Initially weighed at 13.02 pounds by tournament officials, the fish came in at 13.22 pounds when reweighed on the official ShareLunker program certified scale. The difference was significant, since it made the fish eligible to be submitted as the new record for Lake Palestine. The fish was 26.25 inches long and 20.75 inches in girth. It is now Toyota ShareLunker 554.
Laughlin’s fish wrapped his line around a tree, and he and his partner had to move the boat to free it. “When I set the hook I thought I had hooked a tree,” Laughlin said. “Actually I did. She had wrapped the line around one. We moved the boat to try to free it, and when we did she came right to the boat.”
The two catches confirm the opinion of the lake voiced by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) fisheries biologist Richard Ott in Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine’s February digital issue. “Everything just seems to ‘get going’a little faster in the spring on this reservoir,” he said. “The reservoir has seen little fluctuation over this past year, allowing for good development of shallow-water aquatic plants such as coontail and pondweed. Bass fishing really heats up on this lake in February, even with water temperatures around 50 degrees, and only gets better through March.”
Laughlin caught his fish from eight to 10 feet of 50-degree water on the north end of the lake near Kickapoo Creek using a Zoom Speed Craw. Once again Ott had called it: “The far upper end, particularly the Kickapoo Creek and Neches River arms, heats up first,” he said. “Bass start to fatten up prior to the spawn and can be readily caught on spinnerbaits and chatterbaits across the large flats of these two arms. You can often find them really stacked into the creek channels winding their way through these flats, especially on the colder days. I would not be surprised to see more ShareLunkers come from this lake.”
The current Lake Palestine water body record of 13.14 pounds was set by Lindell Booth in 2013. Booth was also fishing in a Media Bass tournament, also near Kickapoo Creek in eight feet of water. He recorded the water temperature as 49 degrees. Booth’s fish, Toyota ShareLunker 545, is on display in the dive tank at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
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. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.
The number to call to report a ShareLunker catch is (903) 681-0550. If poor cell phone service prevents use of the voice number, anglers can leave a phone number (including area code) at (888) 784-0600.
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.texas.gov/sharelunker/. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.
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.