Future Lunkers

The Toyota ShareLunker spawning season produced a record number of fingerlings for stocking into lakes that contributed fish to the program, and those fish now swim in the lakes where they will grow up to thrill future anglers.

A total of 171,265 fingerlings were stocked into the six lakes that produced ShareLunkers (13-pound or bigger largemouth bass) during the season that ended April 30. Each lake that produced one or more ShareLunkers received fingerlings.

The number of fingerlings stocked into each lake was as follows: Lake Austin-3,913; Lake Fork-39,872; Caddo Lake-32,037; O.H. Ivie Reservoir-34,064; Lake Gilmer-30,891; and Falcon International Reservoir-30,488.

"Each lake was originally scheduled to receive about 3,500 fingerlings," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologist Juan Martinez. "We wound up producing many more fingerlings than expected due to very good survival in the ponds. At the time Lake Austin was stocked, we only had one pond ready for harvest. When the other ponds were harvested later, we divided those fish among the other five lakes, partly because the Lake Austin fish were much bigger. Bigger fingerlings survive better, so fewer fish were needed for Lake Austin."

Martinez added that the size difference among the fingerlings was due to differing stocking densities in the rearing ponds. The Lake Austin fish were stocked at a lower density and therefore grew bigger, faster than the fingerlings in the other ponds.

TPWD has now stocked at least 1 million ShareLunker offspring into Texas reservoirs.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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