Crank down now for double-digit bass

Blair Schwarz caught Toyota ShareLunker 559 from a private lake in Zapata County

The number of 13-pound-plus entries into the ShareLunker program is way off the usual mark but was jacked up a little with the catch of a 14.30-pounder that whacked a crank bait recently.

Blair Schwarz of McAllen caught Toyota ShareLunker 559 while fishing on a private lake in Zapata County. She was caught on a Jackall ASKA squarebill crank in about 6 feet of water.

“The fish is the 22nd entry into the ShareLunker program from private waters,” says Larry Hodge with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The first was ShareLunker 4, caught by Dan Berg of Hilltop Lakes in 1987. The largest entry from private waters weighed 15.74 pounds and was caught by Kenneth Morris in 1995. The second-largest private-waters entry was caught by Jesse Roberson of Goldthwaite, then 9 years old. That fish weighed 15.54 pounds.”

Schwarz’s fish is the largest entry of the season so far. It leads the race for Angler of the Year with a prize package that includes a G. Loomis rod and a Shimano reel. If a Texas resident catches the heaviest fish, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.

Just so you’ll know, anyone legally catching a 13-pound or heavier bass from Texas waters, public or private, between now and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

All 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.

“Some of the offspring produced by ShareLunkers are divided among the water bodies that produced entries during the current season. Others are used for research,” says Hodge.

ShareLunker catches can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the season by calling (903) 681-0550. Incase of poor cellphone service, you can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600. That number is also monitored 24/7 during the season.

Make your move now to save recreational red snapper

Management of Gulf of Mexico red snapper is a mess, and has utterly failed recreational anglers, according a recent report from the Coastal Conservation Association.

CCA says there will likely be more red snapper available in 2015 than any time in its history under federal management, but individual anglers won’t be allowed to share in the success. Instead, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council has approved Amendment 40 - Sector Separation, a scheme that is now before the Secretary of Commerce, awaiting her signature.

This is the last opportunity to make the case against privatization of our public marine resources, this time to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

Here’s the deal. Amendment 40 proposes to take almost half of the recreational quota of red snapper and reserve it solely for the charter/for-hire industry for its own use. It is the first step to enacting a catch share program for charter/for-hire operators, modeled on the ownership program for the commercial red snapper sector in which fewer than 400 individuals own 51 percent of the entire fishery.

CCE says this has been one of the most divisive and controversial measures ever undertaken by the Gulf Council. Because of that, CCA has opposed Amendment 40 since inception. The seven Council members who voted against it issued a scathing minority report. Public comment on Amendment 40 has run overwhelmingly against the idea of further privatization. The Council and NOAA have ignored it all.

Now is the time to take action. This is the last chance to stop privatization of public marine resources.

Go to, www.joincca.org/notoamendment40, and tell the secretary we need a fix for the entire recreational sector, not just a few, select individuals.

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