AUSTIN – Anglers across the state entered 340 lunker bass greater than 8 pounds in the Toyota ShareLunker program from 86 lakes during the 2020 season, which wrapped up Dec. 31. In addition to helping produce bigger, better bass for Texas lakes, anglers who enter their big bass catches in the program receive special recognition and prizes, including an entry into a year-end drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
“We are excited to announce that after wrapping up another great year of data collection in the Toyota ShareLunker program, angler Roy Saunders of Abilene was randomly selected from the 2020 entries to win the coveted year-end $5,000 shopping spree to Bass Pro Shops,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “We want to remind anglers that every certified ShareLunker entry will earn you a chance of winning this drawing along with many other great prizes in 2021, so be sure to download the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app and get fishing.”
Saunders reeled in an Elite Class Lunker on Feb. 16, 2020 on Kirby Lake, making him eligible for entry into the drawing. The fish checked in at a weight of 10.22 pounds with a length of 23.25 inches. It’s the largest bass Saunders has ever caught and it’s also his first entry into the ShareLunker program.
“We went out tube fishing on Kirby Lake and I was catching some small bass to start off the day,” said Saunders. “Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some bullrush movement and knew there had to be something out there. I headed that direction and dropped in a green/orange crawdad bait and the fish bought it. I scooped the fish up in my net and it turned out to be the largest bass I’ve ever reeled in. When we go fishing, we catch anything and everything we can. We don’t usually go out targeting one specific fish, we just want to catch fish.”
“It was exciting to get the call that I had won the drawing from Kyle [Brookshear] and have the chance to participate in this great program,” added Saunders. “To the young anglers, my advice is to get out there on the water and do your best, because it will pay off.”
“All anglers participating in the ShareLunker program, like Roy, play a vital citizen scientist role in helping manage Texas’ world class fisheries for current and future anglers,” added Brookshear. “When these anglers provide the catch and genetic data from their Lunkers throughout the year, it supplements the intensive sampling data collected by our fisheries biologists. Ultimately the additional data better enables our biologists to make even better management decisions for Texas’ fisheries, and that is a win for everyone.”
Once a lunker is reeled in, anglers need to enter the catch data and appropriate photos 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 year-round and offers four levels of participation for bass over 8 pounds caught in Texas. In 2020, anglers entered 4 Legacy Class bass over 13 pounds and loaned them to TPWD for the selective breeding and stocking program during the spawning window Jan. 1 through Mar. 31. Anglers tallied 3 additional Legend Class bass over 13 pounds that were caught outside the spawning window. 84 Elite Class bass weighing 10 to 12.99 pounds and 249 Lunker Class bass weighing between 8 and 9.99 pounds or at least 24 inches.
The top five ShareLunker producing lakes in 2020 included: Lake Fork with 60 entries, Lake Conroe with 20 entries, the Brazos River with 16 entries, Sam Rayburn Reservoir with 15 entries, and Falcon Lake and Lake Athens tied with 10 entries each. To see how your favorite fishing location fared in 2020 or how the fishing is so far in 2021, visit the archives at TexasShareLunker.com.
The 2021 season is off to a hot start with four Legacy Class Lunkers being reeled in during the month of January. Anglers who catch a 13+ pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program through the end of March. 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+).
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.