January 18, 2023 - O.H. Ivie Lake claimed the first Legacy Class largemouth bass of the 2023 Toyota ShareLunker collection season Sunday for the second consecutive year. Tom Nilssen of New Braunfels landed ShareLunker 633, which registered at 13.52 pounds on the scale. O.H. Ivie has enjoyed a tremendous run of Lunkers, boasting 12 in each of the last two seasons.
“In the past two years, O.H. Ivie has been a top producer of ShareLunker bass, so it is not surprising the first Legacy Class Lunker of 2023 was caught in this reservoir,” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker coordinator. “This catch was a great way to start off the season — we are very grateful that Mr. Nilssen decided to loan his fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program. With the help of anglers like Mr. Nilssen loaning their catches to TPWD, we can continue growing bigger, better bass for future generations.”
Nilssen arrived at O.H. Ivie Thursday to fish and was participating in a club tournament Sunday when he reeled in his Lunker. Nilssen nearly caught a big fish Friday, but he didn’t miss on Sunday when the opportunity presented itself again. Nilssen started out the day fishing in one location with a ridge of threes in a depth of 43 feet but wasn’t having any success. He changed tactics after 30 minutes — that’s when the bite happened.
“I decided I needed to try something different, so I moved up to the second point — on the second cast I hooked the fish using a jerkbait,” said Nilssen. “She was in about eight feet of water, and I had dropped the bait down to about four feet. The fish ate the bait in between some salt cedars and the battle began. I eventually got her in the boat, into the livewell and immediately transported her to the weigh-in site.”
Once the official weight was registered, Nilssen made the call to report his catch to the Toyota ShareLunker program.
“Natalie [Goldstrohm] did a great job of walking me through the submission process over the phone,” Nilssen said. “It felt a little daunting in the beginning, but it was an easy process and an excellent experience. The Toyota ShareLunker program is awesome. I wish other states would do something similar. The proof is in the pudding with what TPWD has been able to accomplish with this program over the years. It’s pretty amazing.”
In addition to O.H. Ivie’s two dozen combined ShareLunkers in the past two seasons, a new waterbody record of 17.06 pounds was set in 2022. It was the biggest catch in 30 years and the seventh-largest largemouth bass ever verified in Texas in public or private waters.
During the first three months of the season (January through March), anglers who reel in a 13-plus pound bass can loan it to TPWD for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 through March 31.
Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13-plus pound lunkers earn Legacy Class status, a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13-plus 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. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate contests — a Legacy Class drawing and the year-end Grand Prize drawing. First place in either wins a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and an annual Texas fresh and saltwater fishing license.
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas.
Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch (greater than eight pounds or 24 inches) during the calendar year 2023 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license. ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8-plus pounds), Elite Class (10-plus pounds), and Legend Class (13-plus pounds).
A new procedure is in effect for the 2023 season. Legend Class ShareLunkers no longer need to be weighed on a certified scale for entry. Anglers must include a photo of their Lunker on a digital scale to qualify for Legend Class.
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 basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.
Prize donors such as Bass Pro Shops, Lake Fork Taxidermy, American Fishing Tackle Company, Stanley Jigs and 6th Sense Fishing provide additional support for this program. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/, @texassharelunker on Instagram and online at TexasSharelunker.com.