AUSTIN – For the third time in less than two weeks, Lake Fork has delivered what many anglers dream about for a lifetime – a 13-pound-plus Toyota ShareLunker largemouth bass. For angler Alex Finch, who landed the 13.06 pound Legacy Class largemouth bass during a solo fishing trip March 11, the catch checked off a “bucket list” item he’s been aiming at for years.
“This was one thing in my lifetime I said I wanted to do – catch a ShareLunker,” said Finch, of North Richland Hills. “I’ve accomplished a lot in the sport of fishing and I’ve caught a lot of big bass by most people’s standards, but I’ve never put one on the scale and had it read like that. My initial reaction was like “finally!”
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After landing ShareLunker 573 on a bait he built himself – a Finch Nasty Thumper Gizzard Shad – Finch took the fish to be weighed and held at the Minnow Bucket Marina until Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) Inland Fisheries staff arrived to verify the catch and transport it to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. The fish is now in the “Lunker Bunker” at the TFFC being monitored and cared for by hatchery staff to prepare for spawning as part of the program’s selective breeding program.
“Loaning the fish to the ShareLunker program for spawning was an easy decision for me,” Finch said. “My priorities were taking good care of the fish and the public purpose of the donation. The Toyota ShareLunker program has really helped make Texas fishing better than it is in any other state.”
ShareLunker 573’s roommates at the “Lunker Bunker” include Lake Fork’s two other Legacy Class entries for the season – Toyota ShareLunker 572, a 13.00 pound largemouth bass caught by angler Michael Terrebonne March 8; and Toyota ShareLunker 571, a 15.48 pound largemouth bass caught by angler John LaBove March 2.
Although Lake Fork is well known as a big bass hotspot, not every year yields Toyota ShareLunker entries. To have three caught and entered in less than two weeks was surprising to many local anglers, including Finch.
“I’ve been fishing at Lake Fork for 5 years and I’ve seen it cycle,” Finch said. “Last year we really started to see the population of fish coming back. We knew there were going to be some big fish caught here this year, but we had no idea we would be seeing three ShareLunkers in nine days – that’s incredible.”
Texas anglers who catch their “bucket list” 13 pound or larger largemouth bass can loan the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program for spawning through March 31.
Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger Legacy Class bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programming at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.
For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program and to view photos of all of the 13-pound-plus largemouth bass caught this season, visit: www.facebook.com/ShareLunkerprogram or https://texassharelunker.com/.
Photo: © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department