In less than a week, the second Legacy Class largemouth bass of the 2021 Toyota ShareLunker season was reeled in at Lake Austin Thursday evening, Jan. 14. Angler CJ Oates, from Lago Vista, caught the 13.02-pounder just a few days after “ShareLunker 586” was claimed at Sam Rayburn.
“It was a last-minute decision whether to fish Lake Travis or Austin,” said Oates in a press release from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. “Luckily my good buddy John Davilla talked me into Austin. The bites started off very slow and at the first five spots we hit we had nothing.
“Around 9:30, boom! He catches a 11.30-pound giant on a glide bait swimming it next to a dock. We yelled, high-fived, took pictures and then waited about 15 minutes before hitting that same dock. Low and behold, two casts later the fish of a lifetime. I then called Texas Parks and Wildlife, spoke to Kyle [Brookshear] and the rest is history! The ShareLunker program is truly a great program.”
After being notified on Thursday evening, TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists quickly obtained and transported “ShareLunker 587” to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. This spring, TPWD biologists will attempt to spawn her in an effort to make bigger, better bass that will enhance fishing in Texas lakes for years to come.
“ShareLunker is off to a great start for 2021,” said Program Coordinator, Kyle Brookshear. “The warmer than average weather patterns that we have had throughout the fall and winter seems to already have the bass looking towards spring.”
Thursday’s catch by Oates was the first Legacy Class largemouth on Lake Austin since 2014. Robert Whitehead caught SL555 that weighed in at 13.19 pounds with a length of 27.28 inches on Feb. 21 of the 2014 season. Lake Austin’s all-time Legacy Class total now stands at 21 bass over 13-pounds since the program started in 1986.
“Since the lake lost its submerged aquatic vegetation, bass fishing has been tougher as the fish adapted to changes in habitat, and they were harder to find,” said Patrick Ireland, a District Supervisor for the TPWD Inland Fisheries Division. “We see the capture of this 13.02-pound bass and the 11.30-pound bass caught the same night as a positive sign for the fishery.”
During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13+ pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the ShareLunker selec-five breeding and stocking program.
Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13+ lunkers earn Legacy Class status, receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 131b+ Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica of their lunker fish. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate drawings; a Legacy Class Drawing and the year-end Grand Prize Drawing. Both drawings will award the winner a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual fishing license.
Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 lbs. or 24 inches during the calendar year 2021 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license.