The 2023 Toyota ShareLunker program delivered an exciting collection season for the third year in a row. Anglers contributed 18 Legacy Class ShareLunkers from four different lakes across the state, but the spotlight shined brightest on O.H. Ivie in west Texas. The waterbody produced a record-breaking 15 Legacy Class fish in 2023, following back-to-back years of 12 each during the 2021 and 2022 collection seasons.
Over the past three collections seasons, O.H. Ivie has amassed 39 combined Legacy Lunkers and multiple Legend Class entries. The Toyota ShareLunker website provides information on each Legacy fish from the 2023 collection season, archives of past seasons and details about how anglers can help make bass fishing even better in Texas.
“These amazing milestones do not just happen. Without a doubt, this program would not be possible without the tremendous support of the anglers,” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “We’re grateful that so many anglers caught their fish-of-a-lifetime this season and then decided to share their Lunker with us to support a future full of bigger, better bass in Texas.”
Key highlights from the 2023 Toyota ShareLunker collection season:
TPWD biologists implemented a genetic analysis of this year’s Legacy Lunkers and made some incredible discoveries. ShareLunker 644 is the only fish of the 39 Legacy Class ShareLunkers caught at O.H. Ivie in the past three years that has been determined to be a recapture.
However, ShareLunker 639 was a recapture of a fish that had genetics samples obtained through the year-round data collection program. That fish was previously caught and entered into the year-round data collection portion of the ShareLunker season as a Legend Class Lunker by Josh Jones on Dec. 17, 2021.
ShareLunker 634 from Nacogdoches is the parent of an 8.15-pound fish caught by Wade Allen on June 17, 2021. Sharelunker 634 had not been entered into the program prior to Mr. Allen’s catch, which indicates that it had an in-lake spawn. ShareLunker 634 and Allan’s catch are both pure Florida-strain largemouth bass.
In addition, ShareLunker 649 is an offspring of ShareLunker 535, is related to ShareLunker 536 and is a half-sister of ShareLunker 627. Genetic analysis also determined ShareLunker 636 is related to ShareLunker 600, ShareLunker 643 is related to ShareLunker 612 and ShareLunker 650 is related to ShareLunker 620.
“The ShareLunker catches by Josh Jones and Wade Allen exemplify the importance of our ShareLunker anglers sharing their Lunkers genetics with the program,” said Goldstrohm. “Had they not sent in the genetics of their fish, the connections would not have been made with the other Lunkers in the program. We encourage all anglers who submit a fish into the year-round program to take scales from their catches so we can continue to make these important findings.”
Anglers who caught and donated a 13-plus pound Lunker earned Legacy Class status, received a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13-plus 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 from Lake Fork Taxidermy. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate contests — a Legacy Class drawing and the year-end Grand Prize drawing. First place in either wins a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and a resident (or non-resident) annual fishing license.
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas. In addition to Legacy Class (13-plus pounds between January and March), ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8-plus pounds), Elite Class (10-plus pounds), and Legend Class (13-plus pounds from April to December).
Anglers who enter data for any Lunker they catch (greater than eight pounds or 24 inches) during the calendar year 2023 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.
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 basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their Lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
A new procedure is in effect for the 2023 season. Legend Class ShareLunkers no longer need to be weighed on a certified scale for entry. Anglers must include a photo of their Lunker on a digital scale to qualify for Legend Class.
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 such as Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Company, Stanley Jigs and 6th Sense Fishing provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/, @texassharelunker on Instagram and online at TexasSharelunker.com.