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May 14, 2007
2007 Budweiser Sharelunker Season Wrap-Up
ATHENS, Texas — The 21st season of the Budweiser ShareLunker program ended April 30 with a total of 18 fish entered, slightly below the long-term average of 21.
Lack of fishing opportunity due to weather probably had more to do with the outcome than a paucity of fish. Almost every weekend during the peak months of March and April saw storms or cold fronts, including an April 7 winter blast that brought snow to much of northern Texas.
Seven fish were entered into the program in March and six in April. Lake Alan Henry, which gave up three Sharelunkers in March 2006 and six during April, managed to send only two big fish to Athens in April 2007. Anglers reported the big females began moving onto spawning beds only a couple of weeks before the season ended.
Budweiser ShareLunker program manager David Campbell, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center director Allen Forshage, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries Division Director Phil Durocher discussed the possibility of extending the season into May, but decided not to because of concern for the welfare of the fish.
“It can take several weeks for fish to spawn after we bring them to Athens,” Forshage said. “By the time we returned them to the lakes, the water would have warmed to the point it could endanger the lives of the fish. Our first concern is always to keep these big fish alive and return them to the lake where they were caught.”
Fingerlings produced by the big females are also stocked into the lakes where ShareLunkers are caught, and warmer water temperatures can also result in higher mortality of the young fish.
Honors for Angler of the Year go to 9-year-old Jesse Roberson of Goldthwaite, who caught the biggest fish of the season, a 15.54-pounder, from a private water body, Lake Merritt. The fish was 27.125 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth and hit a small plastic crayfish in three to four feet of water on March 9. In addition to ShareLunker clothing, Roberson will receive a lifetime Texas resident fishing license for catching the biggest entry by a Texas angler.
The second-largest fish of the season was caught from Lake Fork by Michael Gray of Murphy. The 15.32-pound fish was 26.75 inches long and 22.5 inches in girth.
Lake Amistad produced the third-largest program entry, a 14.5-pounder caught by pro angler Rick Turner of Tyler. The lunker boosted Turner’s four-day, 20-bass total to 90 pounds, 9 ounces and helped earn him $69,500 in winnings. The fish was the biggest ever weighed in at an FLW Outdoors tournament.
Evidence of the continuing improvement in largemouth bass growth due to the introduction of Florida largemouth genes came from Lake Cisco, a 1,050-acre lake near Abilene. The lake was impounded in 1923 and was first stocked with Florida largemouth bass in 1991, and again in 1994 and 1995. It produced its first Budweiser ShareLunker Jan. 27, when Richard Choate of Mineral Wells caught a 13.2-pound bass that was 26.25 inches long and 19.5 inches in girth.
Two fish were repeat entries. Dale Washington’s 13.05-pound lunker caught April 10 from Lake Fork had been caught and entered into the ShareLunker program a year earlier by Robert Jones of Clute. The fish spawned just 13 days after being caught this spring and set a record for the number of eggs from a single ShareLunker spawn—50,697.
But the surprise of the year came from Lake Alan Henry on April 18, when guide Phillip Pool caught a fish that had been entered into the program each of the two years prior and returned to the lake each time. The three-time entry had been caught by Jimmy McMahon of Big Spring in April 2005 and was caught again by Curtis Norrod of Lubbock in April 2006. The fish is the only one to have been caught and entered into the Budweiser ShareLunker program three times.
Following is a chronological summary of the 2007 Budweiser ShareLunker season.
November 25, 2006. When Eddie Horn pulled Budweiser ShareLunker No. 424 from Lake Fork, he joined a select club of only eight anglers who’ve entered fish during the month of November.
Horn’s fish was 26 inches long and 20.5 inches in girth and weighed 13.79 pounds. He caught it in 14 feet of water using a six-inch black Zoom lizard.
December 28, 2006. Seven-year-old Parker Chambers and his dad, Chris, of Plano collaborated on catching ShareLunker No. 425 from Lake Fork using the new rod and reel Parker got for Christmas. The 13.4-pound fish was 24.75 inches long and 20.5 inches in girth. The Chamberses pulled her from six feet of water using a Rapala X-rap.
January 5, 2007. Jaret Latta of Nacogdoches caught Budweiser ShareLunker No. 426 from Lake Nacogdoches. The 13.31-pound largemouth bass was 27 inches long and 20 inches in girth.
Latta was fishing in 20 feet of water when the big bass took a one-ounce jig.
Latta’s fish is the third ShareLunker from Lake Nacogdoches and the first since 1999. The lake record largemouth, caught in 1986, weighed 14.02 pounds.
January 27, 2007. Richard Choate of Mineral Wells was just trying to keep out of the wind when he flipped a Paca Craw into the 44° water around a boat dock on Lake Cisco, then jiggled his rod tip. He forgot all about the cold when a 13.2-pound largemouth bass nabbed his lure.
Choate’s fish was 26.25 inches long and 19.5 inches in girth. It became Budweiser ShareLunker No. 427 and is the first ShareLunker from Lake Cisco.
February 18, 2007. Following weeks of bitter weather during which no fish were entered into the Budweiser ShareLunker program, Austinite David Reinarz went looking for a hot spot where fish might find warmer water.
He settled on a concrete wing wall projecting from Tom Miller Dam on Lake Austin toward the Hula Hut, a popular restaurant near downtown Austin, and hauled in Budweiser ShareLunker No. 428, a 13-pound largemouth bass. At season’s end the fish put Lake Austin into a four-way tie for fifth place among lakes producing ShareLunkers. Lakes Austin, Amistad, Bob Sandlin and Falcon have sent seven ShareLunkers each to Athens. Only Lakes Fork (236 fish), Alan Henry (25) Sam Rayburn (22) and Conroe (11) have produced more entries into the program.
Reinarz was using a ¼-ounce black jig with the weed guard trimmed back and a watermelon seed Brush Hog also cut down to keep the bait compact when he hooked the fish in 15 feet of 50-degree water.
March 3, 2007. March is the month when spawning largemouth bass attack anglers’ lures with such ferocity that nearly half of all entries in the Budweiser ShareLunker program are caught during those 31 days.
Stephen Carey of Fords, New Jersey, added to the list when he landed a 13.23-pound Lake Fork bass that became entry No. 429 in the Budweiser ShareLunker program.
Carey caught his fish in five feet of 53-degree water using a half-ounce Rat-L-Trap. The fish was 25.5 inches long and 21 inches in girth.
Carey is the first angler from New Jersey to enter a fish into the Budweiser ShareLunker program. With his catch, anglers from 20 states outside Texas have now entered fish into the program.
March 9, 2007. Jesse Roberson of Goldthwaite continued the March action with a 15.54-pound fish caught from a private lake near Goldthwaite. Fishing with two adult family friends, the 9-year-old was using a plastic crayfish in three to four feet of water when he hooked his big bass. One of the adults had to help him land the fish, which was 27.125 inches long and 21.5 inches in girth.
The fish was the largest entry into the program for the season. Roberson is the youngest Angler of the Year in ShareLunker program history; the lifetime Texas resident fishing license he will receive normally costs $600.
March 10, 2007. While Budweiser ShareLunker program manager David Campbell was on his way back to Athens with Roberson’s fish on Saturday morning, he got word that Dennis Weaver of Seguin had pulled a 14.478-pound fish from seven feet of water in Choke Canyon Reservoir. The fish was 26 inches long and 21.125 inches in girth. Lure type was not reported.
The afternoon of March 10 Lake Fork yielded two ShareLunkers. Michael Gray of Murphy was using a white tube jig in four feet of water when he landed a 15.32-pound lunker. David Reavis of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, was fishing on the bottom in 15 to 20 feet of water when he hooked his 13.24-pound bass.
March 20, 2007. Dave Maltsberger of Lewisville caught the 11th Budweiser ShareLunker of the current season from Lake Fork March 20, matching a feat his son Derrell accomplished in March 2005. Dave Maltsberger’s 14.04-pound lunker was 25.75 inches long and 20.75 inches in girth. Bait used and location of the catch were not reported.
Derrell Maltsberger’s catch on March 3, 2005 was the 10th of the season and weighed 13.19 pounds.
March 23, 2007. Pro angler Rick Turner of Tyler, fishing in the FLW Stren Series Texas Division tournament on Lake Amistad, landed a 14.5-pound largemouth bass that is the largest tournament fish ever caught during an FLW Outdoors competition.
April 10, 2007. Dale Washington of Godley, Texas, was fishing in 20 feet of water with a DD-22 when he caught a 13.05-pound largemouth bass that became Budweiser ShareLunker No. 436. That same fish had been caught April 5, 2006, by Robert Jones of Clute, Texas, entered into the program as ShareLunker No. 415 and returned to the lake. The fish was 25.5 inches long and 20.5 inches in girth.
Jeff Kirkwood of Royse City, Texas, had a memorable day on Lake Fork as well, reeling in a 13.07-pound lunker that became Budweiser ShareLunker No. 437. Kirkwood’s fish was 25.5 inches long and 20 inches in girth.
April 13, 2007. Donny Collins of Canyon Lake, Texas, pulled a Friday the 13th fish from Falcon International Reservoir. The 13.03-pound fish was 25.5 inches long and 19.5 inches in girth.
The lake produced no Budweiser ShareLunkers between 1995, when three entries came from the lake, and 2004, when Jerry Campos of San Antonio caught a 14.28-pound fish. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has aggressively stocked the lake with Florida largemouth bass since 2001, and rising lake levels have rejuvenated the habitat.
Campos’s ShareLunker was the largest entry into the ShareLunker program during the 2004-2005 season, and some 12,000 ShareLunker offspring were stocked into Falcon in 2005. Thanks to Collins, the lake will receive another stocking of ShareLunker offspring this year.
April 18, 2007. Phillip Pool of Lubbock made history when he reeled in a 13.2-pound bass from Lake Alan Henry. The fish stands alone in Budweiser ShareLunker annals as the only fish to have been caught and entered into the program three times. It is now officially Budweiser ShareLunker No. 389, 423 and 439.
Jimmy McMahon of Big Spring caught the fish April 14, 2005, and returned it to the lake later that year.
On April 24, 2006, Curtis Norrod of Lubbock also caught the fish and, like McMahon, returned it to the lake after the spawning season.
“The fish must really enjoy the ride to Athens,” commented Pool. He named the fish Annie and said, “This fish is proof the Budweiser ShareLunker program works.” Lake Alan Henry has now been stocked with 20,222 ShareLunker fingerlings and will receive more this year.
April 25, 2007. Choke Canyon Reservoir produced its second ShareLunker of the season when Larry Scharbrough of San Antonio caught a 13.33-pound fish that was 25.75 inches in length and 20 inches around.
April 29, 2007. The final ShareLunker of the season came from Lake Alan Henry. Nathan King of Lubbock caught the 13.0-pound fish, which was 25.5 inches long and 20.5 inches in girth.
The Budweiser ShareLunker program is made possible through support from Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Since 1991, Anheuser-Busch, in partnership with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, has contributed millions of dollars in funding to support conservation causes and fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation programs in Texas.
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