Toyota ShareLunker 516: Falcon
The fish was caught at 3:30 p.m. by Gene Patrin of Zapata in nine feet of 68-degree water. He was using a watermelon red fluke.
The fish weighed 14.16 pounds and was 24.75 inches long and 22 inches in girth. It was held for pickup at Robert’s Fish ‘n Tackle, an official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding station.
Falcon has sputtered to life sporadically over the years, producing two ShareLunkers last season and two in the 2007-2008 season. The current season marks the first time the big reservoir on the Texas-Mexico border has matched its peak production of three ShareLunkers in 1995.
Despite its far southern location, Falcon tracks other Texas reservoirs in producing the bulk of its entries after January 1. Historically it has produced only three ShareLunkers prior to January 1. It has had three entries in December, three in January, one in February, four in March (counting No. 516) and three in April.
So far this season the leader in entries is O.H. Ivie Reservoir with six. Lake Austin has produced three. Other lakes have yet to be heard from.
Falcon is subject to wide swings in water level because of its role in supplying irrigation water to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. However, it is currently 95.56 percent full and has been at or above conservation capacity for months. Remaining full during this spring’s spawning season will provide good habitat for young fish to hide and feed in, setting the stage for the production of bass that will reach the Toyota ShareLunker minimum size of 13 pounds starting about 2018.
Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling program 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 by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.
Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program 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.
For complete information and rules of the ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass, a list of official Toyota ShareLunker weigh and holding stations and a recap of last year’s season, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
Information on current catches, including short videos of interviews with anglers when available, is posted on www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.