Odd twist at end of lunker season

Allen Kruse

The 2013 season on ShareLunker bass weighing 13 pounds or more is nearing an end, but not without at least one more very interesting twist.

So far this season, the average weight of the entries is 13.85 pounds, and the heaviest entry weighed 16.04. Two 14-pounders and one 15-pounder have also been entered. Since the beginning of the ShareLunker program, Lake Fork has produced 253 entries; Lakes Alan Henry and O.H. Ivie, 25 each; Sam Rayburn, 23; and Falcon, 20. Lake Austin, possibly the hottest big bass fishing lake in Texas, has produced 19 entries into the program. Lake Conroe has 16 entries and Choke Canyon, 13.

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, through 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.

The latest near miss into the ShareLunker program is from a new lake near Nacogdoches called Naconiche. A previous entry in the lunker program that was caught on Falcon is the mother of the Naconiche catch. Here’s how it all played out.

“On Dec. 4, 2004, Jerry Campos was fishing for largemouth bass on Falcon International Reservoir when he caught a 14.28-pound fish that became ShareLunker 370,” said Larry Hodge with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “On April 13, 2013, Allen Kruse of Nacogdoches caught a 12.54-pound bass from Lake Naconiche that has been submitted as a water-body and catch-and-release record for the new impoundment near Nacogdoches.”

The connection is DNA proven.

“DNA testing revealed that ShareLunker 370, which spawned at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, is the mother of the Lake Naconiche fish,” said Hodge. “If Campos had not entered his fish into the ShareLunker program, Kruse would not have had the opportunity to catch his fish, because it would not have existed.”

“This is the perfect example of why the ShareLunker program was established,” said Allen Forshage, director of TFFC. “It’s called ShareLunker because the program gives anglers the opportunity to share their catch with others. Fingerlings from ShareLunkers that spawned have been stocked into more than 60 reservoirs across Texas.”

The father of the Lake Naconiche fish has deep roots in the ShareLunker program, as well, according to TPWD data. But it’s kind of confusing as to how it all comes together. Genetic data showed its mother is ShareLunker 305 (caught by Nathan Strickland from Lake Fork in 2000), and pedigree data showed its grandmother is ShareLunker 184 (caught by Richard Crow from Lake Fork in 1994), and its great-grandmother is ShareLunker 9 (caught by Troy Johnson from Gibbons Creek in 1988).

“ShareLunker 370 produced 12,699 fingerlings, some of which were held at TFFC as possible future brood fish,” said Hodge. “The Kruse fish was one of 173 adult ShareLunker offspring that were released into Lake Naconiche in 2009 along with 95,389 ShareLunker fingerlings. The adult fish are now eight years old and are on the threshold of being old enough to attain the 13-pound size necessary to be entered into the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“While the paternal lineage leading to the Kruse fish was composed solely of non-introgressed Florida largemouth bass, the maternal lineage was introgressed with northern largemouth bass alleles. Typically, ShareLunkers that are pure Florida largemouth bass are preferentially spawned in the ShareLunker program, given their greater likelihood of reaching large sizes (more than 15 times as likely as a hybrid to reach 13 pounds); however, exceptions are made, and this was the offspring of one of those exceptions.”

Hodge points out that Lake Naconiche is poised to produce big bass for years to come. And that’s a good reason to put this Pineywoods lake on your list of go-to water for next spring.


Robert Sloan can be reached by e-mail at sloan288 [at] aol [dot] com.