ATHENS-Roy Euper of Lufkin caught the first Toyota ShareLunker of the season from Sam Rayburn Reservoir Monday afternoon. The fish weighed 13.2 pounds, qualifying it to become ShareLunker 564.
Any angler who catches a 13-pound largemouth bass can be considered lucky, but Euper may be the luckiest of all. The official weight for the fish was taken at Jackson Hill Park Marina, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station. After the fish arrived at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, it regurgitated a crappie that weighed 0.3 pounds.
Had the fish not eaten that crappie, or if it had spit it up before being weighed, it would not have weighed the 13 pounds necessary to qualify as a ShareLunker.
Euper was fishing in 30 feet of water with a crankbait when the fish bit about 3 p.m. The fish was 25.5 inches long and 22 inches in girth.
The catch moved Sam Rayburn into sole possession of second place among Texas lakes for number of ShareLunkers caught. Anglers have caught 26 largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more from the lake. Only Lake Fork, with 257 entries, has produced more. Lakes O.H. Ivie and Alan Henry have each produced 25.
Last season Sam Rayburn sent two ShareLunkers to Athens. Both were caught on the same day, March 7. More ShareLunkers are caught in March than in any other month. Euper’s fish is only the twelfth in the 30-year history of the ShareLunker program to be caught in November.
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. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
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. The person who catches the season’s largest entry will be named Angler of the Year and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis of a top-of-the-line rod, Shimano reel, PowerPro line and G. Loomis hat. If the Angler of the Year is a Texas resident, that person will also receive a lifetime Texas fishing license.
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.