ATHENS – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s Toyota ShareLunker Program is experiencing a banner year in its goal to create, bigger, better bass in Texas. After obtaining 18 successful spawns from 19 of the 23 13-pound or larger Legacy Class fish loaned to the selective-breeding program in 2021, the department’s hatchery staff produced 271,872 fingerlings to benefit Texas public waters.
“We are thrilled with the number of ShareLunker offspring produced this year, and we couldn’t have done it without the anglers who generously loaned us their 13 pound and larger bass for our selective-breeding program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker Program Manager. “This generosity doesn’t just increase the lunker potential of the lakes where those fish were caught, it also helps us in our effort to convert our entire hatchery broodstock to ShareLunker offspring, which will benefit every lake in Texas for future generations of anglers.”
Of the 23 Legacy class ShareLunkers in the 2021 season, 21 were brought to TPWD hatcheries, 19 were available for spawning, and combined they spawned a total of 18 times with the male offspring of previously spawned ShareLunkers. TPWD returned 20 of the 23 donated fish to the lakes where they were caught, one is being retained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for display and two unfortunately perished. However, due to the outstanding work by TPWD Inland Fisheries staff, the survival rate of this year’s ShareLunker class was 91 percent.
The 10 reservoirs that produced Legacy Class ShareLunkers entries (O.H. Ivie, Sam Rayburn, Conroe, Austin, Travis, Palestine, Coleman City, Fork, Eagle Mountain, and Lake Tyler) this season all received stocking of ShareLunker fingerlings. A total of 271,872 fingerlings were stocked across these lakes with each one receiving more than 10,000 superior fingerlings. However, lakes that contributed multiple Legacy ShareLunkers received additional fingerlings. Lake Fork and Sam Rayburn received more than 20,000 fingerlings each and O.H. Ivie, which produced 12 Legacy class fish, received over 70,000 fingerlings.
In addition, 12,854 advanced-sized ShareLunker offspring (excess future broodfish from previous Legacy Class Spawns) and 79,482 fingerlings were stocked in 2021 in Bois D’arc Lake to support development of the fisheries resource in this new reservoir.
Key highlights from the 2021 Toyota ShareLunker collection season include:
- 23 ShareLunkers this season, the most during January through March since 1995 (27)
- 10 different water bodies produced ShareLunkers in 2021
- Five entries were new lake records (Eagle Mountain, Lake Tyler, Coleman City Lake, Lake Travis, O.H. Ivie)
- The O.H. Ivie waterbody record was 16.40 pounds and is the 16th largest largemouth bass ever verified in Texas (private or public)
- The Travis record was standing for nearly 30 years and was broken with the 15+ pound catch by 15-year-old angler Trace Jansen
- Four entries were from new waterbodies for the Legacy program (Eagle Mountain, Lake Tyler, Coleman City Lake, Lake Travis)
- For the second season in a row, an angler submitted two entries (this season from O.H. Ivie, last season from Alan Henry)
- Surpassed the 600th Legacy Class (13+pounds collected for spawning) ShareLunker entered into the program, reaching #608 since the program began in 1986.
- Twice two ShareLunkers were submitted in the same day and twice more three ShareLunkers were submitted in the same day, including when the program surpassed the ShareLunker 600 mark.
- Five entries were greater than 15-pounds.
In addition, TPWD biologists through genetic analysis of this year’s Legacy Lunkers, have made some discoveries in terms of lineage to previous and other 2021 ShareLunkers. ShareLunker’s 587 and 600 from O.H. Ivie are related to each other while ShareLunker 602 from Coleman City is likely the granddaughter of ShareLunker 410 which was caught at Lake Conroe during the 2006 season. Biologists were able to identify that at least two fish this season, the Lake Travis ShareLunker 597, and ShareLunker 608 from Lake Fork, are fish from the pure Florida Largemouth Bass program that were spawned in and stocked out of the TPWD hatcheries.
“Much like last season, when ShareLunker 583 was determined to be a 6th generation offspring, it’s always great to see the genetic analysis reaffirm the efforts,” said Tom Lang, Director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. “On the other hand, when ShareLunkers aren’t related to previous ShareLunkers it is also valuable because those fish add more big bass genetic diversity to the effort. You really can’t go wrong participating in the ShareLunker program.”
Anglers who caught and donated one of these 13+ lunkers earn Legacy Class status, received a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13lb+ Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica of their lunker fish provided by Lake Fork Taxidermy. These anglers also received 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.
Although the “Legacy Class” donation season has ended, anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 lbs. or 24 inches during the calendar year 2021 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+).
As of July, 289 of these fish have been entered from 72 lakes across the state. Since the program expanded in 2018 to include the Lunker (8+), Elite (10+), Legend (13+ outside of collection season), and Legacy 13+ (during collection season) classes, a total of 1,441 fish have been approved for inclusion in the program’s Lunker (1046), Elite (344), Legend (13), and Legacy (38) categories.
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 Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.
Prize donors Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Co. and Stanley Jigs also provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/ or TexasSharelunker.com
To view or download photos of all the “Legacy Class” ShareLunkers caught during the 2021 season, visit the TPWD Flickr album.