Big Texas largemouth bass emerging from Lake Fork, Athens

Lake Fork produced its second big fish of the season on December 27, making it the second bass from the famed lake to head to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s breeding program.

Blake Eppinette of Downsville, Louisiana, caught the 13.6-pound Lake Fork bass about 5 p.m. and took it to the Minnow Bucket Marina.

The fish was in great distress from an overinflated swim bladder after having been pulled from 30 feet of water. Despite valiant efforts by the angler, Minnow Bucket and TPWD staff, the fish did not survive.

The fish was 21.5 inches in girth and 25.825 inches long.

On Dec. 30, Lake Athens produced its second ShareLunker ever, a 13.76-pound fish caught by Jason Lee Hanson, of Athens, shortly after 9 a.m.

Hanson was fishing in 12 to 14 feet of water near the City of Athens water intake using a Norman DD-22 when the big bass hit. He had been catching good fish all morning, despite temperatures near freezing, and knew he had a 13-pounder when the fish surfaced. Length of the fish was 27.75 inches, and girth was 20.25 inches.

The last ShareLunker from Lake Athens was caught in 1987 and weighed 13.81 pounds. The lake record, 14.19 pounds, was caught in 1988 but was not entered into the ShareLunker program because it was not caught during the season, which runs from Oct. 1 through April 30.