Once again an angler has proved it’s not the size of the lake that counts, it’s the size of the fish in the lake—at least when it comes to catching big bass.
On the morning of March 19 Johnny Spruiell of Iowa Park was fishing in three feet of water in South East Cove on Lake Amon G. Carter when a 13.75-pound bass took his 7-inch Power Worm. The fish was 26.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth and is now Toyota ShareLunker 546.
Lake Amon G. Carter is operated by the City of Bowie. The 1,848-acre lake is served by two boat ramps. It has a history of producing big bass in mid-March. The lake record, a 14.44-pounder, was caught March 15, 1996. On March 13, 1998, it produced ShareLunker 272, a 14.31-pounder.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department stocked Lake Amon G. Carter with both northern largemouth bass and Florida largemouth bass beginning in 1971. Since 1985 all stockings have been Florida largemouth bass; most recently in 2000 and 2001.
“The reservoir boasts quality habitat in the form of rocky shoreline and boulders, native emergent vegetation and standing dead timber,” said TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Todd Robinson. “The reservoir also sports a robust prey base of threadfin shad and bluegill. Food, cover, water, and space, all suitably arranged, provide most fish and wildlife what is required for a healthy population, and the Florida largemouth bass fingerlings stocked in 2000 and 2001 are now reaching the age where they can achieve ShareLunker size.”
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.
The person who catches the season’s largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis. The package includes a G. Loomis GLX854C jig and worm rod, a Shimano Chronarch 200E7 casting reel and a spool of Power Pro super-braid fishing line. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license. The current leader in the race for Angler of the Year is Richard Scibek of Granbury, who caught a 16.04-pounder from Lake Fork February 2.
So far there have been nine entries into the ShareLunker program during the current season. March typically produces the majority of the entries as fish move shallow to spawn and become more vulnerable to angling.
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 www.tpwd.state.tx.us/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.
Image courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department