfunctioning generator providing power after the hurricane, remains closed, but should be open by Nov. 1, Superintendent John Ferguson said.
The department is working to aid park employees from sites affected by Ike. For employees whose work locations were destroyed or were otherwise displaced by the hurricane, TPWD is offering options to find jobs at other locations with the agency where possible, and to provide 90 days' severance pay for workers who decide not to accept another position.
More than 60 employees affected by Ike in multiple TPWD divisions are being offered the chance to apply for assistance from the TPWD Employee Hurricane Relief Fund said Al Bingham, TPWD's director of Human Resources. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and other donors have so far donated more than $110,000 for the relief fund.
TPWD estimators are still busy assessing storm damage to affected state parks to try to come up with rough costs of what will be needed to get parks back on line, said Scott Stover, interim director of the Infrastructure Division.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Oct. 10, 2008
Texans Welcome the 'Come-Back' Cranes
Mention great Texas comeback stories and some people will think of Staubach and Pearson and the Hail Mary pass that gave the Cowboys a victory over Minnesota in the 1975 play-offs. Texas Tech fans will cite the Red Raiders' record-breaking comeback win over the University of Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl.
But this fall Texans everywhere have a chance to be a part of what may be the most remarkable comeback story of all time.
In 1944 there were only 21 whooping cranes left in the world, with 18 of those spending that winter on the Texas coast. This fall, wildlife officials are hoping that as many as 285 whoopers will winter in Texas, bringing the worldwide population, including captive and experimental populations, to around 540. The Texas population, which winters in the coastal wetlands of Calhoun and Aransas counties near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, should show an increase this year over the 266 whoopers wintering in 2007-08, thanks to a record 66 whooping crane nests in Canada this summer.
Rarely has any species experienced such a dramatic recovery, according to Lee Ann Linam, biologist in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Wildlife Diversity Program.
"The outlook is often discouraging when any species reaches such a low population point, but whooping cranes had several things going for them," Linam says.
Linam notes that whooping cranes have a long life-span, up to 25 years, and, though they don't produce many young, the parental care that the adults provide ensures a fairly high survival of young.
"These life history traits, combined with remote breeding grounds, protection from overharvest, and efforts by public and private landowners to conserve coastal wetlands in Texas have helped this magnificent bird to make a slow, but steady comeback," she says.
Texans can continue to play an important role in the return of the whooping crane. Starting in late October, whooping cranes will begin passing through Texas en route to their wintering grounds. The primary migratory path runs from north-central Texas southeast to the mid-coast region, often passing over areas such as Wichita Falls, Dallas-Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, Victoria, El Campo, Port Lavaca, and Rockport. Texans are asked to be on the lookout for whoopers and report their sightings.
Whooping cranes are the tallest birds in North America, standing over 4 feet tall. They are solid white in color except for black wing-tips that are visible only in flight and a small marking of black feathers and red skin on the head. They fly with necks and legs outstretched. During migration they often pause overnight to use wetlands for roosting and agricultural fields for feeding, but seldom remain more than one night.
They nearly always migrate in small groups of less than six birds, but they may be seen roosting and feeding with large flocks of the smaller and grayer sandhill crane.
Whooping cranes are protected by federal and state endangered species laws, and Texans can help safeguard this national treasure by helping to prevent harm or harassment to whooping cranes.
Anyone sighting a whooping crane is asked to report it to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department at 1-800-792-1112 x4644 or 1-512-847-9480. Sightings can also be reported via e-mail at leeann.linam@tpwd.texas.gov.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Oct. 10, 2008
NOAA Authorizes Temporary Use of Restricted Tow Times in Lieu of TEDs for Upper Texas Coast
AUSTIN, Texas -- NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries Service) Oct. 8 announced a temporary authorization affecting shrimp trawlers who are required to use turtle excluder devices (TEDs) in certain state and federal waters off Texas. The authorization will allow shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to use restricted tow times instead of TEDs due to the large numbers of debris left by Hurricane Ike.
NOAA Fisheries Service received requests from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department requesting the authorization because their investigations indicated that increased amounts of debris on the shrimping grounds were causing TEDs to become clogged and ineffective.
"Debris fields from Hurricane Ike are prevalent in Galveston Bay, Sabine Lake and offshore from Freeport to the Louisiana border," said TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division Acting Director Mike Ray. "The Texas exemption is compatible with the Louisiana exemption that is currently in place."
The exemption for Louisiana waters -- due to debris from Hurricane Gustav -- remains valid until 11:59 p.m., Oct. 26, 2008.
The temporary authorization for the upper Texas coast will be published in the Federal Register Oct. 14, 2008; however, it is now in effect in state and federal waters affected by Hurricane Ike from the Texas/Louisiana boundary southward to the boundary shared by Matagorda and Brazoria Counties (approximately 95ยบ 32'W longitude), and extending offshore 20 nautical miles, and is valid until 11:59 p.m., Nov, 7, 2008.
In these areas, shrimp trawlers can trawl without TEDs but must limit their tow times to 55 minutes. Tow times are measured from the time the trawl doors enter the water until they are removed from the water.
NOAA Fisheries Service encourages shrimp trawlers in the affected areas to continue to use TEDs if possible, even though they are authorized under this action to use restricted tow times. NOAA Fisheries Service's studies have shown that the problem of clogging by seagrass, algae, or by other debris is not unique to TED-equipped nets.
When fishermen trawl in problem areas, they may experience clogging with or without TEDs. Shrimp trawlers who continue to use legal TEDs in the affected areas do not have to limit their tow times. However, shrimpers choosing to use tow-time limitations may not simply sew the TED flaps shut; they must remove the TEDs from the trawls.
NOAA Fisheries Service will continue to monitor this situation. If monitoring indicates that debris is no longer a problem, then this authorization will be shortened. If debris continues to be a problem after the dates above, this authorization may be extended. Fishermen should monitor NOAA weather radio for announcements. They may also contact the NOAA Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office for updated information.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Oct. 10, 2008
First U.S. Sighting of Tiger Moth Reported at Falcon State Park
FALCON HEIGHTS, Texas-A species of tiger moth never before recorded in the United States was discovered last Friday, Oct. 3, at Falcon State Park in South Texas. Volunteer Park Naturalist Frances Bartle discovered the moth during a routine check at the park's recreation hall.
Because the recreation hall has a light mounted outside, moths often accumulate there overnight, Bartle said. She was taking routine pictures of the moths when she noticed a species which she did not recognize and decided to send her photo to experts for identification.
"It was something unlike anything I had ever seen before," Bartle said.
Mike Quinn, an invertebrate biologist at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, received the e-mail with Bartle's moth photo. He then sent it to lepidopterists around the world and soon heard back from moth experts in California, North Dakota, Canada and Great Britain.
Sunday morning, Martin R. Honey from the British Museum in London identified the moth as a form of the Phoenicoprocta lydia species, normally more common in Veracruz, Mexico, and never before been seen in the United States.
Quinn is calling the species a "Lydia Tiger Moth" because there is no official common name for this particular species.
"The taxonomy of this group of moths is in need of revision so there is a little wiggle room in regards to identification," Quinn said.
Not much is known about this moth besides the fact that it ranges from Mexico to Central America and is a day-flying moth (as opposed to nocturnal), he said. The extraordinary amount of rainfall in Starr County this year, 40 inches so far as compared to a typical annual average of 18 inches, is probably one factor contributing to the rare presence of this type of moth, Quinn said.
"This moth is a beautiful addition to the United States insect fauna and it gives us the opportunity to study the species and try to identify all the different forms this species takes," he said.
Quinn said Falcon State Park has an active butterfly and moth habitat program, including a butterfly garden. October and November are prime months to see abundant butterflies and moths in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Many butterfly tours and events comb the area, including the Texas Butterfly Festival in Mission Oct. 16-19.
Falcon State Park is also known for its birding. The park has recorded 129 species of birds, with more than 500 total bird species recorded in the surrounding South Texas-Tamaulipan ecoregion.
Visitors come from all over the globe to have the chance at adding an elusive species to their life list, since birds occur here that are seen nowhere else in the USA. Falcon Lake is also considered by many anglers to be one of the state's best kept secrets for bass fishing. The current lake record bass is 15.12 pounds.
The park offers air conditioned and screened shelters for rent and 98 campsites able to accommodate all varieties of camping enthusiasts.
Bartle's photo of the tiger moth is available for news media use as a high resolution .jpg file in the News Images area of the TPWD Web site.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [TH]
Oct. 10, 2008
Top Youth Shooters In Texas Compete In Annual Whiz-Bang
AUSTIN, Texas -- Fifteen of the top youth shotgun shooters from across Texas vied for more than $28,000 in prizes at the 15th Annual Whiz-Bang 4-H Shooting Sports event, held Oct. 3 at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Expo grounds in Austin.
The 9-to-18 year old shooters rose up from a pool of about 4,000 that competed in 4-H youth shooting events statewide this past year, making them the best of the best in Texas. The Whiz-Bang was hosted by Charlie Wilson, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Shooting Sports coordinator. The top five shooters in the Senior, Intermediate and Junior Divisions were invited to compete in the shoot.
Senior Division winners placed in this order: 1st Place, Logan Gaskins of Knott; 2nd Place, Kyler Ford of Burleson; 3rd Place, Leo Ybanez of Corpus Christi; 4th Place, James Bryan of Lake Jackson and 5th Place, Tyler Martin of New Braunfels.
Intermediate winners were: 1st Place, Zach Charbula of Alvin; 2nd Place, Phillip Jungman of Caldwell; 3rd Place, T. J. Tuttle of Boerne; 4th Place, Jacob Perrine of Helotes; and 5th Place, Colt Woods of Kountz.
Junior Winners were: 1st Place, William Onderdonk, of Spring Branch; 2nd Place, Colton Anderson of Spring Branch; 3rd Place, Zach Gauntt of Teague; 4th Place, Konner Worthington of Childress; and 5th Place, Colt McBee of Brady.
First Place winners were awarded Lifetime Hunting and Fishing licenses sponsored by the Fort Worth Sportsmen's Club. Second place winners were each awarded a Browning X-Bolt Rifle in either 7mm-08 or .243 caliber, provided by Browning Arms. All participants were awarded trophies for their respective class, provided by Browning Arms.
Additional prizes awarded included custom gun fittings, shooting coats, vests, caps, a custom gun case by Americase, trap throwers, gun cleaning kits by Otis Technologies, videos, and several other items, with all prizes totaling around $28,000.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
Oct. 10, 2008
DNA Evidence Leads To Deer Poaching Conviction
AUSTIN, Texas -- On Oct. 1, an Angelina County jury sentenced David Peters, 35, of Zavalla to two years in state jail and a $3,000 fine for hunting without landowner consent. The defendant has filed an appeal in this case where DNA evidence analysis applied new technology to help address an age-old concern in the woods of East Texas.
Angelina County Game Wardens James Barge and Heath Bragg gathered DNA evidence from the deer killed in the case. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department forensics analyst Beverly Villarreal tested the DNA from a rifle seized during execution of a search warrant which proved that the rifle had been at the scene of the offense.
Other DNA evidence from beer cans located at the scene and DNA from the defendant was gathered with the help of Lufkin Police Department's crime scene technician Debra Walsh and sent to the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab in Houston. Angelina County Assistant District Attorney Dale Summa tried the case, working with the game wardens all along the way. All of this evidence ultimately proved that Peters, who owned the gun in question, had been at the crime scene.
"Game Wardens Barge and Bragg went far beyond what a lot of officers would typically do in gathering evidence for this case, and they should be commended for their dedication," said Clyde Herrington, Angelina County district attorney. "The use of DNA evidence is something we wish was used more often in our general case load. It was critical in this case."
Nearly a year after the offense, the convicted man's girlfriend's father contacted Game Warden Barge and stated that he had told a false story earlier in the investigation about a time when Peters had arrived at his house, a statement which had given Peters an alibi.
The girlfriend's father went on to state that he had spoken to Peters while he had been illegally hunting and that Peters had stated he was hunting on the complainant's land. The Angelina County district attorney's office helped secure a court order to obtain cell phone records to support the father's statement.
Prosecution witnesses included both game wardens, Walsh, Villarreal, a DPS DNA analyst, the complainant and his wife, and Peters' girlfriend's father. The defendant and his girlfriend took the stand also. The jury acquitted the defendant of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which allegedly occurred when the complainant caught the defendant with the deer at the scene of the offense.
"One thing about this case that caused some concern among the game wardens and in my office as well is that some of these wildlife crime offenders can be belligerent and dangerous," Herrington said. "In my view, one of the reasons we have these laws about hunting and fishing is to protect people as well as wildlife."
Barge said the case marked the first time in his 11-year career as a Texas game warden where human DNA evidence led to a criminal conviction.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: Randy Myers (210) 348-6355, randy.myers@tpwd.texas.gov ]
Oct. 10, 2008
"Fizzical" Research to Answer Questions About Deep-Caught Bass
ATHENS, Texas-Most anglers probably know that many fish caught from deep water can suffer from an over-inflated swim bladder, a condition called hyperbuoyancy. The air bladder inside the fish that inflates and deflates to give the fish neutral buoyancy can expand suddenly when a fish is brought to the surface after being caught. This puts pressure on other internal organs and may even lead to the stomach protruding from the fish's body.
The fish may also be unable to swim upright and submerge. The fish will float at the surface for several hours until the swim bladder depressurizes. This condition by itself may not be lethal, but the fish expends a lot of energy trying to submerge, and it may be struck by a boat or killed by a predator.
Not all floating fish die, but enough do to be a concern.
What anglers and even fisheries biologists don't know is the best way to treat hyperbuoyancy in order to increase survival of fish after they are released.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries biologists intend to find out.
"It's important to understand that if you catch a fish from 30, 40, 50 feet deep and immediately release it, it usually goes right back down with no problem," says Randy Myers, Inland Fisheries district biologist from San Antonio. "Even after it goes through the struggle of being caught, the fish may have enough energy to swim back down to a depth where neutral buoyancy is regained. But if that same fish is kept in a livewell for several hours with an over-inflated bladder, it becomes exhausted from struggling to stay upright and floats on the surface."
Budweiser ShareLunker program manager David Campbell has probably dealt with more big bass suffering from hyperbuoyancy than anyone else, and he feels that fish can develop hyperbuoyancy for several reasons.
"I strongly believe that exhaustion happens when the fish is trying to adjust to its environment, whether that is caused by being pulled from deep water, the stress of being caught, lack of oxygenated water or being in a crowded livewell," he says. "When a fish has room to swim but starts swimming nose down, has to fight to stay down or swims right-side up but never stays more than a few inches below the surface, it has preliminary hyperbuoyancy symptoms and needs relief-and the sooner the better for survival."
Three techniques have been developed to deal with hyperbuoyancy. Two involve puncturing the air bladder to vent gas and reduce the pressure, a procedure commonly called fizzing because when done properly while holding the fish underwater, a stream of bubbles is released.
Fizzing can be done by inserting a hypodermic (hollow) needle into the air bladder through the fish's side or mouth.
The third technique is deep release, sometimes called caging. Using this method, fish are lowered to the approximate depth where they were caught in a weighted cage (a small plastic laundry basket works well) that is open on the bottom. The cage is then lifted free of the fish, which will be repressurized and neutrally buoyant. Deep release can be done immediately or several hours after a fish was caught.
Hal Schramm, Ph.D., a fisheries biologist at Mississippi State University, helped develop deep release with Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "No scientifically valid evaluations have been conducted on this technique, but the FLW Tour uses this for hyperbuoyant fish in their walleye tournaments, and they claim it works great," Schramm says.
Schramm notes that valid scientific evidence does exist that deflating bass swim bladders with a hypodermic needle inserted through the side of the fish does not adversely affect them. David Campbell says his experience with ShareLunkers supports that.
"Before we started puncturing the air bladder, all the fish that had hyperbuoyancy symptoms died," he says. "Since then we have punctured the air bladder on close to a hundred of these big fish, and most survived."
"There is also evidence that swim bladder over-inflation in largemouth bass causes several physiological problems in addition to impairing their ability to return to depth," Schramm says. "This suggests that the best time to relieve swim bladder over-inflation is as soon as possible after the fish is caught-after you have determined that the fish is unable to submerge. No one, to my knowledge, has tested the effects of depressurization immediately upon capture versus after several hours."
Enter Randy Myers and his team of TPWD fisheries biologists.
"In spring and early summer of 2009 we plan to conduct studies to answer two questions," Myers says. "One, which technique-side fizzing, mouth fizzing or deep release-increases survival the most? And two, will fish survive better if they are treated immediately after being caught rather than after having floated in a livewell for several hours?"
The study is particularly important to Texas, which has some deep reservoirs. "What alerted us to the problem was Lake Amistad," Myers explains. "Often the majority of fish have hyperbuoyancy throughout the year, probably because the fish live deep."
Fish do not have to be caught from extreme depths to be affected, Myers notes. "One study found that hyperbuoyancy signs could be seen when fish were caught from as shallow as 11.5 feet," he says. "My experience is that fish caught from more than 20 feet deep will show some signs."
Myers and his team will collect large fish for their study from Amistad by electrofishing. The fish will be put into drop cages and lowered to 30 to 35 feet, allowed to reach neutral buoyancy, and then winched back up quickly.
"All those fish will have been exposed to the same conditions," Myers says. "Some we will put in livewells for four or five hours before treatment. Others will be treated immediately. We will use all three methods of treating hyperbuoyancy but will leave some fish untreated. We will also have a group of fish that do not have hyperbuoyancy, but we will fizz them to see how much sticking the fish with a needle affects survival. We'll hold the fish in large cages for several days to watch for delayed mortality, and dead fish will be autopsied by TPWD fish health staff to identify cause of death. Above- and below-water video will be used to document the study and fish behavior in response to treatment."
Schramm, Campbell and Myers agree that evidence is strong that fizzing and caging do work, but they also agree that having people who don't know what they are doing sticking needles in fish would not be a good thing.
"Treating fish for hyperbuoyancy obviously helps, but we don't know how much," Myers points out. "We want to find out how much and which method helps the most. One of our goals is to learn enough that we can provide educational materials for anglers."
The day has not yet arrived when the well-equipped tackle box will include a hypodermic needle alongside the plastic worms and crankbaits, but if that day comes, Myers wants anglers to be knowledgeable about the best way to ensure bass survival.
After all, the more fish in the lake, the more fun we can have catching them.

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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Oct. 10, 2008
State-Fish Art Contest Calls for Entries
ATHENS, Texas-Texas students in grades 4 through 12 are invited to enter the eleventh annual Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Contest. Deadline for entries is March 31, 2009.
Contestants must create an illustration of an officially recognized state fish and write a one-page composition about its behavior, habitat and conservation. One Texas winner will be selected from each of three grade levels: 4-6, 7-9 and 10-12. Those winners will then compete at the national level for best of show and art of conservation stamp honors.
The Toyota Texas Bass Classic Foundation will provide funding for prizes for Texas winners and for travel expenses for Texas winners and their chaperones to the national expo at the Mall of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in July 2009.
Texas entries are judged at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. For details on the contest and how to enter, visit the State-Fish Art Contest page on the TFFC web site.
Texas contest coordinator Zoe Ann Stinchcomb offers these tips to students and teachers interested in the contest.
"If possible, visit an aquarium or a state or national fish hatchery to observe live fish and their behaviors," she said. "People who work at these facilities are good sources of information. You can also find information on the Internet."
Stinchcomb pointed out that past winners in the Texas contest have come from small towns and big cities and have included home-schooled students as well as private and public school students.
"One of the common characteristics shared by many of the winners has been having a teacher or parent who encouraged the student and took the time to help them plan a course of study of the fish leading up to the preparation of the final work," she said. "No prior knowledge of fish is needed. The Wildlife Forever Web site has a free downloadable lesson plan."
"Especially with students in the lower grades, their artistic skills are just beginning to develop," Stinchcomb added. "The State-Fish Art Contest is an ideal way for these students to discover what they are capable of by competing at statewide and national levels. The quality of the entries we receive is really amazing, and we are proud of the way Texas has been represented in past years."
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is a facility of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department that incorporates a visitor center, educational programming and a production fish hatchery. It is located 75 miles southeast of Dallas and is open Tuesday through Sunday. For more information call (903) 676-2277 or visit the web site.
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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
Oct. 10, 2008
Budweiser ShareLunker Season Off to Early Start
ATHENS, Texas-John True of Dallas kicked off the 2008-2009 Budweiser ShareLunker season October 3 with a 13.38-pound largemouth bass from a private lake in Rusk County.
True was fishing with his three-year-old son, Jack, when the fish took a Senko in 10 feet of water. The fish was 26.75 inches long and 20 inches in girth.
Only five other fish have been entered into the ShareLunker Program in October. The first was Scott Tongate's 16.02-pounder from Possum Kingdom Lake caught October 13, 1989. The latest was Danny McBride's 13.16-pound Lake Fork lunker, caught October 29, 2004.
True's fish is the earliest October entry, but other fish have been entered earlier in the year. One fish was entered in July, two in August and one in September because of special circumstances. Normally fish are accepted into the Budweiser ShareLunker Program only from October 1 through April 30.
Any angler legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more may enter it into the Budweiser ShareLunker Program by calling program manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or paging him at (888) 784-0600 and leaving an area code and number.
Anglers entering fish into the program receive ShareLunker clothing, a fiberglass replica of their catch, and recognition at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens following the close of the season.
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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[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [AR]
Oct. 10, 2008
More than Half of Galveston Bay Boat Ramps Now Accessible
DICKINSON, Texas -- For those anglers who have found a way onto Galveston Bay since Hurricane Ike passed through nearly a month ago, fishing reportedly has been better than average.
"Our gill nets are still producing good catches of spotted seatrout and red drum, and the birds are working the bait schools in the bay," said Bill Balboa, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Galveston Bay ecosystem leader. "So fishing under the birds should be productive, too."
The question is: how to get a boat on the water?
High winds, a powerful storm surge and tons of debris damaged or blocked almost all of the boat ramps around the Galveston Bay system in the days immediately following Hurricane Ike. Now, slightly more than half of those launch points are back in some semblance of working order.
"Approximately 67 of the 127 sites we have been regularly surveying are now accessible," Balboa said. "Some sites -- especially bait camps -- may take months to repair, and even for the sites we have listed as open, we recommend that anglers check with ramp owners and operators and exercise caution when launching, running the bay and fishing."
Balboa said debris hazards are still a significant issue and that it is even possible that bay bottom topography has been altered by the hurricane.
For a complete list of Galveston Bay-area boat ramps that are open or accessible as of Oct. 10, please visit the TPWD Web site.
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