The 28th season of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker program will begin October 1.
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. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
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. If the Angler of the Year is a Texas resident, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.
Prizes and funding for the banquet are provided by Toyota, which also provides a Tundra pickup truck for use in picking up and returning the majority of lunkers and their offspring.
The numbers to call to report a ShareLunker catch remain the same. The voice number, which is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the season, is (903) 681-0550. If poor cell phone service prevents use of the voice number, anglers can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600. That number is also monitored 24/7 during the season.
Whether you expect to catch a ShareLunker or not, it’s a good idea to program those numbers into your phone before the season begins. Also, if you have a scale, check its accuracy. If you don’t have one, find a place near where you fish that has a certified scale and will weigh fish, such as a feed store, grocery store or bait shop. Official ShareLunker weigh and holding stations have been established at a number of reservoirs; a list is at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding/.
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, will be posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram. “Like” this page and you can receive notification and photos of catches as soon as they become available.
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.
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.
Logo courtesy Toyota