|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-03-19                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: James Booker, (903) 670-2266; james.booker@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 19, 2012
Outdoor Fools Day Offers Food, Fun and Outdoor Activities
ATHENS--Life's better outside, especially during springtime in Texas. And nowhere will it be better on April 7 than at Outdoor Fools Day at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC).
The annual event will run from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and all activities are free with regular paid admission ($5.50 adults, $4.50 seniors, $3.50 children ages 4 to 12) to the center.
A short video of highlights from a prior year gives a taste of what Outdoor Fools Day is like; it can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Texas-Freshwater-Fisheries-Center/128462433868391.
The purpose of the event is to showcase outdoor recreation opportunities in East Texas while teaching some of the skills that will help you enjoy them, such as camping, fishing, dutch oven cooking, birding and more.
The Blackland Prairie Raptor Center will display various birds of prey while explaining their place in the ecosystem and why it is important to protect them. You can get an up-close look at the birds during a 12 noon presentation in the Hart-Morris Conservation center, and they will also be displayed around the grounds at other times.
Returning for another year will be the popular Wildlife on the Move "The Unhuggables" show, which features a variety of animals and lots of information about them. Presenter Eric Brittingham delivers a rapid-fire presentation about the animals' habitats and conservation and debunks myths such as "snakes are slimy." You'll be able to prove that to yourself by touching a 12-foot python following 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. presentations in the Hart-Morris Conservation Center. Some of the creatures will also be on display at other times on the grounds near the Conservation Center.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Division will present a salt-water touch tank that is always good for smiles and squeals as kids touch creatures that are harmless but don't look it.
The Lone Star Bowhunters Association and Dutch oven cookers are perennial favorites at Outdoor Fools Day. Young and old alike enjoy flinging arrows at life-size replicas of deer, hogs and turkeys almost as much as they like snacking on tasty goodies cooked over coals and served up warm.
Tracking dogs from Texas Trackers will do their thing along the Wetlands Trail, demonstrating how these amazing dogs with their sensitive noses can follow the trail of a wounded animal. They also love to be petted. (Please leave your own dog at home. Pets are not allowed at TFFC.)
Other exhibits will include a state park area that will help you learn how to identify animal tracks. There will be fly-fishing and kayaking instruction and information on hunter education. TFFC is one of the best places in the state to take your hunter education course, and you can visit with the instructors during Outdoor Fools Day.
Shopping for a variety of outdoor products will be offered by Cabela's, and the TFFC gift shop is well-stocked with snacks and fishing-related clothing and gift items.
Don't forget to bring an ice chest so you can take home some rainbow trout. Fishing is always free at TFFC, you never need a license, and bait and tackle are always furnished. You are welcome to bring your own fishing gear, but only single hooks with the barb mashed down are allowed.
Currently each person can harvest and keep up to five trout for free. Just be sure to check in at the Anglers Pavilion for orientation before fishing and report your catch there before leaving.
Outdoor Fools Day is made possible by the generosity of our sponsors: Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites--Athens; First State Bank; Schneider Electric; Dr. Mark Roberts, DDS; McDonald's--Lilly Enterprises; Red Hat Rentals; FutureMatrix, Inc., Aaron's Sales and Lease; Best Western Royal Mountain Inn--Athens; Cabela's; East Texas Medical Center; Friends of TFFC; and Wulf Outdoor Sports.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is at 5550 F.M. 2495, Athens, Texas, which is about 75 miles southeast of Dallas. For information or directions, call (903) 676-2277 or visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.

[ Note: This item is more than seven 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]
March 19, 2012
Falcon, Fork Produce Toyota ShareLunkers
ATHENS--Perennial big-bass lakes Falcon and Fork each produced a Toyota ShareLunker over the weekend.
Falcon started the ball rolling March 16 with a 14.39-pounder, the biggest fish entered into the program so far this season. Gary Wingate of Amarillo caught the fish in 12 feet of water using a plastic worm. The fish was 26.5 inches long and 20.75 inches in girth. It was weighed at Robert's Fish 'n Tackle in Zapata.
Wingate's catch boosted him into the front-runner spot for Angler of the Year. The person who catches the season's largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis valued at $818. The package includes a G. Loomis NRX854C jig and worm rod, a Shimano ChronarchD1007 casting reel and 150 yards of moss green Power Pro super-braid fishing line. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.
Lake Fork chimed in Sunday with a 13.1-pounder caught in a JC Outdoors individual tournament. Michael Justus of Garland was fishing alone when the big bass took his finesse worm on a dropshot rig in six to seven feet of water.
This weekend's fish are the eighth and ninth entries of the season.
"It was a battle," Justus said. "I got the net after her five times before I finally netted her. Then I realized how big she was. It was awesome. It's something I'll cherish forever, that's for sure."
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 the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year's season, see http://tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
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.

[ Note: This item is more than seven years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: David Campbell, (903) 670-2230 through March 30; Larry Hodge, (903) 670-2255, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ]
March 19, 2012
ShareLunker Program Coordinator to Retire
ATHENS--David L. Campbell, coordinator of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's ShareLunker program, will retire at the end of March.
Campbell has worked for Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for 46 years. He was inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2011.
As manager of the Tyler Fish Hatchery, he was instrumental in the introduction of Florida largemouth bass into Texas and has helped stock fish into almost every public reservoir in the state. He has been associated with the ShareLunker program since its beginning. He picked up the first fish entered into the program in 1986 and most of the more than 500 entered since.
Through his years of experience of caring for trophy largemouth bass, Campbell contributed a great deal to the knowledge of how best to care for big fish and communicated this information to the public through countless interviews with media from newspapers, magazines, radio and television. This emphasis on the proper way to handle big fish appeared in newspaper articles as early as 1990 and may prove to be one of Campbell's most enduring legacies. Coming as it did at the same time catch-and-release of big bass became the norm, the impact of proper fish handling on the conservation of trophy bass can hardly be overestimated.
"David Campbell and the ShareLunker program are almost synonymous," said Gary Saul, director of TPWD's Inland Fisheries Division. "He is without doubt the number one ambassador for the ShareLunker program, which is TPWD's most highly visible program, gaining more media coverage annually than all other TPWD programs combined. To hundreds of anglers and the public, Campbell is Mr. ShareLunker."
"David Campbell has been one of the most dedicated employees of TPWD I have ever worked with," said Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where the ShareLunker program is headquartered. "His work ethic is legendary within TPWD. Few people have so completely and selflessly dedicated their lives to making fishing better for the anglers of Texas as David has. Every big bass caught from a Texas reservoir is part of his legacy."
Following is a synopsis of Campbell's career with TPWD.
Campbell started work in 1965 as a fish hatchery assistant at the Lewisville State Fish Hatchery and worked his way up to Hatchery Manager at the Tyler Fish Hatchery and later the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. He has raised and stocked literally millions of fish in Texas waters including black bass, channel catfish, blue catfish, crappie, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, northern pike, walleye, peacock bass and several sunfish and forage species.
In 1973 Campbell went to Florida to collect Florida largemouth bass. The stocking of Florida largemouth bass into Texas public reservoirs elevated trophy fishing in Texas forever and earned Campbell the nickname "Godfather of Big Bass." Under the direction of former TPWD Fisheries Director Bob Kemp, Campbell began breeding and stocking pure Florida bass as an experiment to increase the size of trophy bass in Texas. By the early eighties, these efforts began to pay off as the 13.5-pound state record that had existed since 1943 was broken four times in six years. Then in November 1986, Mark Stevenson caught a 17.67-pound bass named Ethel out of Lake Fork. That fish shattered all previous records, garnered nationwide media coverage, and changed fishing in Texas forever.
Campbell spent hours every night trying to get the fish to eat until he finally nursed her back to health. The importance of the success of that effort is enormous: In part because that fish lived, a series of events took place that had a national impact on bass fishing, a huge impact on the Texas economy, and significant improvements in the TPWD hatchery system, including construction of a state-of-the-art hatchery, ShareLunker care and breeding facility, visitor center and Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
With Ethel the ShareLunker Program was born, and catch-and-release conservation became a way of life for trophy bass anglers. Since that time, there have been more than 500 entries into the ShareLunker program, and Campbell's research and insight into trophy bass have not only given TPWD the largest collection of data on big bass in the world, but have earned him the respect and admiration of anglers and outdoor writers alike.
In addition, Ethel proved to be a fish that changed the world of bass fishing. After Campbell nursed the fish back to health, she was put on display at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri, where she pulled millions of visitors into the store. Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris credited Ethel with much of the success of the business, saying that she was the best thing that ever happened to Bass Pro in terms of getting people into the store. In recognition of that contribution, Morris donated $650,000 for the construction of the Richard M. Hart and Johnny Morris Conservation Center at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, which was built largely to house the ShareLunker program.
Bass Pro Shops now has more than 50 stores and donates millions annually to conservation.
As the coordinator of the ShareLunker program for most of its 26-year history, Campbell picked up most of the fish from anglers, driving 10,000 miles or more annually and working all night and many weekends to do so.
Campbell is untiringly modest about his achievements, preferring to give credit for his success to others. "What stands out more than anything else from the 26 years of the ShareLunker program is the cooperation from the anglers," he said. "Anglers have been very supportive of the program. They have learned how to care for their big fish, and they understand the objective of the program is to increase the number of trophy bass caught in Texas. If you don't have the support of the people using the sport fishery itself, you haven't accomplished anything."
David L. Campbell has accomplished a great deal.
Timeline of Campbell's Career with TPWD
--1965 -- Employed by TPWD at the Lewisville State Fish Hatchery
--1968 -- Transferred to Tyler Fish Hatchery
--1973 -- Promoted to manager of the Tyler Fish Hatchery
--1973 -- Traveled to Florida to bring back Florida largemouth bass for rearing and experimental stocking
--1986 -- Picked up ShareLunker No. 1
--1989 -- Held workshops in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana teaching how to culture Florida bass
--1995 -- Texas Black Bass Unlimited, President's Conservationist Award
--1996 -- Transferred to Ed Cox, Jr., Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens as hatchery manager and ShareLunker program coordinator
--1999 -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Employee Recognition Award, Special Achievements
--2005 -- Office of the Governor of Texas, Certificate of Appreciation for 40 years of public service
--2010 -- Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 45-year Service Award
--2011 -- Inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame
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