One-Day Avalanche of Texas ShareLunkers
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you probably know that the southern latitudes have been under assault the last few weeks from both Jack Frost and Old Man Winter.
From near single-digit readings at the Bassmaster Classic to multi-inch snowfalls in the South to four winter storms in Texas in less than two weeks, it would almost seem as if Disney's snow queen Elsa is conspiring to take up permanent residence south of Interstate 40.
All of which has left more than a few bass anglers grumbling about the recent run of rotten weather luck, just as the March full moon arrived with the hope of the year's first big wave of spawning largemouth bass moving towards the shoreline.
But on Saturday, that luck changed – in Texas at least – and then some as three ShareLunker largemouth bass (bass that weigh 13 pounds or better and are donated to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for spawning purposes) were caught on two different Lone Star State lakes.
And that doesn't even count a near-miss fish caught on another lake not far from TPWD's ShareLunker headquarters at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
The biggest fish of the day – and the biggest bass caught in Texas so far this ShareLunker season (October through April) – is a now pending lake record at Ray Roberts Lake near Denton, Texas, the site of the Major League Fishing 2014 Challenge Cup won by Kelly Jordon.
On Saturday, as sunshine melted all remaining snow and caused temperatures to finally soar well into the 50s for the first time in days, Shannon Lee Elvington of nearby Pilot Point, Texas, used the spring-like weather to his advantage when he landed a 15.18-pound bass while fishing with Ray Roberts guide Dannie Golden.
Fishing the 45-degree water on the 25,600-acre reservoir's east side with Golden, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department news release reports that the huge largemouth engulfed a jerkbait that Elvington was cranking in around 10:40 a.m.
The behemoth was landed successfully and easily bests the current lake record (a 14.59-pound bass caught by Jerry Rogers in 2000) and is only 3 ounces shy of being one of the 50 biggest bass ever caught in Texas. The Elvington bass – the 560th fish in the ShareLunker program's history – measured 26.25 inches in length and 21.5 inches in girth.
As the bass fishing community in Texas began to spread the news via the TexasFishingForum.com website and by way of social media, the catch of Lone Star State lunkers on Saturday had only just begun.
That's because not one, but two ShareLunkers also were landed on Saturday afternoon, this time at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, the 114,500-acre mammoth East Texas fishing gem.
Wayman Triana of Nacogdoches, Texas, got the big bass excitement going at Big Sam when he caught ShareLunker #561 during a Bass Champs tournament. According to TPWD, the 13.05-pound fish – which Triana caught at 1:30 p.m. in 15 feet of water while reeling in a crankbait – was 25.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth.
Wayman Triana of Nacogdoches caught Toyota ShareLunker 561 from Sam Rayburn Reservoir March 7. The fish weighed 13.05 pounds and was 25.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth. (Reese Sparrow, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
Later that afternoon as the sun was going down, Darrell Tompkins of Huffman, Texas, landed Sam Rayburn's second ShareLunker of the day while tossing a spinnerbait in shallow water. The 562nd fish in program history, TPWD reports that the fish weighed 14.32 pounds, was 26.25 inches long and measured 22.25 inches in girth.
Those two sowbellies from Sam Rayburn this past Saturday pushed the famous Pineywoods bass lake into a tie for second place among Texas lakes for producing the most ShareLunkers since the program began in the fall of 1986. East Texas lunker factory Lake Fork remains the ShareLunker king with 257 entries, while Sam Rayburn, Alan Henry and O.H. Ivie have each produced 25 such bass.
Darrell Tompkins of Huffman caught Toyota ShareLunker 562 from Sam Rayburn Reservoir March 7. The fish weighed 14.32 pounds and was 26.25 inches long and 22.25 inches in girth. (Reese Sparrow, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)
As great as the three-ShareLunker day was this past Saturday, it was almost one fish better thanks to a 12.94-pound largemouth landed at Lake Athens by Mineral Wells, Texas, angler Robert Adams.
Amazingly enough, the near ShareLunker fish at Lake Athens actually was a ShareLunker bass a year ago according to TPWD. The fish, which had a ShareLunker tag implanted, was landed on January 25, 2014 by Athens, Texas, angler Frank Kirk.
At the time of Kirk's catch of the fish last year, the bass weighed 13.67 pounds. After the bass successfully spawned at the nearby Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, the fish was released by Kirk alive and well back into Lake Athens on May 5, 2014.Meaning that Saturday's catch of the same bass by Robert Adams is continued proof that proper handling and good catch-and-release tactics for big fish does indeed work.
And that winter, as fierce as it has been in recent weeks, can't last forever, especially deep in the heart of big bass country.