Possum Kingdom Joins the 2023 Toyota ShareLunker Fold
ATHENS – Possum Kingdom recorded its first Legacy Class Lunker of the 2023 Toyota ShareLunker collection season on Sunday. Tony Lozipone of Iowa Park reeled in 13.14-pound ShareLunker 647, the 15th overall Legacy Class fish this season. Possum Kingdom joins O.H. Ivie, Lake Nacogdoches and Alan Henry on the list of ShareLunker lakes in 2023.
“Having Legacy Class ShareLunkers being produced at Possum Kingdom in back-to-back years is so rewarding after the reservoir rebounded from drought and golden alga blooms,” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “It is the relationship between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the anglers of Texas and our partners that help make these bigger, better bass in Texas.”
Lozipone began fishing as a young child and had a lifetime goal of catching a ShareLunker. The dream became a reality for him Sunday, recording a new personal best along with a tournament championship. Ironically, his previous personal best was a 10-plus pounder at Possum Kingdom last year.
“I was in about 40 feet of water and the fish was on a 15- to 18-foot ledge,” said Lozipone. “I made a perfect cast, which brought her off that ledge. I saw her come and eat the swimbait and it was just amazing. I called my dad to let him know.”
Lozipone couldn’t believe his eyes when he read the scale: more than 13 pounds.
“I started whooping and hollering because I accomplished a lifetime quest to catch a Legacy Lunker,” he said. “It was all a blur after that because I was so excited.”
Lozipone made a second call — to the ShareLunker program — to officially submit his catch.
“My experience with the ShareLunker program was great,” said Lozipone. “They immediately answered when I called and were there to get the fish within 30 minutes. TPWD staff weighed the fish and took really good care of it. There isn’t a better feeling than to know if you catch a fish that big it goes through this process. The whole ShareLunker program is awesome.”
Possum Kingdom is now back on the board after producing three Legacy Class fish during the historic run of 2022. Stephen Davis of Burkburnett and Randy Palmer of Arlington caught 13.20-pound ShareLunker 615 and 13.38-pound ShareLunker 616 on the same day, February 12, 2022. Montana Hand of Weatherford landed 13.06-pound ShareLunker 617 a few days later on February 18.
Lozipone’s fish is the sixth all-time Legacy Class entry from this lake; Scott Tongate’s ShareLunker 44 from October 13, 1989, still holds the water body record at 16.02 pounds. Don Allison owns Possum Kingdom’s other Legacy Lunker, thanks to 15.38-pound ShareLunker 80 on February 14, 1991.
During the first three months of the season (January through March), anglers who reel in a 13-plus 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 through March 31.
Anglers who catch and donate a 13-plus pound Lunker earn Legacy Class status, a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13-plus 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 from Lake Fork Taxidermy. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate contests — a Legacy Class drawing and the year-end Grand Prize drawing. First place in either wins a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and a resident (or non-resident) 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. In addition to Legacy Class (13-plus pounds between January and March), ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8-plus pounds), Elite Class (10-plus pounds), and Legend Class (13-plus pounds from April to December).
Anglers who enter data for any Lunker they catch (greater than eight pounds or 24 inches) during the calendar year 2023 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.
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 basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their Lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
A new procedure is in effect for the 2023 season. Legend Class ShareLunkers no longer need to be weighed on a certified scale for entry. Anglers must include a photo of their Lunker on a digital scale to qualify for Legend Class.
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 such as Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Company, Stanley Jigs and 6th Sense Fishing provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/, @texassharelunker on Instagram and online at TexasSharelunker.com.