AUSTIN – The 2021 Toyota ShareLunker season continued its hot start after anglers reeled in two more Legacy Class Lunkers during the final weekend of January. That brings the total to four this year, equaling the amount caught during the 2020 season with two more months still to go. In addition, both anglers went on to win their respective tournaments due in large part to landing the Legacy Lunkers.
Angler Derek Mundy, from Broaddus, Texas, kicked off the weekend Friday by landing a 13.62-pounder during the Toyota Series Southwestern Division Tournament on Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Mundy recorded the catch using a crankbait shortly after hitting the water.
“I pulled up on an offshore hard spot and caught it on the third cast of the day,” said Mundy. “When she got to the boat, I knew I was dealing with a good-sized fish but wasn’t necessarily expecting it to be a 13 pounder. Fishing in tournaments my goal is to get the fish into the live well as fast as I can so that’s where my focus was. However, after taking a look and weighing the fish, it was awesome to see it check in at 13.62 pounds. I caught two more fish 7.5 pounds each on the same bait three casts later.”
Mundy’s Legacy Lunker was the cornerstone to a 39-pound total bag and the tournament championship.
“It was a really neat experience being able to donate the fish to the incredible ShareLunker program,” added Mundy. “It’s great that Texas Parks and Wildlife works this hard to put high quality fish in the lakes. They want the fish to live as much as I do and the amount of fish care that TPWD puts into it is outstanding. It’s a top-class organization and program for sure.”
Mundy’s Legacy Lunker placed Sam Rayburn back on the board with a Legacy Class fish for the second time this season. Angler Travis Moore reeled in the 13.44-pounder using a Carolina rig during the Bass Champs tournament Saturday January 9 to kick off the 2021 Toyota ShareLunker season. Sam Rayburn has produced 29 all-time Legacy Class ShareLunkers, the first two coming in 1993.
Angler Daniel Ramsey, from Trinidad, Texas reeled in the second Legacy Lunker of the weekend Saturday and fourth of the 2021 season. Ramsey caught “ShareLunker 589”, which checked in at 13.07 pounds, at Lake Palestine during the Media Bass Tournament.
“Last year during this same tournament on Jan. 26, 2020 I weighed in a 12.65-pound bass off a dock with brush that had 16 feet of water at the end of it. I went back to that dock because I had caught a big one on it the year before, so I knew it held good fish this time of year. My first cast was about 7:01 a.m. and at about 7:10, I pitched up under the dock and started working my M-pack jig back to me. I was within five feet of where I caught the 12.65 pounder last year, when I got the hit. I set the hook and got her to the boat and couldn’t believe what I had just done.”
The catch by Ramsey on Saturday helped propel him to a tournament victory with a total bag of 28.96 pounds.
“After weighing her in at 13.07 pounds, we contacted Kyle [Brookshear] and he got everything in motion and got the ShareLunker truck headed our direction,” added Ramsey. “They took possession of the fish and I headed back out to try and finish up my limit. The ShareLunker program is an extraordinary program and the folks put in extra time to make sure the fish are taken care of. The quality of fish in Texas lakes is improving in my opinion and the ShareLunker program has played a huge part in it. I appreciate all the work that Texas Parks and Wildlife folks put in to improve our fisheries.”
It was a milestone for Lake Palestine, marking just the third Legacy Lunker for the fishery in the history of the program. The first Legacy Lunker (#545) at Lake Palestine was recorded March 2, 2013 by angler Lindell Dee Booth, Jr from Chandler, Texas, a 13.14 pounder. The second followed on February 1, 2014 with Casey Lee Laughlin of Rowlett, Texas nabbing Lunker #554, which is a lake record 13.22 pounds.
After being notified by the anglers Friday and Saturday, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologists quickly obtained and transported “ShareLunker 588” and “ShareLunker 589” to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. This spring, TPWD biologists will attempt to spawn them in an effort to make bigger, better bass that will enhance fishing in Texas lakes for years to come.
“Having four ShareLunkers loaned just in the month of January of the collection season is a phenomenal start to 2021,” said Toyota ShareLunker Program Coordinator, Kyle Brookshear. “There have only been a few other times in the program’s history that January has been equal to or more productive. Most recently the 2011 season with five entries, the 2005 season with four entries, the 1995 season with seven entries, and the 1992 season with five entries. All of which were extremely productive collection seasons that included the current state record (18.18lbs) and the programs current record high collection season (36 entries). This season is just getting started and with a little cooperation from mother nature, this could be another banner year for the Toyota ShareLunker Program and anglers alike.
During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13+ pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers can call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 until April 1, 2021.
Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13+ lunkers earn Legacy Class status, receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13lb+ Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica of their lunker fish. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate drawings; a Legacy Class Drawing and the year-end Grand Prize Drawing. Both drawings will award the winner a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 lbs. or 24 inches during the calendar year 2021 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license. ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8lb+), Elite Class (10lb+), and Legend Class (13lb+).
Once a lunker is reeled in, anglers need to enter the catch data on the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app – available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play – or on the Toyota ShareLunker online app at TexasSharelunker.com. In addition to providing basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.
Prize donors Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Co. and Stanley Jigs also provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/ or TexasSharelunker.com.
For pictures of all of the Legacy Class ShareLunkers caught during the 2021 season, visit the TPWD Flickr album here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmTzg7fF.