March has arrived and with it comes big bass.
If you are thinking about leaving frigid Oklahoma and heading to the warmer southern waters in Texas this spring to fish for largemouth bass at one of the Lone Star state’s big bass factories, you might just win some money.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation is providing prize money for the 500th entry into the Texas Park and Wildlife’s Department ShareLunker program.
That program uses 13-pound plus bass caught in Texas waters for genetic research to try and grow other big bass.
ShareLunkers – which are all females – are paired with males that are ShareLunker descendants and the resulting spawns are stocked into Texas lakes.
“Everything we know about genetics leads us to believe that fish that are produced by parents that grew big are more likely to grow big themselves,” said Allen Forshage, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where the ShareLunker program is headquartered.
Anglers in Texas have been donating, or sharing, their big bass with researchers since 1986. Anglers receive a fiberglass replica of the catch and ShareLunker clothing for their donation.
However, the angler who catches No. 500 also will receive $500 for every pound of fish.
If No. 500 happens to be a 14-pound largemouth, that would earn the angler $7,000. A new Texas state record (18.2 pounds) would be worth $9,100.
As of March 1, 483 ShareLunkers have been caught. The last three were caught on Saturday from Austin, Amistad and O.H. Ivie lakes. For more information on the Toyota ShareLunker program and an official list of weigh and holding stations in Texas, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker.
And you can keep track of the race for No. 500 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram