AUSTIN – Lake Leon near Abilene produced the fifth and final Toyota Sharelunker “Legacy Class” entry over 13 pounds during the final weekend of the 2019 donation season March 29.
Angler Brad Scott of Gun Barrel City caught the lunker bass on a plastic worm in 4 feet of water. After a certified scale weighed the fish at exactly 13.00 pounds – the absolute minimum requirement for a “Legacy Class” ShareLunker entry – Scott said he then realized just how significant the catch was. ShareLunker 581 is not just the first “Legacy Class” lunker ever entered in the Toyota ShareLunker program from Lake Leon, it is also the new pending water body record for the lake, beating the current 12.90 pound record set in 2013.
“I was going bananas, I couldn’t concentrate on anything,” Scott said. “Ever since the program started I’ve been dreaming of catching a ShareLunker. I knew the program was special, but when you’re on the angler side it’s just a really cool experience.”
Growing up in nearby Eastland, Scott said he learned how to fish on Lake Leon and even has a picture of himself at three years old holding up a stringer of fish from the lake. Although ShareLunker 581 is his most recent significant catch on the West Texas lake, it’s not his first.
“That lake is actually where I met my wife, Mandy,” Scott said. “On our first date we went out on my boat on Lake Leon, and we actually got married there too. That lake has been a huge part of my life.”
His wife, Mandy Scott, happens to be the director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, which is home to the Toyota ShareLunker Program. His fish now resides there in the “lunker bunker” where she is being cared for by staff in preparation for the selective breeding program’s spawning season.
Scott said despite fishing the lake at least twice a year with family and friends, he never expected to catch a ShareLunker out of it. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Fisheries Biologist Michael Homer, who certified the fish and manages all of the Abilene-area lakes, said he was pretty surprised, too.
“This is the first time a “Legacy Class” ShareLunker has been caught in the Abilene District since I’ve been here…It was very exciting,” Homer said. “We are always proud to see ShareLunkers coming out of West Texas. When we have optimal water levels in our reservoirs, the fishing can be just as competitive out here as it is in East Texas, if not better.”
ShareLunker 581 was the fifth and final entry of the Toyota ShareLunker “Legacy Class” donation season that ended March 31. The other “Legacy Class” entries caught from public water in Texas this year include ShareLunker 580, a 13.36 pound bass caught by angler Cole Turner from Lake Conroe on March 9; ShareLunker 579, a 13.73 pound bass caught by angler Barry Prince from Lake Fork on March 8; and ShareLunker 577, a 14.57 pound bass caught by angler Zach Sypert from Marine Creek Lake Jan. 27. ShareLunker 578, a 13.79 pound bass caught by pro-angler Gary Klein from a private TPWD research lake Feb. 8, was accepted as a donation for the selective breeding program but is not eligible for the prize package because it was a private water entry.
Every angler who loaned a 13 pound or larger “Legacy Class” bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy Class decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the “Legacy Class” Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period. TPWD will officially announce the drawing winner at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest at Lake Fork May 2-5.
Although the “Legacy Class” donation season has ended, anglers can still enter their 8 pound or larger largemouth bass catches into the Toyota ShareLunker Program through Dec. 31. Entries can be made online or through a free app available to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Each angler who enters an 8 pound or 24 inches and larger lunker bass on the mobile app or website will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Anglers will also receive a vehicle decal to display their achievement – “Lunker” class for bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches, “Elite” class for bass 10 to 12.99 pounds, and “Legend” class for bass at least 13 pounds.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
Prize donors Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy and American Fishing Tackle Co. also provide additional support for this program.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, visit https://www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram or https://texassharelunker.com/.
To view or download photos of all of the “Legacy Class” ShareLunkers caught during the 2019 season, visit the TPWD Flickr here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmzN8u9B.