ATHENS – Sam Rayburn Reservoir and O.H. Ivie Lake closed out another incredible Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) 2022 Toyota ShareLunker collection season with two more additions in the final week of March. These latest Legacy Lunkers bring the season total to 24, the most during a January through March timeframe since 1995 (27).
Sam Rayburn got on the board for the second time Thursday afternoon when Angler Erik Peveto of Buna, Texas landed 13.82-pound ShareLunker 631. O.H. Ivie followed suit Monday when Stephen Toler of Abilene, Texas reeled in 13.28-pound ShareLunker 632, giving the fishery 12 Legacy fish in 2022 and 24 combined over the last two collection seasons.
Jay Calvert of Coldspring, Texas reeled in Sam Rayburn’s first Legacy Lunker of 2022 earlier this month with 14.34-pound ShareLunker 626. In 2021, Sam Rayburn also delivered two Legacy Lunkers thanks to angler Travis Moore, with 13.44-pound ShareLunker 586, and Derek Mundy, with 13.62-pound ShareLunker 588. Both catches occurred during January.
Meanwhile, O.H. Ivie’s magical run continued in 2022, with the lake producing the first two fish of the collection season and five total in January. O.H. Ivie added three more in February, including 17.06-pound ShareLunker 620 — a pending lake record and the largest fish of not only the collection season, but the past 30 years in Texas. The lake capped the year with four fish in March, including the first of the month and the final Legacy of 2022.
Anglers submitting Legacy Class Lunkers will 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. 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.
“We are tremendously grateful for another banner Legacy Class collection season,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Manager. “We documented multiple new lake records and multiple Texas Top 50 entries, including a top 10 that was the largest largemouth bass recorded in 30 years. This level of success would not be possible without the strong partnership between the agency, anglers, and industry partners that invest time and resources into the Toyota ShareLunker Program.”
Peveto headed out to Sam Rayburn with his wife Ann and two-year old daughter Breann for an afternoon of fishing. They weren’t getting any bites for the previous hour and a half, but success proved to be just around the corner. Peveto changed the bait to a Senko, cast up near a bush and felt the bite. He put a little pressure on the line and the fish let it go, but after a few moments he felt it pick up again.
“I applied a little pressure again and it felt like the fish had it this time,” Peveto said. “Initially I thought it was a male that was just playing with the bait, but then when I set the hook, I told my wife this is a big fish and bring our daughter up here. The fish began running with it and I helped Breann hold the rod and let her reel in the fish. I was watching Breann and helping her, but my wife Ann was observing everything that was going on. Ann had an idea how big it really was once it got within 15 feet of the boat. The fish made one final run underneath the boat, and we cranked down on the line to shorten it up. My wife was sitting on the driver’s side of the boat, grabbed the line and had to use both hands to pick her up into the boat.”
The moment the fish landed in the boat, Peveto said he and his family looked at each other and marveled at its size. Peveto indicated as crazy as it sounds, they still didn’t realize how big the fish really was. He told his wife if it was over 10 pounds, he was going to have a replica made.
“We immediately decided to leave the fishing area and go to Jackson Hill to weigh it,” Peveto said. “My wife called ahead to let them know we had a fish we wanted to weigh, but at the time, we still had no idea the fish was going to weigh close to 14 pounds. I was elated when they put the fish on the scale and saw the official weight. When I was walking up, I thought it had to be at least a 10-pounder, but if it’s an 11-pounder it will be my personal best. It was absolutely incredible that it turned out to be a ShareLunker. I want to thank my wife Ann for being there and playing a big part in making the catch. It was amazing to experience this with my family and it doesn’t get any better than that.”
Toler, along with a friend, decided to venture out to O.H. Ivie and do some bed fishing. They initially saw what looked to be a good-sized fish cruising the bank and watched it for about 30 minutes. It eventually paired up with a male and he bumped her up onto the bed.
“At that point we tossed at her for 20 or 30 minutes, but we didn’t get a bite,” Toler said. “We took a lunch break in the boat, let her rest for a bit, and then began casting at her again. We tossed a Watermelon Red Z-man craw bait and she began eyeballing it. She then went for the bait and when I set the hook, she got me hung up in some brush. We pulled up the talon and headed that direction using the trolling motor. We were able to get the fish up to the boat, where my friend netted her and put her into the livewell.”
Meanwhile, Toler and his friend unpacked the scale to get an exact weight on the fish. When it indicated the fish was over 13 pounds, they immediately went to the marina in order to get it certified. The fish is a personal best for Toler, surpassing his previous best of 11 pounds, which he caught at O.H. Ivie in 2021. Toler has been fishing O.H. Ivie since 2005.
“I knew this was the biggest fish I’d ever laid eyes on,” Toler added. “It weighed 13.20 pounds on our scale, but it was the first fish we had ever weighed on it, so we weren’t sure how accurate of a reading it was. I was nervous all the way to the boat ramp up until the fish hit the certified scale. As soon as it went over 13 pounds, I knew I finally did it. I have been chasing a ShareLunker for a long time, putting in a lot of hours on multiple lakes, including O.H. Ivie. It was also a great experience working with TPWD personnel. They made the process easy, were very informative, and answered all the questions that I had.”
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds, or 24 inches, in Texas. ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8lb+), Elite Class (10lb+), and Legend Class (13lb+). The 2022 season offers an opportunity to join the special club of premier anglers who have submitted a Legacy Class ShareLunker.
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. and Stanley Jigs. 6th 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.