Toyota ShareLunker Program Enjoys Banner Season
ATHENS – The 2021 Toyota ShareLunker collection season will go in the books as one of the best in the program’s history. Anglers landed 23 ShareLunkers at ten different lakes across the state, the most during a January through March timespan since the 1995 season, which produced 27. They established five new lake records, four lakes made their mark on the program with a first-ever entry, and they caught a milestone ShareLunker 600 in this year’s group.
“This Toyota ShareLunker collection season was simply historic in so many ways. We live for seasons like this,” said Tom Lang, Director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. “We’re grateful that so many anglers caught their fish of a lifetime this season and then decided to share their lunker with us so we can make more of these bigger, better bass for future generations of anglers.”
It didn’t take long for the action to start, thanks to angler Travis Moore, who reeled in the 13.44-pound ShareLunker 586 out of Sam Rayburn Lake on Jan. 9. Three more January Legacy Lunkers followed, beginning with CJ Oates’ 13.02-pound fish from Lake Austin on Jan. 15, the first entry for the lake since 2014. On Jan. 29, Derek Mundy brought in ShareLunker 588, weighing 13.62 pounds from Sam Rayburn, then angler Daniel Ramsey reeled in ShareLunker 589 with a weight of 13.07-pounds from Lake Palestine.
In February, the cold snap didn’t slow down the Lunkers when angler Joe McKay of Bussey, Iowa, kicked off an incredible hot streak at O.H. Ivie Friday night, Feb. 19, with the massive 16.40-pound ShareLunker 590. It would prove to be the largest Legacy Lunker of the season, a new lake record, and the 16th biggest largemouth bass in state history. The catch began a run of eight Lunkers in eight days, with six coming from O.H. Ivie.
Angler Josh Jones of Sapulpa, Oklahoma reeled in ShareLunker 591 and 596, Donald Burks logged ShareLunker 592, Brett Cannon of Willis, Texas caught ShareLunker 593, and Casey Sobczak from The Woodlands, Texas produced ShareLunker 594 to account for O.H. Ivie’s six during the span. Scott Stephens secured ShareLunker 595 from Lake Conroe, and Trace Jansen of Buda, Texas, wrapped up the month with the record-setting 15.32-pound ShareLunker 597 from Lake Travis.
The month of March brought in 10 more Lunkers to close out the 2021 collection season. Lake Fork was the site for ShareLunker 598, which Stan Tencza of Yantis, Texas, reeled in. Angler Travis Gill of Amarillo, Texas, recorded ShareLunker 599 at O.H. Ivie, and Jason Gaston from San Angelo, Texas, had the honor of pulling in the milestone ShareLunker 600 at O.H. Ivie. ShareLunker 601 followed when it reached the boat of Jim Smith of Weatherford, Texas, out at O.H. Ivie. C.R. Stevenson III of Clyde, Texas, established a new Coleman City Lake record with ShareLunker 602 at 14.83 pounds.
Jimmy Faulkner of Carlsbad, New Mexico, and James Crawford of Whitehouse, Texas were the following anglers to join the program in 2021 with a Legacy Lunker. Faulkner caught the 10th fish of the season out of O.H. Ivie, which went in the books as ShareLunker 603. Crawford put Lake Tyler on the board with the lake’s first-ever Legacy Lunker. ShareLunker 604 weighed 15.44-pounds and created a new lake record. It was also the second-largest Lunker of the season.
The 2021 collection season closed out in style with another run of four Lunkers. Anglers Jeff Windham and Greg Denison of Brownwood, Texas, and angler Donald Moore of Rhome, Texas, combined forces to come up with the second triple Lunker day of the season. Windham (ShareLunker 605) and Denison (ShareLunker 606) landed their fish at O.H. Ivie. At the same time, Moore (ShareLunker 607) reeled in an Eagle Mountain Lake record at 13.08-pounds, the first Legacy fish to come from the lake.
On that Sunday, Tanner Spurgin of McKinney, Texas, capped the 2021 season with the second catch of the year from Lake Fork. ShareLunker 608 tipped the scales at 15.27-pounds. In addition to being the fifth fish over 15 pounds this year, it became the 23rd overall in the 2021 season.
Key highlights from the 2021 Toyota ShareLunker collection season include:
23 ShareLunkers this season, the most during January through March since 1995 (27)
Ten 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 OH Ivie waterbody record was 16.4 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 broken with the 15+ pound fish 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 OH Ivie, last season from Alan Henry)
Twice two ShareLunkers were submitted on the same day, and twice more than three ShareLunkers were presented on the same day, including when the program surpassed the ShareLunker 600 mark.
Five entries were greater than 15-pounds.
Also, TPWD biologists, through genetic analysis of this year’s Legacy Lunkers, have made some incredible 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 they 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 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,” Lang said. “On the other hand, when ShareLunkers aren’t related to previous ShareLunkers, it is great too 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. They will receive 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 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.
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. They get 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 someone reels in a lunker, 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 TexasSharelunker.com. Besides providing basic catch information, anglers can also offer 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 the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing significant 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 support 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.
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