Texas-Rigged: Lake Fork Double-Digit Bass Run Continues

Just one week after a huge Lake Fork bass set the Texas bass fishing world abuzz, the East Texas lunker factory does it again and again with two more entries into the state ShareLunker program

Texas-Rigged: Lake Fork Double-Digit Bass Run Continues
Louisiana angler Michael Terrebonne shows off the second Legacy Class entry from Lake Fork into the newly revamped TPWD ShareLunker program. The 13.0-pound bass was caught on Thursday, March 8, 2018, one week to the day after another huge SL bass was pulled from the East Texas reservoir. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Brookshear/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)

It's March Madness time in Texas! Bass-fishing style, that is!

Sunday, March 11, 2018 was a day college basketball fans around the country live for — the annual selection of the NCAA teams to play in March Madness.

In Texas, the term March Madness means something else right now, since East Texas' big-bass factory Lake Fork is on a sizzling run not seen in years.

On Thursday, March 8, 2018, exactly one week to the day after Greenville, Texas, angler John LaBove landed a 15.48-pounder at Lake Fork that easily qualified in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's ShareLunker program.


Anglers have four different ShareLunker categories to consider: Lunker Class (bass weighing at least 8 pounds or measuring 24 inches); Lunker Elite Class (weighing 10 pounds or more); Lunker Legend Class (13-pound or better largemouth that is released); and the Lunker Legacy Class (13-pound or better largemouth bass between Jan. 1 and March 31 loaned to TPWD for its selective breeding program).


While on an annual family trip to Lake Fork, angler Michael Terrebonne, of Cut Off, La., landed his own 13-pound ShareLunker trophy.

But the 27,690-acre Fork wasn't done as Alex Finch got into the ShareLunker act on Sunday, March 11, 2018, landing a 13.06-pound Legacy Lunker, the third such fish in only a nine-day span.

"This was one thing in my lifetime I said I wanted to do – catch a ShareLunker," said Finch, of North Richland Hills, in a TPWD news release. "I've accomplished a lot in the sport of fishing and I've caught a lot of big bass by most people's standards, but I've never put one on the scale and had it read like that. My initial reaction was like finally!"

Alex Finch shows off the third Legacy Class entry from Lake Fork in a nine day stretch. His 13.06-pound ShareLunker was landed on Sunday, March 11, 2018 at the East Texas reservoir. (Photo courtesy of Kyle Brookshear/Texas Parks and Wildlife Department)


Using a self-made bait – the Finch Nasty Thumper Gizzard Shad – Finch said it was a no-brainer to donate the bass to the ShareLunker program, something he credits with helping to make bass fishing in Texas "…better than it is in any other state."

It's obvious that includes Lake Fork.

"I've been fishing at Lake Fork for five years and I've seen it cycle," said Finch. "Last year we really started to see the population of fish coming back. We knew there were going to be some big fish caught here this year, but we had no idea we would be seeing three ShareLunkers in nine days – that's incredible."


While details on Finch's March 11 big bass catch are few at the moment, there is a little bit more known about the Terrebonne big bass from March 8.

p>"We come to Lake Fork every year – it's our favorite place to fish," said Terrebonne in a TPWD news release. "We've talked about catching a ShareLunker before but we never imaged we would catch one that big. I still can't believe I did it, when you actually catch one it's such a shock."

Terrebonne's lunker largemouth came in six feet of water, and only a few days after the Louisiana man had pulled a 9-pounder from Fork.

"I didn't realize how big the fish was until it turned sideways and I realized it was huge," said Terrebonne of his ShareLunker, which happened to be the 573rd such bass in Texas history and the 260th such largemouth pulled from Fork.

"Everyone was so excited and yelling 'Get the net! Get the net!' When we got her onto the boat and saw how big she was and so full of eggs I know I definitely wanted to donate her to the ShareLunker program for spawning."

After being weighed and held at a local marina, the bass was obtained by TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists, who then transported the largemouth to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Now in the TFFC's so-called "Lunker Bunker," the Terrebonne bass is being monitored and cared for by hatchery staff as the fish prepares for spawning.

"We are very grateful that Mr. Terrebonne decided to loan this impressive fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program," said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator, in the news release.

"Growing bigger, better bass for future generations depends on us being able to selectively breed the state's biggest fish, and we couldn't do it without anglers like Mr. Terrebonne loaning their catches to us."

Over the years, Fork has been particularly kind to the ShareLunker program, now producing 260 bass (as of March 11, 2018) that have weighed 13 pounds or better. Crunch the numbers and that's nearly 50 percent of the program's 573 total entries.

That impressive Lake Fork ShareLunker list includes the current state record (Barry St. Clair's 18.18-pounder caught in Jan. 1992) and the former state record (Mark Stevenson's 17.67-pounder, a bass dubbed Ethel after it was caught in Nov. 1986).

Fork has also dominated the overall largemouth bass record book, producing the top six bass in Lone Star State angling history along with seven of the state's Top 10, 16 of the state's Top 25, and 30 of the state's Top 50.

A little more number-crunching reveals that of Fork's 260 official ShareLunkers, those fish have been caught by anglers from 84 different communities scattered across the vast Lone Star State.

What's more, in addition to the anglers from Texas, Fork ShareLunkers have been caught by anglers from 16 other states: Oklahoma (18 ShareLunker anglers), Louisiana (15), Missouri (8), Arkansas (3), Illinois (3), Kentucky (2), Wisconsin (2), Alabama (1), California (1), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), and West Virginia (1).

When you consider how many anglers have been lured to Fork – from virtually every state in the nation and a number of countries around the world - without catching a ShareLunker, the local economic impact is profound. Just ask the hotel owners, restaurant operators, gasoline dealers, grocers, and bait shop proprietors in such nearby communities as Alba, Emory, Quitman, Winnsboro, and Yantis to name a few.

What makes the sprawling reservoir in Hopkins, Rains, and Wood counties so prolific for big bass?

"We get asked a lot about what it was about Fork that made it so special," said TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist and district supervisor Kevin Storey, the man who has overseen the big bass lake since the late 1990s.

"Other states have often wanted to replicate Fork and they'll ask, 'What can we do?' Well, I think all of the right factors were in place at the right time on Fork."

Storey noted it's easy to speculate about what those factors might have been, such as the great amount of standing timber left in the lakebed, fertility of the watershed, the hydrilla and vegetation present for a number of years, pre-stocking of ponds in the lakebed, tremendous forage base, long imposed 16- to 24-inch slot limit, catch-and-release ethic that is embraced with almost religious fervor, etc.

"In my mind, all of those things and more were a bit serendipitous," said Storey. "They all happened to take place at the right time and we ended up with a very dynamic lake."

The numbers bear that idea out, even if those numbers have slipped from Fork's heyday in the late 1980s and 1990s when two state records and a whole lot of state-recognized bass were caught. In recent years, as Fork continues to move farther away from its impoundment date back in 1980, ShareLunker numbers haven't been as strong and no bass anywhere near the St. Clair state benchmark has been caught.

"It's not what it once was, but it's still world-class," said Storey. "I'd still put it high on any list for potential fishing destinations for someone to go to if they want to catch a big bass."

And with plenty of 7- to 10-pound plus bass still being caught by anglers – along with a 15.48-pounder and two 13-pounders in the past nine days – Storey isn't convinced that Fork's "Stop the presses!" kind of glory days are completely behind the state's best-known bass fishing gem just yet.

"I don't know, I keep hoping that someone will stumble onto one that is at the upper end (of the big bass spectrum)," he said. "I still believe that chance is out there.

"I would love to see another state record come out of Fork, or something that even approaches that."

With the recent fireworks from the East Texas lunker factory, stay tuned.

Because Fork is on fire and the best big bass fishing action of the year is underway and should last for another few weeks in East Texas.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Costa

Costa's Award Winning Waterwoman Sunglasses

Costa's Amanda Sabin tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead about all of the great features that made the new Waterwoman frame a big winner at the 2019 ICAST show as well as out on the water.

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

MLF Pro Tips: Go-To Baits for the Spawn

Major League Fishing pros talk about the first lure they choose when targeting spawning bass.

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

BPT Points Champ Edwin Evers Talks New Berkley Baits

After making the switch to Berkley products heading into the inaugural BPT season, Edwin Evers tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead why Berkley baits played such a key role in his recent angling success.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options. Catfish

12 Great Catfish Baits

Jeff Samsel

Dozens of different bait types are commonly used for catfish, including these great options.

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the Garden State's hottest bass fishing. Destinations

7 Best Bets for New Jersey Bass

J.B. Kasper - October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find the...

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a species Catfish

10 Biggest Catfish World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - December 08, 2014

Unless you live in Antarctica, the only continent they aren't known to inhabit, there is a...

See More Trending Articles

More Bass

New research can guide, and perhaps simplify, your lure-color selection for bass fishing. Bass

What Colors Do Bass See?

Dr. Jason Halfen - February 19, 2020

New research can guide, and perhaps simplify, your lure-color selection for bass fishing.

Tailor tactics to bass behavior and you'll catch more fish during the spawn. Bass

Spring Fling: Strategies for Spawning Bass

Larry Larsen - April 01, 2020

Tailor tactics to bass behavior and you'll catch more fish during the spawn.

Around the spawn is the best time of year to boat big bass. Follow these tactics for finding monsters. Bass

Target Trophy Spring Bass: Here's How

Larry Larsen - March 25, 2020

Around the spawn is the best time of year to boat big bass. Follow these tactics for finding...

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn discusses spinnerbaits from top to bottom in this episode of Beyond the Bait Powered by Streamlight. Beyond the Bait

Master the Spinnerbait to Catch More Bass

Game & Fish Digital Staff

Dr. Todd A. Kuhn discusses spinnerbaits from top to bottom in this episode of Beyond the Bait...

See More Bass

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.