East Texas Anglers Hook Monsters on Sam Rayburn and Nacogdoches
In the first two weeks of March, two East Texas lakes have each added a new ShareLunker continuing a hot stretch for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) 2022 Toyota ShareLunker collection season.
O.H. Ivie Lake near San Angelo continues to lead the way with the most Legacy Class Lunkers (13+ pound bass) in the past few months, but Lake Sam Rayburn and Lake Nacogdoches have gotten some well-deserved recognition with recent catches.
According to a release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Jay Calvert of Coldspring, Texas capped week one of the month when he reeled in 14.34-pound ShareLunker 626 from Sam Rayburn on March 6. Kellie Renfro of Lufkin, Texas became the first female angler since 2018 to reel in a Legacy Class Lunker when she caught 13.27-pound ShareLunker 628 March 10 at Lake Nacogdoches. Renfro’s Legacy Lunker is the fifth overall from Lake Nacogdoches and first since 2020.
Calvert was on the water at Sam Rayburn, competing in a tournament, when he landed his fish of a lifetime. The day was even more special because one of his sons was with him on the boat and the catch helped lead the father-son duo to a tournament championship.
“I just don't know how it could get much better than that,” said Calvert. “We were at our first spot waiting for the first cast when we started noticing fish activity around the boat. Our first few minutes were spent throwing several different rigs and lures to figure out what they wanted. My son, Shane, caught the first fish of the day on a Carolina rig while I continued to throw various other setups. Shane caught another fish, so I said to him, "ok, that's the deal.” I picked up my Carolina rig and after just a few casts, I got the bite. My son didn't believe it was a fish and thought I was hung up. I told him I had a monster and to get ready. The fight I will never forget came next.”
Additionally, Calvert thoroughly enjoyed getting to be a part of the ShareLunker program.
“Big thanks to Clint Wade of Outlaw Outdoors as he was very helpful through the whole process. Of course, a big thanks to the ShareLunker program as well. With the lunker bunker being full, they still came out and certified the fish and recognized it. We were able to release the fish back into Sam Rayburn, healthy and happy.”
Kellie Renfro and her husband Brandon decided to go on a last-minute fishing trip to Lake Nacogdoches. They had a couple of hours prior to their kid's baseball practice and wanted to make the most of it.
“We stopped on a secondary point where my husband made a cast and caught a two-pounder, said Renfro. “My husband told me to come up to the front of the boat and cast, so I did. I felt a small bite, set the hook and thought that I was hung up, so I turned to my husband and said, I’ve hooked a stump. Seconds later that’s when she started pulling drag that’s when I realized I had just hooked into the largest fish I have ever felt, and the fight was on. After my husband scrambled to get the net out of the rod box, she took me around the boat once after jumping twice. She came up and that’s when my husband made the perfect scoop to get her in the boat. We were in shock I still cannot believe I’ve caught a fish of a lifetime.”
Renfro made the catch on a V & M baby swamp Hawg watermelon red, using 12-pound P- line Floroclear and my Dobyns spinning rod paired with her Lews spinning reel. Once the fish was secured and weighed, a call to the Toyota ShareLunker program was made.
“A big thanks to Brandon Belt with the San Francisco Giants and Brandon Belt Fishing for being at the lake at the time she was caught and helping hoist her up on the dock for the official weight,” added Renfro. “We contacted the ShareLunker program and they sent down someone from TFFC to weigh and collect data from the fish. She was released back into the lake Nacogdoches for another fisherman to catch another day.”
At this time, TPWD Inland Fisheries personnel have made the decision to halt the transport of ShareLunker’s across the state for the remainder of the 2022 season. However, Legacy Class ShareLunker submissions will still be processed on-site by TPWD, meaning biologists will meet the angler to take measurements, record official weight and collect genetic samples for analysis. Anglers can then return their fish to the lake.
Anglers submitting Legacy class lunkers will still receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13+ pound Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica mount of their Lunker fish from Lake Fork Taxidermy. 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.
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 TPWD for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers can call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 until April 1.
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas. ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8lb+), Elite Class (10lb+), and Legend Class (13lb+). The 2022 season offers an opportunity to join the special club of premier anglers who have submitted a Legacy Class ShareLunker.
Once a lunker is reeled in, anglers need to enter the catch data on the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app – available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play – or on the Toyota ShareLunker online app at TexasSharelunker.com. In addition to providing basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.