More ways to participate and be recognized highlight Toyota ShareLunker program changes
For more than 30 years, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Toyota ShareLunker Program has partnered with anglers to enhance bass fishing in Texas. This year, the program is launching Jan. 1, 2018, with a new year-round participation season and more opportunities for anglers to participate and be recognized for contributions. The program also has a new logo and look that conveys the excitement of catching a lunker bass.
“Angler recognition continues to be a primary goal of the Toyota ShareLunker program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “This year for the first time ever anglers who catch a largemouth bass 8 pounds or larger can participate simply by providing important catch information for us to use to improve bass fisheries science. We will be recognizing and rewarding these anglers as well as those anglers who loan their lunker bass weighing 13 pound or greater to our breeding program during the spawning season.”
The four new levels of achievement are:
Lunker Legacy Class: Every angler who loans a 13 pound or larger bass to the Toyota ShareLunker program during the spawning period Jan. 1 to March 31 will join the prestigious Lunker Legacy Class. These valuable fish are an integral piece of the Toyota ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program and anglers will be eligible for an exciting prize package commensurate with the importance of sharing their lunker. Each Lunker Legacy Class angler will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ Legacy decal, VIP access to awards programing at the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. These anglers will also be entered into the Legacy Class Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license at the end of the spawning period March 31. Additional prizes may be included in both of these prize drawings prior to their entry deadlines.
Lunker Legend Class: Anglers who enter a 13 pound or larger largemouth bass Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Legend Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 13lb+ decal to display their achievement, a replica of their fish, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.
Lunker Elite Class: Anglers catching double-digit largemouth bass 10 to 12.99 pounds Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will become a part of the Lunker Elite Class. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, a 10lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.
Lunker Class: Anglers entering largemouth bass at least 8 pounds or 24 inches Jan. 1 through Dec. 31 will be recognized at the Lunker Class level. These anglers will receive a Toyota ShareLunker Catch Kit containing branded merchandise and fishing tackle items, an 8lb+ decal to display their achievement, and an entry into the year-end ShareLunker Prize Drawing for a $5,000 shopping spree and an annual fishing license. Additional prizes may be included in the prize drawing prior to its entry deadline.
A new logo and new tagline, “Bigger Better Bass” highlight the branding changes to the program, which also includes new Toyota ShareLunker branded merchandise for prizes, updated marketing materials and a new website and mobile application to make it easy to enter your catch in the program and keep up with the latest ShareLunker news
Starting Jan. 1, anglers will now be able to quickly enter their catch on their smartphone using the new Toyota ShareLunker mobile application, which will be available for free download in the iTunes app store and on Google play or online on the new Toyota ShareLunker website, texassharelunker.com. The digital entry forms will allow anglers to easily submit photos of the fish being properly measured, weighed and held. Other entry criteria will be detailed on the website and mobile application Jan. 1, the official start of the new yearlong season.
In addition to providing information and photos of their fish, anglers will also be able to provide a genetic sample of their largemouth bass by collecting and sending fish scales to TPWD using simple instructions from the app and website. These data will help fisheries biologists evaluate the impact of the ShareLunker breeding and stocking program in the gene pool.
“Monitoring the impact of ShareLunker stockings is critical to evaluating the success of the program,” Brookshear said. “That’s why the citizen scientist piece is so important – we need anglers to help us better understand the populations of our biggest bass in Texas and we are excited to offer exciting prizes in exchange for providing us with the information and genetic material from their lunker catches.”
Hatcheries staff will also attempt to spawn all eligible ShareLunkers 13 pounds or larger donated between Jan. 1 and March 31. Offspring of female genetic intergrades will be combined and stocked back to the source locations for all ShareLunker entries for the year, and genetically pure offspring will be maintained at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and eventually distributed to all TPWD production hatcheries to be used as brood stock for statewide largemouth bass stockings.
“Our goal is for all hatchery-held Florida largemouth bass brood stock to eventually be the descendants of ShareLunkers,” Brookshear said. “Increasing the percentage of ShareLunker offspring being introduced into Texas waters is an important part of increasing the lunker genetic potential in the state. We are incredibly grateful for anglers who choose to loan us these valuable fish and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to make Texas fishing bigger and better with the selective breeding program.”
For program updates, photos and to keep up with Texas lunker catches, join the ShareLunker community online at www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/.
More details on the shopping spree and other prizes for ShareLunker entries will be finalized and shared in the near future.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.