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April 26, 2010
ShareLunker Streaks Have Forked History
Will O.H. Ivie Break 10 Before April 30?
ATHENS — The official Toyota ShareLunker vehicle used for picking up entries into Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s ShareLunker program has made so many trips to O.H. Ivie Reservoir this season it could almost drive itself there.
ShareLunker program manager David Campbell made three trips to O.H. Ivie between April 3 and April 6. That included back-to-back trips on April 5 and 6.
Each 700-mile round trip took about 12 hours, meaning Campbell got little sleep during that time, and he lived mostly on diet Dr Pepper, candy corn and jelly beans.
By the end of the four-day period he and photographer Larry Hodge, who made the trips with Campbell and helped drive, were depending on caffeine to stay awake. "I told David I knew we were pushing too hard when we had to start buying two-packs of energy drinks to keep from falling asleep," Hodge said.
But the calls kept coming from official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations at Concho Recreation Area and Elm Creek Village.
O.H. Ivie has produced nine ShareLunkers since January 16, 2010, when Ben Blaine of Merkel kicked off the streak with a 14.02-pounder. Additional fish were caught January 21, February 27, March 27, April 3 (two fish), April 5 and April 6.
The biggest catch of the streak came on April 9, when Sam Callaway of Corpus Christi caught Toyota ShareLunker 500 from O.H. Ivie, a 13.34-pounder. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation paid $500 a pound for the fish, a total of $6,670. That tournament benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Callaway has announced he will donate his winnings to the foundation.
Streaks of big fish happen when all the right conditions for producing and catching big bass come together. It takes about 10 years for a largemouth bass to reach the 13 pounds needed to be eligible for the ShareLunker program, and during that time the fish has to have adequate food to grow.
Streaks in prior ShareLunker seasons have produced impressive numbers of entries into the program. In 1994-95 the program received its highest number of entries ever, 36. In 1991-92 there were 33 entries; in 2005-2006 there were 32. As of April 25, 2010, 31 fish had been entered into the program during the current season. Only those four seasons have broken the 30-fish mark.
TPWD studies have shown that about half the bass in a lake die each year from various causes, including being eaten by other fish or by anglers, so less than 1 percent of any year class normally live to be 10 years old. Then water conditions have to be right for anglers to be able to catch the big fish. Although some are caught from deep water, a high percentage of ShareLunkers are caught when they move into shallow water to spawn.
A search of the ShareLunker archives on the TPWD web site reveals that while streaks are exciting and generate a lot of "that lake is on fire!" comments, they aren’t that uncommon. (I could go on to say that the reason they aren’t uncommon is because TPWD’s Inland Fisheries staff does such a great job of managing Texas fisheries, but that might be taken as bragging, so I won’t go there.)
Sam Rayburn Reservoir had a run of six ShareLunkers between January 21, 1998 and March 22, 1998. Choke Canyon Reservoir had a six-fish streak from January 21, 2009 to April 26, 2009. Lake Alan Henry spouted nine ShareLunkers between January 29, 2005 and April 15, 2005. And then there’s those nine fish from O.H. Ivie this season.
But Lake Fork, which has produced about half the total number of ShareLunkers, is the undisputed king of the streak. Its first came in 1988 and 1989, when it produced 18 ShareLunkers. The next season it produced 17, the following year 22, and from January 8, 1992 to April 25, 1992, another 21, including the current state record of 18.18 pounds.
The following four seasons Lake Fork produced 17, 16, 23 and 21 ShareLunkers. After a two-year break in 1997 and 1998, Fork started streaking again, but with lower numbers: 10 fish in the 1998-99 season and 8 the following season. Following another low production year in 2002, Fork’s output of ShareLunkers hit seven in 2002-2003, seven in 2003-2004, seven in 2004-2005 and eight in 2006-2007.
During the current season Lake Fork has produced three ShareLunkers. Does that mean the lake is dead, as some Internet posters would have you believe? Or that O.H. Ivie is the new Lake Fork?
You can believe everything you read on the Internet if you want. But streaks of big fish are a function of nature and a combination of factors. TPWD fisheries management crews monitor lakes and recommend stocking and regulations as ways of keeping fisheries healthy and productive. Other factors affecting how many fish a lake produces can’t be controlled by humans, such as rainfall and weather. When all the conditions are right, lakes turn on. When those conditions go away, things go back to normal.
And normal in Texas is simply the best bass fishing in the nation and possibly in the world. More than 60 Texas lakes have produced ShareLunkers. Streak or no streak, as ShareLunker program manager David Campbell says, "You can catch a trophy fish anywhere in the state of Texas."
That is a claim that no other state in the nation can make.
That’s no Texas brag, just fact.
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