Sometimes it pays to go fishing on a Monday
It was Roy Euper’s lucky day. Monday, Nov. 2, 2015, he went fishing on Sam Rayburn and hooked up with a largemouth bass. He was fishing with a crankbait in 30 feet of water when a 13.2-pound bass inhaled the lure.
This was not just any fish. It was the bass of a lifetime and one that would be entered into the Texas Parks and Wildlife ShareLunker Program, one of only two entries in the 2015-16 ShareLunker season. So far this season, it’s been a slow go for anglers in the hunt for 13-pound-plus bass. But as we enter 2017, the next few months will more than likely produce more entries.
The No. 1 spot to be fishing for monster bass during winter and spring is, without a doubt, Lake Fork. It’s produced 257 entries into the ShareLunker program. The second best producers of monster-class bass are Sam Rayburn and Alan Henry – both with 26 each. Just in case you’re not familiar with Alan Henry, it’s 45 miles south of Lubbock. Behind Fork, Rayburn and Henry are the many private lakes scattered across Texas. They have produced 22 over the years. So if you can’t catch monster largemouths on public lakes, build your own trophy fishery.
The ShareLunker program has been instrumental in illustrating the importance of catch and release fishing in the development of trophy largemouth bass fisheries. Data collected by the program shows that it takes 8 to 10 years for a bass to grow to 13-pound size. Slot limits that protect large fish have proven effective in increasing the quality of fishing. Science-based fisheries management has been shown to be the best method for managing Texas public waters, according to TPWD.
Bass fishing has enjoyed an increase in popularity in Texas that parallels the increase in the number and quality of fish in Texas reservoirs. Communities near popular bass fishing lakes reap a significant economic boost from anglers. Case in point – Jasper.
Even the fish have benefited from the ShareLunker program. When the program began, little was known about the procedures needed to care for big bass. Early in the program, many entries died while at TPWD facilities. Over time, better care has increased survival to the point that nearly all fish entered into the program survive for spawning or are returned to the wild. Even more importantly, proper fish handling techniques have been publicized as part of the program, so that anglers are now able to take better care of any fish they catch.
Each angler who has a lunker accepted into the program receives a fiberglass replica of the fish from Lake Fork Taxidermy, ShareLunker clothing, and recognition at an annual awards banquet held at TFFC. In addition, the Texas resident catching the largest entry of the season is awarded a lifetime fishing license.
Here’s how it all works:
• The program is limited to largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more.
• The fish must be legally caught in Texas waters.
• Entries are accepted Oct. 1 through April 30. Bass caught January through March may be transported to the hatchery for spawning. Entries caught during the remainder of the season will be evaluated on site and returned to the angler.
• Call TPWD as soon as possible with your name, where the fish is located, a telephone number where you can be reached and when and where you caught the fish. Be sure to include your area code when leaving a message on the pager. A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department representative will respond within 12 hours.
If your bass meets the requirements, call (903) 681-0550.