Lake Austin: The Biggest Fish You Ever Saw

February 26, 2014by Brian Talley

Lake Austin provides a “big one,” is the latest Texas water source to join ShareLunker Program

Ok, maybe Robert Whitehead’s 13.19-pound bass isn’t really the biggest fish you ever saw – but it was big enough to enter Lake Austin into the Toyota ShareLunker Program, designed to help Texas Parks and Wildlife utilize the large fish for spawning purposes. Whitehead’s catch moved Lake Austin into a tie for fourth place (with Falcon International Reservoir) on the list of lakes producing the most ShareLunkers.

Whitehead, an Austin resident, caught the fish in the upper end of Lake Austin on February 21, 2014. In five feet of water, the fish came in at 27.28 inches long and 19.84 inches in girth and was caught on a plastic worm. This is the 20th fish from Lake Austin entered into the Toyota ShareLunker Program overall but the first for this year’s contest, which accepts entries from October 1, 2013 to April 30, 2014. Previous entries this year have come from Lakes Fork, Athens, and Palestine.

Whitehead’s entry wins him a free replica of his fish, a certificate, and ShareLunker clothing. He’ll also be recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The person who makes the “big catch” of the season will be named Angler of the Year, and if that person is a Texas resident, also will receive a lifetime fishing license.

The entered fish are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Some of the offspring are stocked back into the body of water from which they were caught; others are stocked in public waters around the state, the overall goal to increase the size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas. Whitehead’s fish was determined to be pure Florida largemouth bass and will be held at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for spawning.The program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota.

Catches of big bass typically increase in February and peak in March, as water temperatures warm and fish begin moving into shallow water to spawn. Abnormally cold December temperatures appear to have pushed back the start of spawning activity, but with seven entries so far and all of March and April to go, the ShareLunker program seems on track to receive the 20 entries it averages.

Are you fishing in Lake Austin (or any other Texas public or private waters)? If you legally catch a 13 pound-plus largemouth bass by the entry deadline, you can submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program. Emma Long Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin, upstream of the Pennybacker Bridge, is an official Toyota ShareLunker Weigh and Holding Station. From 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., fish can be brought to the station to be weighed on a certified scale. The station’s phone number is (512) 346-1831. If the fish weighs 13 pounds or more, call (903) 681-0550 to report the ShareLunker, and TPWD personnel will pick up the fish within 12 hours.

For more information on the ShareLunker program, visit https://www.facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram.