Looking back at the biggest fish caught in Texas in 2019
|Ryan Waguespack wins the 2019 Sharelunker $5,000 drawing|
In 2019, anglers entered 327 lunker bass over 8 pounds in the Toyota ShareLunker program from 88 lakes across the state. In addition to helping produce bigger, better bass for Texas lakes, anglers who enter their big bass catches in the program receive special recognition and prizes, including an entry into a year-end drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
“We are excited to announce that after wrapping up another great year of participation in the Toyota ShareLunker program, angler Ryan Waguespack of McQueeney was randomly selected from the 2019 entries to win the coveted year-end $5,000 shopping spree to Bass Pro Shops,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “We want to remind anglers that every certified ShareLunker entry will earn you a chance of winning this drawing along with many other great prizes in 2020, so be sure to download the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app and get fishing.”
Waguespack said although he’s thrilled to be the winner of the prize drawing, he’s also excited about the opportunity to help make bass fishing in Texas bigger and better. Even though he hasn’t caught his goal 13 pound Legacy Class fish yet, entering five other big bass into the other weight categories in the expanded program has provided the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with important data that fisheries biologists and hatcheries staff can use to help produce more lunker bass in Texas lakes.
“I’m very excited, I put a lot of effort and passion into my fishing and I’m always trying to catch a bigger bass,” Waguespack said. “It’s also good to be on a list of recognition – especially as a fishing guide, it’s a selling point and it shows we’re doing something right.”
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for bass over 8 pounds caught in Texas. In 2019, anglers entered five Legacy Class bass over 13 pounds and loaned them to TPWD for the selective breeding and stocking program during the spawning window Jan. 1 through March 31. Additionally, anglers entered four Legend Class bass over 13 pounds that were caught outside the spawning window or not loaned for spawning, 76 Elite Class bass weighing 10 to 12.99 pounds, and 242 Lunker Class bass weighing between 8 and 9.99 pounds or at least 24 inches.
The top five ShareLunker producing lakes in 2019 included Lake Fork near Quitman with 112 entries, Lake Conroe near Houston with 69 entries, Lake Athens in Athens with 48 entries, Sam Rayburn Reservoir near Jasper with 32 entries, and O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo with 21 entries.
Lakes producing 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass entries in 2019 included Lake Leon with 13.00 pound ShareLunker 581 caught March 29; Lake Conroe with 13.36 pound ShareLunker 580 caught March 9; Lake Fork with 13.73 pound ShareLunker 579 caught March 8; a private research lake with 13.79 pound ShareLunker 578 caught Feb. 8; and Marine Creek Lake with 14.57 pound ShareLunker 577 caught Jan. 26. Three of the Legacy Class fish spawned successfully at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, producing 55,000 offspring that were stocked in Texas public lakes and another 30,000 pure Florida largemouth bass offspring that were retained as hatchery broodstock so that TPWD can stock these big bass by the millions statewide in coming years.
In return for loaning their Legacy Class fish to TPWD for selective breeding and stocking, anglers receive a catch kit, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest and a replica of their fish. Additionally, these anglers receive entries into both the year-end drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license and a special Legacy Class drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree, won by angler Barry Prince of Lindale in 2019.
Anglers who enter a Toyota ShareLunker in every other category through Dec. 31 also receive great prizes, including a catch kit filled with merchandise and a drawing entry for the year-end $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license.
With the 2020 season underway as of Jan. 1, anglers can enter their big bass catches in all categories on the Toyota ShareLunker app – available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play – or on the Toyota ShareLunker website. The mobile app and website entry forms also include simple instructions for anglers who would like to provide a sample of fish scales from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
Anglers who catch a 13 pound or larger “Legacy Class” bass through March 31 can enter by calling the program directly – any time of day – at (903) 681-0550.
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, American Fishing Tackle Co. and Stanley Jigs also provide additional support for this program.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit https://www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram or https://texassharelunker.com/
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