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I was watching a show tonight about the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens and was amazed at what they were talking about.  David Campbell, who oversees the fisheries, said they recieve around 3 to 30 Lunker Program bass a year.  Out of those bass, some may never spawn and some may spawn from 1 to 3 times in that year.  He stated that he had just 1 bass that spawned 5 times in that one year.  WOW!!

Now here is the shocker,  He stated that Lake Fork was one of the main lakes that the "Lunkers" come from but he also said that for every 4 "Lunker" bass that comes from Fork, 4 "Lunker" bass come from Lake Allen Henry!!!   

David travels across Texas in the months of Dec. thru March picking up these bass.  In order for the bass to qualify for the program the bass has to weigh 13lbs or more.

With that being said,  are they putting these big bass back in the lakes that they come from?  From my understanding of the program, the bass stay at the fisheries for spawning and to extract some DNA.  Will these bass ever go back to the lakes or will they be used for testing for the rest of the lives?
 

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It was my understanding that they used the fish for better genetics within their fisheries dept. and that they transplanted the fry back into the lakes of texas.
 
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imonembad said:
It was my understanding that they used the fish for better genetics within their fisheries dept. and that they transplanted the fry back into the lakes of texas.
That makes alot of sense.  Now that you mention that, I believe he said that they put the fry in many different private lakes owned by the TFFC.  I will have to go back and rewatch it.  I forgot that I recorded on my DVR player.  LOL
 

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Yep Texas has the Share a Lunker Program. Which in my opinion is the best fisheries program in the country! I wish SC and many other states would take a lesson from them.
 
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Mr. Campbell said its wasn't all that easy getting the program going. He said it took lots of space, MONEY, and the approval through Austin which are very difficult people to convince for creating a project. I'm just very glad that it was done.
 
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LakeCityYankee said:
I wish SC and many other states would take a lesson from them.
Is Texas the only state with this type of program in the US?? ???
 

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My state, Missouri has an excellant fisheries program but we as a state do not produce that many big fish. I'm sure that is why Texas is the only state, because of all the awsome lakes they have.
 

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The Texas Share a Lunker program is the only state operated genetic engineering bass development program that I know of. The fisherman receives a plastic mount replica of the bass he donates and I believe the bass is returned after stripping eggs, if the fisherman stipulates that, otherwise the bass remains in captivity. The Texas program operates on a grant and funded by taxes at a cost a several million dollars, most states have a difficult time just maintaining their state wild life management programs.
The Share a Lunker program is genetically engineering bass to maximize growth to grow a new world record and is contraversal among fisheries management professionals. There are private funded programs doing similar studies at universities and by individuals.
California was not the first state to transplant bass from Florida, however was the most successful in regards to achieving giant growth rates, which by the way was not the goal. San Diego city lakes manager Orville Ball initiated the program back in 1959, which was managed by Jim Brown, to introduced the Florida strain bass into San Diego's city lakes, to improve bass fishing over all. San Diego biologist Larry Botroff studied the impact of introducing Florida strain LMB for over 35 years in San Diego's lakes. The Florida's proved to be more difficult to catch and the catch rate per man hour went down when compared to native northern strain bass catch rates. Survival rates in lakes the had freezing temperatures was poor for the Florida strain, therefore biologically the Florida bass introduction was considered a failure. The fact that bass were growing to giant size in San Diego's lakes and the lakes became world famous as a result was a secondary issue. The Florida strain LMB were planted in several California reservoirs because of their growth rate and the results are now a matter of record. California's bass are not been managed beyond initial stocking, other than population management, and no genetic engineering has occurred to these bass other than natural selection within the lakes environment. California Fish and Game department does not stock Florida strain bass or restock any bass after the initial stocking program, the bass populations are self sustaining.
Tom
 

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I am almost certain that the Share a lunker program only keeps the fish through one spawning season. I have never been there, but I recall reading in Bass Times that the fish were kept to spawn one year, Then the person who caught them was invited to release the fish personally. As I said, I haven't done it myself, and Iv'e never even fished in Tx, so I don't know, but this is my understanding of the program. I personally would rather release a fish than to leave it in captivity for the rest of its life. But till spawning season? With a free mount? Heck yeah.
 
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I am going to try to make it over to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center one day. They hold seminars over there which would be pretty cool to attend.
 

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If a genetically engineered LMB or a farm raised bass becomes the next world record it will cause a lot of problems within the bass fishing community. Genetically engineered or farm raised bass should be classified separately in my opinion. So farTexas has not been successfull in improving on the growth rate of Florida strain LMB. The program is stocking and managing genetic LMB into Texas reservoirs and bass fisherman tend to restock bass into other regional lakes.
Tom
ps; This may sound like sour grapes on my part, being from California. I do not care where the next world record is caught, as long as it is a legal catch and a natural bass, not a genetic cross between a LMB and a black sea bass for example. There should also be a world record established for northern strain LMB and a separate record (currently 22.25 lbs-Perry) for the Florida strains.
 
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oldschool said:
So farTexas has not been successfull in improving on the growth rate of Florida strain LMB.
Where did you get that information from.  They have taken bass and increased there growth tremendioulsy.  If they didn't then we wouldn't have the funding for this program.  We have produced MANY bass over the 15lb mark which was unheard of many years ago for the state of Texas.  And then we are still surviving from the "bass virus."  We may not be producing world record bass right now but just wait and see. 

Maybe we should do what California does and allow or bass to benifit off of trout.  Between trout and genetics (DNA), we could have a 25-26 lb bass.  LOL

We have to realize that without the tech. and other factors that we have today we would never come close to Perry's record bass. 

I don't think Texas is looking to make the new world record bass.  I think they want a big bass that can produce big if not bigger bass.  I'm sure they would love to become the new state that would hold the record but I don't think it is there sole purpose.  If so they could have already done it.
 
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The collection of bass for The Share A Lunker Program runs from October 1st through April 30th. You are given a plastic replica of the fish and your name goes on a plaque in Athens. The bass can be released in any body of water chosen by the person who catches it and by the person who catches it.
Lake Alen Henry has just come into the big bass arena and, I think that, last year was the first year they put a bass into the program.
Lake Fork has the most entries almost every year. A buddy of mine caught one in Lake Conroe, 13.5 #'s, and put it into the program a couple of years ago.
 
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Ok there seems to be some misinformation so I hope to clear some of it up. I used to live in Texas and have my own opinions about the ShareLunker program.

For one they do not give a "plastic" replica but a fiberglass replica made by Lake Fork Taxidermy. They are excellent quality. Also, they will keep the fish for as long as it takes to spawn. Sometimes that takes 2 years. Then after the fish has spawned they will give the angler who caught it a chance to return that same fish back to the lake he caught it or keep it and eat it (ahemm Bobby ;) ) and or release it in a private lake he owns. Basically the fish can be done with whatever the angler wishes.

Now this is my opinion on the matter. I have looked at this for a long time and facts are facts. Every year 20-30 lunkers are submitted into this program and only a handfull ever make it back to the lake they came from. Most are donated to the program where they spend the rest of their lives and some are eaten or released in a private pond or even donated to BPS tanks. Case I am making is every year there are dozens of 13+ lb bass that are REMOVED from the lakes in Texas. It takes a long time to grow bass that big so every year Texas takes a step backward with respect to teen fish. Yes new fish take their place but that is it. We are not seeing the 17lbers or 18lbers like they used to back in the late 80's early 90's. Incidentally that was when the SHareLunker program began. So has it grown bigger bass? NO!!!!

It has hampered the true giants that Texas would have seen without this program. This is why in my opinion California manages their lakes better then any other state. They are the strictest, and have the most difficult rules on how to catch and when to catch etc. Plus, people there are extremem catch and release. In Texas like most everywhere else allot of good ole boys like to keep bigger bass for some strange reason.

Maybe the ShareLunker program is helping future generations and I will give it that. But it is not helping them achieve a world record bass. Which is why they initiated this program in the first place. Too many are removed and thus the lakes have to start all over again each year. By leaving those 13lbers in the lake by the following year now you have 14 and 15lbers swimming around.

I like the concept of giving the angler a replica but my twist on it would be we will give you a replica so that you can turn the fish loose so this fish can get bigger and not hang on someone's wall whre IT DOESN'T BELONG!!! Let the fiberglass replica hang on the wall they look better anyway and last longer. I have one. Made by the same folks at Lake Fork Taxidermy. They do great work.

Just my 2 cents. Oh Allen Henry has contributed to this program more then just last year. It is now the top lunker lake in all of Texas. But like Fork all those teen bass are being removed each year so it won't produce any 17, 18's or 19lbers because of it.
 

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California started it's Florida bass transplants with pure Florida strain LMB from Cypress Springs FL. To date nothing grows faster than pure Florida strains in California or anywhere else for that matter. As the pure Florida's intregrate with other native bass, the growth rate changes and the bass tend to max out at 15 to 17 lbs. We have lakes that do not have any trout, lake Hodges for example, where pure Florida's have reached 20.4 lbs. It's not the trout diet, it is the whole echosystems heath at the time the bass are introduced that affects the growth rate. I have caught 2 bass that exceed the Texas record and know these special bass better than most fisherman. It's my opinion that genetically altering these bass is not a good thing for our sport. I believe Texas should have stayed with the pure Florida LMB they stated with.
Tom
ps; told you this would be controversial!
 
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Oldschool, I would have to agree with you on this. Would love to see the pics of your fish that are bigger then 18lbs. I never get tired of seeing huge bass. One day I hope to have one on the end of my line.

However, I will say that I doubt bass grow faster anywhere in the country then right here in Florida. This is where they are from and we get up to 3lbs per year in some lakes. Not all lakes mind you. I have heard that the Stick Marsh had growth rates like that.
 

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KeithsCatch said:
Oldschool, I would have to agree with you on this. Would love to see the pics of your fish that are bigger then 18lbs. I never get tired of seeing huge bass. One day I hope to have one on the end of my line.

However, I will say that I doubt bass grow faster anywhere in the country then right here in Florida. This is where they are from and we get up to 3lbs per year in some lakes. Not all lakes mind you. I have heard that the Stick Marsh had growth rates like that.
Florida strain LMB are a different specie of bass than northern LMB. For example Florida's have 64 to 69 lateral line pore scales and grow about 2 inches longer. Northern LMB have 58 or less lateral line pore scales and growth under 28" length.The larger skeleton carries more weight per inch, for example my largest northern LMB is 12.3 lbs and 26.5" long X 21" girth, the 18.8 Florida was 28.5" long X28" girth! Different bass that may look alike, they are not the same. There are a few In-Fisherman pitures published. Just don't like my photos being everywhere.
Tom
 
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