Wes Hayden of Round Rock on Feb. 11 caught one of three Lake Austin bass that have qualified for the ShareLunker program this season.
Only five total have been caught since the season began Oct. 1. It wraps on April 30.
Hayden’s 13.22-pound bass, ShareLunker 527 (shown here), was boated from about 5 feet of water while he was flipping a jig with a soft-plastic craw near an overhanging tree.
“She thumped it, and I set the hook,” Hayden said. “Then she started dragging me all over the place.”
DNA tests showed that the fish was a mixture of Florida and northern largemouth. Called “intergrades,” these fish are returned to the lake where caught as soon as possible, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which administers the ShareLunker program.
But, while the fish won’t be used for breeding at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center, Hayden still gets all the benefits of the ShareLunker program, including a replica of his catch.