ATHENS—Blair Schwarz of McAllen caught Toyota ShareLunker 559 from a private lake in Zapata County on February 19.
The fish weighed 14.30 pounds and was caught on a Jackall ASKA squarebill crankbait in about six feet of water. Length and girth were unavailable at the time of writing.
The fish is the twenty-second entry into the ShareLunker program from private waters. The first such was ShareLunker 4, caught by Dan Berg of Hilltop Lakes in 1987.
The largest entry from private waters weighed 15.74 pounds and was caught by Kenneth Morris of San Angelo in 1995. The second-largest private-waters entry was caught by Jesse Roberson of Goldthwaite, then 9 years old. That fish weighed 15.54 pounds and earned Roberson Angler of the Year honors.
Schwarz’s fish, as the largest entry of the season so far, leads the race for Angler of the Year. G. Loomis provides a prize package that includes a G. Loomis rod, a Shimano reel, and PowerPro line for the Angler of the Year. If a Texas resident catches the largest fish, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.
ShareLunker 559 is the sixth-largest entry from private waters. The last prior to Schwarz’s fish, ShareLunker 473, was caught by Paul Detwiler of Tyler in 2009. That fish weighed 14.43 pounds.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program.
All anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and are recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Prizes and funding for the banquet are provided by Toyota, which also provides a Tundra pickup truck for use in picking up and returning the majority of lunkers and their offspring.
Some of the offspring produced by ShareLunkers are divided among the water bodies that produced entries during the current season. Others are used for research.
ShareLunker catches can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the season, by calling (903) 681-0550. If poor cellphone service prevents use of the voice number, anglers can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600. That number is also monitored 24/7 during the season.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see www.tpwd.texas.gov/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, will be posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram. “Like” this page and you can receive notification and photos of catches as soon as they become available.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.