ATHENS – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Toyota ShareLunker Program is having another outstanding year in its goal to create, bigger, better bass in Texas. After obtaining two successful spawns from one of the four 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass loaned to the selective-breeding program in 2020, the department’s hatchery staff produced more than 28,000 fingerlings to benefit Texas public waters.
“We are pleased with the number of ShareLunker offspring produced this year, and we couldn’t have done it without the anglers who generously loaned us their 13 pound and larger bass for our selective-breeding program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Coordinator. “This generosity doesn’t just increase the lunker potential of the lakes where those fish were caught, it also helps us in our effort to convert our entire hatchery broodstock to ShareLunker offspring, which will benefit every lake in Texas.”
This year, fingerlings were produced and stocked in the 2020 Legacy Class donation lakes – including Alan Henry, Nacogdoches, and O.H. Ivie. A portion is also being held back to further our hatcheries future broodfish creation so that TPWD can stock these big-bass offspring by the millions statewide in coming years. In addition, 14,203 advanced fingerlings (excess future broodfish from the 2019 Legacy Class Spawns) were stocked in 2020 into Gilmer reservoir, Lake Pflugerville, Kurth, Lake Tyler, ponds within the future footprint of Bois d’Ark Lake, and Murval.
One of the Legacy Class fish, from which there were two successful spawns, was donated to the program and will be a part of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center aquarium exhibits for visitors to enjoy. One fish did not spawn, but the angler has allowed TPWD to retain the fish in order to attempt to spawn it next spring. It will be returned to Lake Alan Henry at the conclusion of the spawning process. Unfortunately, two of this year’s Legacy Class donations perished due to extenuating circumstances. However, in the last five years, the program has achieved an excellent overall fish survival success rate of 86 percent during that time span.
The anglers who loaned TPWD a Legacy Class fish through the entry cutoff date of March 31 receive a large prize package. The package includes a replica of their fish, which is planned to be presented on stage at Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest in November, and entry into a separate $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree drawing.
Even though the donation season for Legacy Class fish has ended, anglers are still able to enter all largemouth bass eight pounds or larger through the end of the year to help expand catch data for fisheries biologists. As of July, 200 of these fish have been entered from 75 lakes across the state.
Anglers earn prize packages for each approved bass they enter throughout the year in all categories. This package includes a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise, an achievement decal, merchandise and other giveaways. In addition, anglers are entered in the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for an annual fishing license and $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree.
Anglers who reel in a bass eligible for the program can enter it using the Toyota ShareLunker app – available for free as a download from the Apple Store and Google Play – or by using a form online at https://texassharelunker.com/. Anglers can quickly and easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed, and held using the digital entry forms on both platforms. These forms also include simple instructions for anglers who would like to provide a sample of fish scales from their lunker bass to TPWD for genetic analysis.
“Anglers who enter catch data about their eight pound and larger bass are giving our fisheries management biologists important information about which lakes are producing big bass in Texas,” Brookshear said. “Sending a scale sample with your entry gives TPWD even more information to use in the management of our world-class bass fisheries because it provides us with valuable genetic data and helps us monitor the impact of stockings.”
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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
Additional support for the program is provided by prize donors Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Co., and Stanley jigs.