|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-03-21                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four 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 21, 2013
54.3-pound Blue Catfish Sets New Mark for Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
ATHENS--Jordan Rethmeier of Garland and his father often fish in Lake Zebco, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center's stocked casting pond. They've caught some big catfish, but Saturday, March 16, produced the biggest yet, a new water body record blue catfish.
Jordan reeled in a 54.3-pound fish that was 47 inches long and 31 inches around.
Lake Zebco covers about 1.5 acres. A stream enters one end of the pond, and fishing piers line both sides. At the opposite end the pond widens and deepens, and that's where Jordan was fishing.
"The bait was a whole four-inch gizzard shad set two to three feet below the bobber and left to drift as the wind blew it across the pond," he said. "I was using a heavy spinning reel with 50-lb. braided line on our standard big-fish pole that we never thought would get seriously tested by anything. We set the pole down and flipped the bail so if it got a bite the fish wouldn't haul off with it; it's a good idea if you want to keep your rod and reel!"
Jordan sat down to rig a trout pole, and suddenly his dad yelled, "Jordan your bobber is gone and it's not coming back up!"
Jordan continued his story. "The fish took the bait as all the other big ones do in that pond. They grab it and start swimming off. There is no playing around with those catfish. Once they decide to eat it, they rarely if ever let go. He took off on his first run, and I felt his full power! My eyes got big when I saw the huge swirl he made on the surface of the water! My dad said he must be a good one, 15 maybe 20 pounds.
"This fish was big and fighting like it; you could feel the power in every tail stroke! When he would start to get close to shore he would peel off line and head back for the middle of the pond. The difference with this fish was the endurance he had. He just would not tire out and kept peeling line whenever he would get close to the bank. There was one point when he went into a roll, and I thought I was going to lose him. When they do that it sometimes dislodges the hook. We didn't get a look at him for quite a few minutes, but after each run, my dad kept raising his guess as to his weight, 20 to 25, another run, 30 pounds?
"Then we caught a glimpse of him and my dad just said, 'OH MY! We may need a golf cart to haul him to the scales!' The fight must have lasted eight minutes or more--just a tug of war with him taking line whenever he came in close and me pulling him back in afterwards. Thankfully he got tired out just before I did! I pulled one last time and got him close in, where my dad managed to grab him and pull him up on shore with my assistance since it was a bit too heavy for him alone. We both were speechless, and just knew we had a BIG one but didn't know how big! Fortunately a TFFC staff member arrived with the golf cart to put him in, and it was off to the big scale. I was exhausted! We weighed him and measured him and couldn't believe the numbers! 54.3 pounds, 47 inches long, and 31 inches around! All I could do was smile. We took him back to the pond and made sure he was doing OK and let him go. Truly a magnificent fish!"

[ Note: This item is more than four 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 21, 2013
Louisiana Angler Lands Latest ShareLunker
ATHENS--Donald Deville of Ville Platte, Louisiana makes regular visits to Lake Fork with friends and family to fish for big bass, but he had never landed a double-digit fish.
Until March 20.
The 14.06-pound largemouth bass he caught mid-morning of the group's first day on the lake is now Toyota ShareLunker 547. The fish was 25.75 inches long and 22 inches in girth. It was held for pickup at Lake Fork Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Station.
Deville caught the fish in five feet of 58-degree water using a Brush Hog.
"It was about my third cast," Deville said. "I was fishing with one of my sons, and he threw on the left side of the stump, and I threw on the right. And I got the big lunker to bite."
Deville fought the fish for some time. "She didn't wrap on anything, but she took a lot of drag," he said. "Finally we saw her and how big she was, and we got really excited."
Deville was not familiar with the Toyota ShareLunker program, but some members of his group were and advised him to take the fish to Lake Fork Marina to be weighed. "I'm really excited about the way Lake Fork Marina handled the fish and the care they took of the fish after we got it here," he said.
Deville said he intends to keep returning to Lake Fork as long as he is able. "Hopefully my grandchildren can enjoy that," he said.
The fish is the eleventh entry into the Toyota ShareLunker program during the current season. Average weight of the entries this season so far is 13.85 pounds, and the largest entry weighed 16.04. Two 14-pounders and one 15-pounder have also been 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 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 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.