Lake LBJ

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Changes to ShareLunker program


Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at:

Craig Bonds, new director of inland fisheries for Texas Parks and Wildlife, has begun some tweaking he thinks will help keep anglers involved and lead to even more big bass in Texas lakes.

“The program overall will still run from October through April,” Bonds said in an interview. “But Jan. 1 through the end of March is when we will be accepting fish for our selective breeding program. We’re trying to reduce the number of unnecessary trips to bring back fish to the hatchery, when we know there’s very little chance we will be able to get those fish to spawn.”

History has shown that the bass brought in earlier than Jan. 1 are unlikely to spawn, and so the department intends to focus solely on the fish with the best chances.

“If there’s a fish caught right now, we will go down to that lake to weigh and take a fin clip because that genetic information is important,” Bonds said. “The anglers will still get their replica mount, but we will release the fish there and not transport it.

“Another thing we’re doing is we will try to spawn all lunkers, no matter their genetics,” Bonds said. Under previous programs, only 13-pound-plus fish that were pure Florida-strain bass would be placed into the spawning runs. “The pure Florida bass we will grow to create brood fish for our hatchery programs.”

Those fish already have shown a genetic tendency to achieve great size, and they will be paired with pure strain male bass in an attempt to push the top end of bass weights even higher.

“Every Florida bass we stock eventually will be selectively bred from those fish,” Bonds said.
He said current figures indicate about half the lunkers turned over to the state are pure Florida-strain bass, and the others are some percentage of intergrade. “But our wild populations are only about 10 percent pure Florida, which means those genes have a greater chance to grow to very large sizes.”

With a four- to 10-year time frame to make all the changes and to convert the breeding stock to pure Florida bass with trophy genetics, Bonds is also considering other changes to the program that could increase public participation. One of those would be offering some kind of incentives to anglers to weight photograph and submit information about bass that reach certain weights.

“The bar is set so high right now (13 pounds minimum) that we’re only able to involve a very small percentage of the fishing population,” he said. But with a lower threshold of 8 or 9 pounds, the state could gather a tremendous amount of information that could be valuable to anglers.

“We would hope to offer some incentives for anglers to submit their fish to a database with a picture of it on the scales,” he said. “It would help angler recognition and also help us know which lakes are hot and which lakes are producing big bass at any given time.”


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Water stained; 72–76 degrees; 0.77’ low. Black bass are fair on chartreuse Rat–L–Traps and plastic swimbaits. Striped bass are good on Spoiler Shads and Li’l Fishies at night. White bass are good on Li’l Fishies at night. Crappie are good on chartreuse/white tube jigs and live minnows over brush piles. Channel catfish are good on minnows and nightcrawlers. Yellow and blue catfish are fair on trotlines baited with live bait.