Texas
3:47 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

How Texans Can Make a 13 Pound Bass Live Forever

Did you know Texas has a program to propagate fish in the state’s lakes and reservoirs?

It’s called the Toyota ShareLunker program, and run by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF). (It’s sponsored by the car-maker, hence its inclusion in the name.)

While the program was launched in 1986, TPWF notes that it stretches back much further – coincidentally, to a time of drought much like today's:

The roots of the ShareLunker program can be traced to the drought of the 1950s. That 10-year dry spell brought home to Texans the fact that the state’s burgeoning population had outgrown its water supply. A few reservoirs had been built previously, but the 1960s and 1970s witnessed the completion of many more. Texas had only one natural lake — Caddo — and the native species of Texas bass, the northern, was adapted to live in streams.

Fish adapted to live in large lakes were needed to take advantage of the new reservoirs, and in 1971 TPWD brought the first Florida strain largemouth bass to Texas.

To that end, the ShareLunker program was created to breed bass. It even propagated its own breeding establishment, the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, outside of Athens, Texas.

Of course, no one’s ever bred a dead fish, so entries into the program must be held in water until they can be retrieved. Never fear though, as we’re told, “ShareLunker Coordinator David Campbell will travel anywhere in the state to retrieve a big bass.”

A new participant in the ShareLunker program was caught yesterday. Brett Ketchum snagged a 13 pound bass from Lake Austin, while angling in an Austin Bass Club of the Deaf tournament. He describes the moment thusly:

“She was a very good fighter. She jumped, I noticed she was big, but I kept fighting her, and when she got close and I saw her I thought, ‘Oh, it’s big!’ I was nervous because I saw only one treble hook in her, and I knew I could lose her in a second. But I stayed calm, let her fight until she was tired, then reeled her close to the boat. My partner Sammy Oates, Jr., netted her beautifully. He and my son Braden were shaking when I bought her in.”

It’s the third ShareLunker catch this season, and the 13th from the Austin area. According to records, the biggest local catch was this whopping 16 pound behemoth caught approximately a year ago.