Two Texas Anglers Catch 13-Pound Largemouths

The popular Toyota ShareLunker bass program started its 37th season with a pair of 13-pound-plus largemouths caught and donated to the state for its innovative stocking program.

texas largemouth bass
Angler Jack York caught this 13.51-pound largemouth bass from Lake Nacogdoches as part of the Texas’ Toyota ShareLunker program. Toyota ShareLunker Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife

Texas is one of the few states where anglers have a legitimate shot of catching a double-digit largemouth bass. Part of that might be because of the state’s popular Toyota ShareLunker Program. As part of the unique program, recreational anglers can donate their heavyweight bass to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) for stocking efforts.

“If you catch a 13-plus-pound bass and loan it to us during the spawning period (January to March), you support our selective breeding program and will be recognized as a member of the Lunker Legacy Class,” says the program.

The idea is that if lunkers are spawned to help stock Texas lakes statewide, those genetically superior genes will be passed down to future largemouth bass and, hopefully, will produce more lunkers. The program definitely seems to be working as planned, with evidence spanning decades.

Two 13-Pound Bass Caught in Texas

tom nilssen largemouth bass
Tom Nilssen was the first angler to catch a “Legacy Class Lunker” in 2023. His 13.52-pounder came from O.H. Ivie Lake. Toyota ShareLunker Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife

This year’s first Lunker Legacy Class largemouth bass (weighing more than 13 pounds) was caught Jan. 15 by angler Tom Nilssen of New Braunfels, Texas, from O.H. Ivie Lake. His largemouth bass weighed 13.52 pounds.

“In the past two years, O.H. Ivie has been a top producer of ShareLunker bass, so it’s not surprising the first Legacy Class Lunker of 2023 was caught in this reservoir,” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker coordinator. “This catch was a great way to start off the season — we are very grateful that Mr. Nilssen decided to loan his fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program. With the help of anglers like Mr. Nilssen loaning their catches to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, we can continue growing bigger, better bass for future generations.”

The second noteworthy ShareLunker bass of the 2023 season was caught at 2,200-acre Lake Nacogdoches in east Texas by Jack York. His fish weighed 13.51 pounds and is also a Legacy Class Lunker. York’s bass is the 634 entry into the program that started long ago in 1986 with Mark Stevenson’s then-state record 17.67-pounder from Lake Fork.

Texas Lakes Produce Big Largemouth Bass

13 pound largemouth bass texas
Brett Cannon caught this 13.37-pound largemouth bass in 2022, as part of the Toyota ShareLunker program. Toyota ShareLunker Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife

Last year, 24 Legacy Class largemouth bass were caught from nine Texas waters. That’s the most recorded since 27 were caught in 1995. But there are plenty of Texas waters growing enormous largemouth bass. A remarkable 75 public lakes have given up 13-plus-pound largemouth bass to anglers since the program began.

Earlier this year, before the 2023 ShareLunker program started, Kentucky angler Dalton Smith caught a pair of 14-plus-pound largemouths on the same day from O.H. Ivie Lake, located east of San Angelo.

Some of the state’s top lakes that annually receive stocking of genetically-superior bass from the Toyota ShareLunker program include lakes: O.H. Ivie, Sam Rayburn, Conroe, Austin, Travis, Palestine, Coleman City, Fork, Eagle Mountain and Tyler.

“It’s always great to see our genetic analysis reaffirm the efforts,” said Tom Lang, director of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. “On the other hand, when ShareLunkers aren’t related to previous ShareLunkers, it’s also valuable because those fish add more big bass genetic diversity to the effort.”

State biologists have learned plenty from genetic testing lunker largemouths over the years — they’re even able to detect Florida-strain largemouths that have been spawned and stocked out of TPWD hatcheries. In 2021, the program took in 23 bass. Nineteen of those tested were Florida-strain bass and held for spawning, leading to 18 successful spawns producing an estimated 270,000 fingerlings. In 2022, 217,000 genetically-superior bass fingerlings were spawned and stocked by TPWD.

Record-Breaking Bass in Texas in 2022

texas largemouth bass 16 pounds
Kyle Hall landed this 16.10-pound largemouth bass from O.H. Ivie Lake in 2022, as part of the Toyota ShareLunker Program. Toyota ShareLunker Program, Texas Parks and Wildlife

The Toyota ShareLunker program produced lake records twice in 2022 for largemouth bass at 950-acre Lake Daniel near Abilene, plus a new record bass at Fort Worth’s Eagle Mountain Lake and one at O.H. Ivie Lake too. The record 17.06-pound bass caught from Ivie was the heaviest in 30 years from Texas. Additionally, in 2022, the state had three bass each weighing more than 16 pounds recorded, and two others over 15 pounds.

“Our plan is to stock over 50 different water bodies with fingerlings all over the state, including some small urban bodies of water,” says Brian Van Zee, statewide stocking coordinator for Texas. “We’re also stocking plenty of fingerlings into some of the famed big lakes like Sam Rayburn, Toledo Bend, Lake Fork and others. Looking out three, five, 10 years, the possibilities of catching giant Texas bass as a result of this program are really exciting.”

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