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Outdoor Notebook — Remembering a bass guide, first ShareLunker and DU gathering cancelled

By Lynn Burkhead
For the Herald Democrat

Mark Pack, a well known figure in Texas bass fishing circles, recently lost a weeks-long battle with COVID-19, succumbing to the virus on Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021.

Known to many as a Lake Fork fishing guide as well as the founder and president of Lake Fork Trophy Bait and Tackle Company, Pack was a driving force in the tungsten-weight fishing market according to BassFan.com editor John Johnson.

According to Johnson, Pack was also the developer of Structure Guard, a weed guard made from a single-strand that attaches to a jig hook just below the barb, enabling the bait to easily slip through thick cover below.

Pack was also an enthusiastic tournament pro, competing on the FLW Tour from 2000 to 2009. The East Texas angler, who fished the Bassmaster Top 150 trail for a couple of seasons and finished 17th at the 2000 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Michigan, cashed a $200,000 winner’s check after triumphing at the 2008 FLW event on Arkansas’ Beaver Lake.

Kelly Jordon, the former Lake Fork guide turned bass fishing pro, was a great friend of Pack’s and alerted me and numerous others to the angler’s deteriorating condition a couple of weeks ago, asking for prayer for Pack and his family as he battled the deadly coronavirus.

When Pack passed away, Jordon — a former Bassmaster Elite Series pro who now competes on Major League Fishing’s Bass Pro Tour — reflected on his friend’s life in a story posted on BassFan.com.

“He was a great man and he was very close to the Lord,” said Jordon in the Bass Fan story. “We can take comfort in that, but at the same time be very mindful of the tragic loss for his family. This was unexpected and it’s a tough deal.”

Jordon said Pack had been hospitalized in ICU since before Christmas. While his longtime friend of nearly 30 years was comatose in his final days, KJ was able to speak to him over the phone and hopes that Pack heard him before passing on.

"I was glad I had that opportunity,” said Jordon in the BassFan.com story. “I was still hoping for a miracle, but it didn't happen. I just can't believe it."

According to Bass Fan, Pack is survived by his wife Donna and adult sons Jason and Josh. He was 59.

Sam Rayburn produces ShareLunker

The 2021 Toyota ShareLunker season began on Jan. 1 and already, there’s a Legacy Class largemouth bass in the books of the long running Texas Parks and Wildlife Department program.

On Jan. 9 — on the eve of a Texas snowstorm that would dump nearly 3 inches of snow on Lufkin and five inches on Nacogdoches — angler Travis Moore used a Carolina-rig to haul in the 13.44-pound largemouth from Sam Rayburn Reservoir in the Pineywoods of East Texas.

Caught during a Bass Champs tournament, the fish was the first ShareLunker Legacy Class bass of the season, a fish of 13-pounds or more.

TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists transported the fish — ShareLunker #586 according to the agency — to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Like other donated Legacy Class bass, which are accepted from Jan. 1 through March 31, biologists are caring for the fish and attempting to spawn her.

“It was a great day on the water at Sam Rayburn,” said Moore in a TPWD press release. “After about 15 or so casts and few good bites, I finally hooked into my first 2021 bass and it was a giant 13.44-pounder.

“We initially weighed her in the boat before taking her to the tournament weigh in where Chad with Bass Champs put her on the scale to get the official number. My heart started beating fast and I was so excited I could have jumped up and down, but I kept my composure.”

His bass is the first Legacy Class 13+ pounder from Sam Rayburn since Stacy Spriggs caught ShareLunker #576, a 13.06-pounder landed on the final day of the 2018 ShareLunker season. Moore’s big bass is also the 27th Legacy Class entry from Big Sam as the East Texas lake continues to enjoy a resurgence after a battle with the largemouth bass virus earlier in the 21st Century.

Texas DU Voluntary Leadership Meeting cancelled

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause havoc, one of the year’s first big outdoors cancellations has occurred in Texas.

That came last week when Brad Hempkins, former Denison resident and Texas Ducks Unlimited state chairman, announced that the Feb. 5 Texas DU Volunteer Leadership Meeting at the Lake Granbury Conference Center has been called off.

"It is with great regret that I am sending the message that our annual Texas Volunteer Leadership Meeting is cancelled," wrote Hempkins. "Given the current climate of COVID-19, the decision was reached that it would not be a safe, responsible or prudent ask of our volunteers and staff to travel under these circumstances."

"That being said, our mission has not changed. Your willingness and participation is as vital now as it has ever been. I ask that you and your committees stay the course. Be wise and well. I look forward to seeing you all again very soon."