ATHENS – It didn’t take long for the first pair of Legacy Class largemouth bass of the 2022 Toyota ShareLunker season to find their way into angler’s boats. It was more than fitting that Tyler Anderson from Austin and Wendell Ramsey, Sr. of San Angelo, landed 14.48 and 14.92 – pounders respectively during week one of the season at O.H. Ivie. Last year, the fishery produced 12 of the 23 Legacy Lunkers during a remarkable 2021 season.
Anderson hooked his personal record Legacy Lunker Wednesday Jan. 5 using an Alabama rig in about 28 feet of water. Anderson, who grew up in Austin and has always wanted to catch a 10-pounder, set out to do a series of YouTube videos called “10 Days for a 10” targeting big largemouth bass. He selected O.H. Ivie to begin the series and reeled in seven and five pounders on the first day. On day two, the first fish of the day proved to be the fish of a lifetime for Anderson.
“I stumbled upon a school of what looked to be eight or nine fish,” said Anderson. “My cast ended up being a little too short and landed right on top of where they were. My Alabama Rig fell right into the school of fish, but I didn’t even have to retrieve the lure. I lifted it right up and started my retrieve and the fish was already on there. I’ve known about O.H. Ivie for many years and last year’s success with ShareLunker’s reinvigorated my desire to get out there.”
Anderson plans to continue his video series with some stops at additional lakes along the way. He will have this catch posted in a couple of weeks and hopes another Lunker may land in his boat during this journey.
“I have wanted to be a part and contribute to the ShareLunker program for a long time,” added Anderson. “When I quickly weighed the fish in my boat and saw the scale, I told myself my fishing for the day is done with this lifetime catch. I headed into Concho and everyone there was great. It was all about taking care of the fish until TPWD personnel arrived. This fish did great, and we made the transfer for its trip to Athens.”
Ramsey, who is a fishing guide in West Texas with a lot of experience on different lakes, secured his Legacy Lunker on an umbrella rig with 3.5 rage tail swimmers Saturday, Jan. 8. Ramsey was asked by a good friend to take their grandsons fishing.
“We started out working some spots for white bass and black bass to get a few bites for the kids and have a good time,” said Ramsey. “It was slow, and we moved around the lake to some different spots before we circled back to where we started. I spotted a fish suspended in about 14 feet of water and quickly grabbed a fishing pole. I sent the cast past the fish and slowly let it go down to about eight feet before I started reeling. The fish hit the bait and when I set the hook it didn’t budge so I knew it was a really big fish. The battle started and I eventually brought it into the boat with the dip net.”
Once the fish was in the boat, Ramsey instantly knew it was over 12-pounds but had no idea it would top the 14-pound mark until he got it on his digital scales.
“I asked the boys to go with me and witness this whole process with the Toyota ShareLunker program and I think they really enjoyed it,” added Ramsey. “While we waited for the truck to come pick up the fish, I took the boys back to their family’s boat to let them continue fishing. What a special time for me and them as well.”
Once Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologists were notified Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, they quickly got on the road to collect and transport “ShareLunker 609” and “ShareLunker 610” to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where biologists are providing them top-notch care. Biologists plan to attempt to spawn them to make bigger, better bass to stock in and enhance fishing in Texas lakes.
“This is a great start to the 2022 collection season,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Manager. “After the historic 2021 season, it seems fitting that the first two entries come from O.H. Ivie. Many predict another record season for trophy bass catches across the state and with the 2022 season underway, time will soon tell.”
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 TPWD 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, 2022.
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 mount of their Lunker fish from Lake Fork Taxidermy. 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.
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas. The 2022 season offers an opportunity to join the special club of premier anglers who have submitted a Legacy class ShareLunker.
Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 pounds or 24 inches during the calendar year 2022 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 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.