Lake Austin has produced three of the five ShareLunkers for the 2011-2012 season, but one that was caught this week already has history with the program.
Landon Glass of Jarrell caught No. 528 from the lake Tuesday, Feb. 14.
A scan of the fish revealed it is the same fish caught Feb. 27, 2010, by Carl Adkins of Austin, at which time it became ShareLunker 481.
Every fish entered into the program is injected with a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag for identification if recaught.
In 2010, the fish weighed 13.1 pounds. When Glass recaught it Tuesday, it was 13.03 pounds.
Glass was fishing in 10 feet of 58-degree water with a football jig.
Brett Ketchum of Austin started the three-fish streak from Lake Austin when he caught No. 526 on Jan. 29.
Wesley Hayden of Round Rock caught ShareLunker 527 from Lake Austin Feb. 11.
The run of big fish from Lake Austin has its roots in years past.
“I believe a combination of our Florida bass stocking program and good habitat have led to great production over the years,” said Marcos DeJesus, TPWD’s fisheries biologist in charge of managing the lake’s fishery.
“There were probably a couple of good year classes several years ago,” he added, “and some of those individuals are now breaking that ShareLunker barrier.”
Since the Glass fish is a pure Florida largemouth, it will be taken to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens for the duration of the spawning period.
Hayden was fishing in 4 feet of 57-degree water about 2 p.m. using a jig when he hooked the 13.22-pound fish. It was 26 inches long and 21.25 inches in girth.
DNA testing showed Hayden’s fish to be a mixture of Florida and northern largemouth. Called “intergrades,” these fish are returned to the lake where caught as soon as possible. A photo was not immediately available.
Lake Austin will receive a portion of any ShareLunker fingerlings produced during the current season. Any lake that produces a ShareLunker receives a share of the season’s fingerlings, whether any of the fish from that lake are spawned or not.
These fingerlings will be the offspring of pure Florida females paired with pure Florida males that are themselves the offspring of ShareLunkers.
Allen Forshage, director of TFFC, said only pure Florida bass are used in this selective breeding program because they grow bigger and faster than native northern largemouths.
“By stocking pure Florida fingerlings from trophy fish, we will have a greater impact on the genetics of the overall largemouth population in the lake,” he said.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between Oct. 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the ShareLunker program by calling manager David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or paging him at (888) 784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code.
Fish will be picked up within 12 hours, TPWD officials said.
Anglers 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 and will receive a prize package from G. Loomis valued at $818. If a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the season, that person also receives a lifetime fishing license valued at $1,000.