Possum Kingdom Delivers First Two February ShareLunkers

Possum Kingdom Delivers First Two February ShareLunkers

ATHENS – Possum Kingdom claimed the first two Legacy Class largemouth bass of the month Saturday, February 12. Steven Davis of Burkburnett, Texas reeled in ShareLunker 615 that morning, which weighed in at 13.20 pounds, followed by Randy Palmer of Arlington, Texas with 13.38-pound ShareLunker 616 later that night. These two Legacy Lunkers bring the 2022 Toyota ShareLunker season total to eight after six came in during the opening month of January.

Saturday’s catches were monumental for Possum Kingdom with ShareLunker 615 becoming the waterbody’s first Legacy Class fish since 1991 and fourth overall when ShareLunker 616 capped the day. Don Allison of Amarillo, Texas caught 15.38-pound ShareLunker 80 on February 14, 1991, nearly 31 years ago to the day of Davis’ and Palmers’ Legacy fish. Scott Tongate of Bedford, Texas collected the first ever Legacy Lunker at Possum Kingdom on October 13, 1989, when he landed the 16.02-pound ShareLunker 44.

“This is an extra special moment for Possum Kingdom and the local community which has had to contend with Golden Alga and drought,” said Inland Fisheries Division Outreach Director Tom Lang. “The Wichita Falls District Fisheries Management Team in partnership with the Brazos River Authority and local Friends of Reservoirs Chapters (Hells Gate Bass Club and Mineral Wells Bass Club) worked diligently for years to enhance fisheries habitat to help make better fishing and create once-in-a-lifetime moments like these two anglers experienced.”

Davis was competing in a tournament Saturday along with his fishing partner Justin Jones. They had been preparing for the tournament by pre-fishing the lake starting in December. They had found some good spots during the scouting, but none of them had paid off until Saturday morning.

“My fishing partner Justin Jones said there is a spot over here where we’ve caught fish before and my response was, ‘I haven’t caught a fish there all year,’” said Davis. “We decided to go over there anyway and within two casts I caught an 8.5-pounder. We made it 500 yards down the bank again and I sent out another cast parallel on the bank. I got a bite, set the hook, and my initial thought was I caught a striper since we have caught a lot of those in this lake.

“It battled and reacted just like a striper would, so I backed the drag off and let it run,” added Davis. “It eventually came to the top of the water, and I told Jones it’s a double digit. We had the boat out in 60-80 feet of water, and it took six or seven minutes to get her into the net. That’s when it all set in that I was going to have the big fish of the tournament.”

Davis was using a Strike King 375 white swimbait on a Pride rod and a Lew’s fishing reel to bring in his catch of a lifetime. Davis’ previous personal best was a 9.25-pounder. Saturday’s Legacy Lunker also helped Davis and Jones secure a tournament victory.

“The Toyota ShareLunker program and the process to transfer the fish that day was amazing,” said Davis. “The initial setup site to make the transfer was a lengthy distance away in addition to a strong wind. When we let them know our location on the lake, TPWD personnel quickly adjusted the site to another boat ramp five minutes away from where we were to help shorten the transfer time and enhance fish care. A huge thank you to TPWD Fisheries personnel, you couldn’t ask for better people.”

Palmer has been fishing since a very young age, whether it be camping on the banks and running trot lines as a child to junior high school and high school weekend bass fishing. Palmer has been able to catch three fish over 10-pounds to this point, but Saturday, February 12 produced the catch of a lifetime.

“I’m truly blessed to have been taught to target and catch big bass,” said Palmer. “Don’t get me wrong, smashing them all day is fun but there is nothing like a big bass bite! I knew big ones lived there so you are always ready for the ‘one’ bite. I initially thought it was a 2- to 3-pounder, but when I set the hook on the jig, I knew I had an opportunity for something great. When I could not move her and all I could feel was slow heavy head shakes, time truly stood still.

“I fought her all the way to the boat before I saw her and then it was shark week with a great white mouth explosion,” added Palmer. “She was too big to jump all the way out of the water and all I could see was my jig in the top of her mouth. My buddy Mark Broadway was getting the net and she made a few more hard runs and thrashed the surface several more times before Broad got her in the net. As soon as he picked her up out of the water, he was screaming it’s a Lunker!”

Palmer said fishing is about relationships you make along the journey and when word got out that he reeled in a Lunker, all the people he had the pleasure of fishing with over the years reached out with an “attaboy”. Now that Palmer has a Legacy Lunker to his credit, his wish is for Mark to reel in one of his own. Palmer recalled one of the moments that got him hooked on bass fishing.

“The Toyota ShareLunker program made it to where a regular bass fisherman could grab a moment in the spotlight,” said Palmer. “I never thought I could stand in that light, but so thankful that I get to have a life changing experience through the ShareLunker program.”

Once Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries biologists were notified, they quickly got on the road to collect and transport ShareLunker 615 and 616 to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where biologists are providing the fish top-notch care. Biologists plan to attempt to spawn her with a male offspring of a prior ShareLunker to make bigger, better bass to stock in and enhance fishing in Texas lakes.

During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13+ pound bass can loan it to TPWD for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers can call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 until April 1.

Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13+ lunkers earn Legacy Class status, receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13+ pound Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica mount of their Lunker fish from Lake Fork Taxidermy. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate drawings – a Legacy Class Drawing and the year-end Grand Prize Drawing. Both drawings will award the winner a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.

The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas. The 2022 season offers an opportunity to join the special club of premier anglers who have submitted a Legacy Class ShareLunker.

Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than eight pounds or 24 inches during the calendar year 2022 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license. ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8lb+), Elite Class (10lb+), and Legend Class (13lb+).

Once a lunker is reeled in, anglers need to enter the catch data on the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app – available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play – or on the Toyota ShareLunker online app at TexasSharelunker.com. In addition to providing basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.

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 TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.

Prize donors including Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Co., Stanley Jigs and Sixth Sense Lures also provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/ or TexasSharelunker.com.

For pictures of the Legacy Class ShareLunker’s caught during the 2022 season, visit the TPWD Flickr album at https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzxNwz.