EDITOR’S NOTE: The fish described in this article was submitted to the ShareLunker program, but it was inadvertently returned to the lake. However, the fish still counts for the program, officials said. Read more here.
The sixth ShareLunker of the season is the biggest so far — a 14.20-pound largemouth that was caught Saturday during a tournament on the Texas side of Toledo Bend Reservoir.
Ryan Pinkston of Center caught it while fishing in a Bass-N-Bucks Toledo Bend series event.
Tournament scales put the fish at 14.62 pounds.
Pinkston eagerly turned it over to ShareLunker officials, and by Monday, the program’s scales recorded 14.20 pounds, still the biggest fish yet this season. The five others crossed the threshold of 13 pounds, but with only a few more ounces.
Pinkston said it had been slow going until he rigged up a football jig and started casting it in 60-degree water that was about 5 feet deep.
On the second or third cast, the big bass took the bait, and Pinkston had a fight on his hands. After a tug of war, the big fish fought to stay out of the net, but Pinkston finally boated it and immediately saw he had a keeper — to say the least.
Toledo Bend has now produced five ShareLunkers, said Larry Hodge, a spokesman for the program, which is administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
He said the last was in 2008. The largest ShareLunker from the lake before Pinkston’s catch was a 14.25-pounder caught by Tanya Sorter in 2006. The current lake record is 15.32 pounds caught by Eric Weems in July 2000, Hodge said.
Pinkston’s catch makes him the frontrunner for Angler of the Year, who will receive a lifetime fishing license, Hodge said.
But if Pinkston doesn’t get the lifetime fishing license, he won’t be empty handed. He still gets to deposit $6,820 from winning the tournament and catching the biggest fish, a tournament official said.