Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Toyota ShareLunker has taken in eight bass topping 13 pounds this season. Five of them are from known big bass producers like Fork, Austin and Falcon.
It is the other three lake names on the list that are interesting. Lake Dunlap, a 400-acre reservoir near San Marcos, produced a 13.34 in late December. It was the lake's first entry.
Last weekend the department took in three more fish, a 13.23 from Lake O'the Pines, a 13.1 from Toledo Bend Reservoir and the third of the year from Fork, a 13.11 caught by Mark Hall of Winnsboro.
While Pines and Toledo Bend are big-name reservoirs, they don't have a big history when it comes to the ShareLunker program. Prior to Thursday when Gladewater's Thomas McCraven caught his fish, Pines had only two entries and both of those came within a week of each other in 2010.
TB isn't that far ahead with a total of six entries. This one was caught by Louisiana fisherman Casey Martin who was fishing in the co-angler division of the FLW EverStart Series tournament on the lake last Friday. It was the tournament's big bass.
Lake O'the Pines has always been considered a good bass fishery; it just didn't have the ShareLunkers on its resume. TPWD biologist Tim Bister said the latest ShareLunker is probably tied to the stocking of about 450,000 Florida bass fingerlings in 1998 and 2000, or the offspring of those fish.
“I think so. Lake O'the Pines has consistently produced quality fish. I think we are seeing the results of the stocking of Florida bass over the years,” the Marshall-based biologist noted.
Until recently the lake has had a spotty stocking history. It received Florida bass twice in the 1980s, twice in the early 1990s and then again in 1998 and 2000. Because of the amount of Florida bass genetics found in the lake, it wasn't stocked again until 2009 and was subsequently stocked again in 2010 and 2011.
Bister said beyond the lack of stocking the truth is there just aren't that many really big bass in most lakes.
McCraven's bass is the second largest recorded from Pines. The biggest is a 15.13 that made the ShareLunker program in 2010.
Toledo Bend is a little different situation. The lake has been stocked almost every year since 1985 with about 500,000 Florida bass fingerlings. In a 181,000-acre lake, that is just a drop in the bucket. Based on normal stocking rates the lake should be getting about 4.5 million fingerlings per stocking, but that would take about half the state hatchery system's normal production.
“If I was forced to point at one thing, that would be what it would be. The Florida influence is lower on Toledo Bend than a lot of other East Texas lakes,” said Todd Driscoll, TPWD biologist for the lake.
Because of its shared waters with Louisiana, the lake also has been under less strict regulations than other Texas lakes. Driscoll said that has had an impact on the lake for an unusual reason.
“There are still a fair amount of people who do harvest bass on Toledo Bend. It is the outlier in this day and age in East Texas. It all kind of plays in together,” he said.
Driscoll also said while the lake may not be producing many 13-pound bass, it has been kicking out the 6- to 11-pound fish in recent years.
“There is no question (the lake) is on a run, but again it is 6- to 11-pound fish. The lake is full of fish that big. I think fishing is as good as it has been in 15 years on the lake,” Driscoll said.
Three fish aren't a trend, but they could be the start of one.
Have a comment or opinion on this story? Contact outdoor writer Steve Knight by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Steve Knight on Facebook at TylerPaper Outdoors and on Twitter @tyleroutdoor.