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|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2012-10-16                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Larry Hodge, 903-676-2277, larry.hodge@tpwd.texas.gov ] [LH]
Oct. 16, 2012
Toyota ShareLunker 537 Comes from Lake Austin
Catch is earliest entry ever from Lake Austin
ATHENS--Bennett Cowan of San Marcos caught Toyota ShareLunker 537 about 2:00 a.m. October 16 from Lake Austin.
The 14.28-pound fish was 20.5 inches in girth and 27.25 inches long. Lake Austin has now produced 18 entries into the ShareLunker program, five of which weighed 14 pounds or more.
Cowan's catch was also the earliest entry into the ShareLunker program from Lake Austin. The earliest previous entry into the program from the lake came on January 27, 2011. Two entries have come from the lake in January, seven each in February and March, and one in April.
The catch may be a signal that Lake Austin is poised to have a banner year. On Monday, October 1, an angler caught a 12.6-pound bass from Lake Austin that proved to have been entered into the program as ShareLunker 528 by Brett Ketchum in January 2012.
Lake Austin continues its rise to prominence as one of the top largemouth bass lakes in the state. Only Lakes Fork (249 entries into the ShareLunker program), Alan Henry (25), O.H. Ivie (25), Sam Rayburn (23) and Falcon (19) have produced more 13-pound or bigger bass.
Bennett was fishing a bluff with a hand-poured 17-inch worm when the fish bit. Anglers fishing for big bass at night often use large plastic worms on the theory that the big baits move a lot of water and are easier for the fish to detect.
The fish was picked up by Nathan Reynolds of the A.E. Wood State Fish Hatchery in San Marcos and taken there to await the results of DNA testing. If the bass is pure Florida, it will be moved to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and held for spawning. If not, it will be returned to the lake as soon as possible.
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 by calling the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 or paging (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
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. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year's season, see http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/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, is posted on http://www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
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.
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On the Net:
How to handle and care for big fish: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/handle/
List of official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Stations: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/holding/
Frequently asked questions about the ShareLunker program: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/sharelunker/faq/
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[ Note: This item is more than two years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov ] [SL]
Oct. 16, 2012
Whooping Crane Migration Watch Gets Under Way
AUSTIN -- Endangered whooping cranes have begun their annual 2,400-mile fall migration from Canada to Texas. As the rare birds approach Texas, a new citizen science initiative is inviting Texas residents and visitors to help collect sightings of whoopers.
Texas Whooper Watch (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/whoopingcranes/) is a new volunteer monitoring program that is a part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Texas Nature Trackers program. According to Lee Ann Linam, biologist in the Wildlife Diversity Program, Texas Whooper Watch is being developed to keep track of an ever-expanding population of whooping cranes.
Since beginning their slow recovery from a low of 16 birds in the 1940s, whoopers have, with few exceptions, always wintered on the Texas coast on and near Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. However, in the winter of 2011-12, several groups of whooping cranes expanded their wintering areas to include more coastal areas and even some inland sites in Central Texas--patterns that surprised crane biologists. "Texas Whooper Watch is a program that asks the public to help us discover more about where whooping cranes stop in migration and to be ready to learn more about these potential new wintering areas," according to Linam.
This year biologists expect about 300 whooping cranes to start arriving in Texas in late October or early November. According to surveys on the nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo Park in northwestern Canada, the flock may contain as many as 34 chicks. Linam notes that Texas Whooper Watch will also help improve the accuracy of surveys on the wintering grounds, as the growth of the flock has made traditional census methods more difficult.
Whoopers usually follow a migratory path through North and Central Texas that includes cities such as Wichita Falls, Fort Worth, Waco, Austin, and Victoria. During migration they often pause overnight to use wetlands for roosting and agricultural fields for feeding, but seldom remain more than one night. They nearly always migrate in small groups of less than 6-8 birds, but they may be seen roosting and feeding with large flocks of the smaller sandhill crane. They are the tallest birds in North America, standing nearly five feet tall. They are solid white in color except for black wing-tips that are visible only in flight. They fly with necks and legs outstretched.
Citizens can help by reporting sightings of whooping cranes and by preventing disturbance of cranes when they remain overnight at roosting and feeding locations. Sightings can be reported to whoopingcranes@tpwd.texas.gov or 512-389-TXWW (8999). Observers are asked especially to note whether the cranes have colored leg bands on their legs. Volunteers interested in attending training sessions to become "Whooper Watchers" in order to collect more detailed data may also contact the TPWD at whoopingcranes@tpwd.texas.gov or 512-389-TXWW (8999).
Additional information, including photos of whooping crane look-alike species, can be found at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/whoopingcranes/ and at http://www.whoopingcrane.com/report-a-sighting/ .
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