Outdoor Notebook — Local fishing sizzles, TPWD draw hunts and good bass news

Lynn Burkhead
Herald Democrat

As the month of July prepares to turn into August on the calendar, the summertime fishing action is pretty good around the area. You might even say that it is sizzling in some respects.

For starters, the action on Lake Texoma is good right now according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, especially in the early morning hours. ODWC says that anglers hoping to hook up with striped bass should start with topwaters early, transitioning to slabs and umbrella rigs fished on downriggers as the morning progresses. Most striper action has started near Denison Dam at first light, moving north from there as the day progresses.

On the bass fishing front, this week’s cloud cover, sprinkles of rain, and lower temperatures has resulted in some especially good action for big largemouths. On one local lake, a largemouth weighing nearly 9-pounds was caught and released by an angler.

On Lake Fork, veteran big fish guide Randy Oldfield posted on Facebook a report about an incredible nighttime outing with a longtime client…and he had the pictures to prove it! The trip — which ended at 3:17 a.m. in the morning—included a 40-lb. sack of the five biggest fish. That group of summertime lunkers included a double-digit bass over 10-pounds, an 8.5-pound bass, a 7.5-pound bass, two 7-lbers., and several fish in the 4- to 6-pound range.

Meanwhile, veteran Red River Valley bass guide Chuck Justice posted on social media that he had a terrific morning at McGee Creek this week with several large bass biting on the overcast day.

If striped bass and largemouths aren’t your preferred species to chase out on the water, then keep in mind that ODWC says that the channel catfish action is good right now on Texoma with whiskerfish being steadily caught at baited shallow water holes.

First TPWD Drawn Hunt Deadline — As August arrives on the calendar this weekend, the march towards fall hunting seasons will accelerate too. That includes the first application deadlines for TPWD drawn hunts around the state this fall.

The first such application deadline for drawn hunts is tomorrow, Saturday, August 1 for hunters wanting to apply for hunts for Alligator, Alligator Management, Private Land Dove, Private Lands Pronghorn, Pronghorn, and Youth Only Alligator. To apply for 2020-21 TPWD drawn hunts, please visit TPWD’s website at tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/hunt/public/public_hunt_drawing/deadlines.phtml.

Pro Bass Seasons Continue Pandemic Rebound — As the resumption of sports continues after the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown earlier this year, B.A.S.S. officials announced a big schedule change this week due to the ongoing calendar scramble brought on by effects of the coronavirus. They did so on Thursday with an announcement that the Bassmaster Elite Series event previously scheduled for New York’s Cayuga Lake earlier in July will now be held on Alabama’s Lake Guntersville from Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

Meanwhile, in Elite Series action last weekend, Chris Johnston weighed in 97-pounds, 8-ounces over four days to take the $102,000 top prize at last weekend’s Bassmaster Elite Series event on the St. Lawrence River in New York. Paul Mueller was the runner-up, weighing in 95-14 while popular Texas bass pro Clark Wendlandt finished in eight place with 76-11.

At this week’s Elite Series event on New York’s Lake Champlain, as of press time on Thursday afternoon, Jamie Hartman had the unofficial lead on the BASSTRAKK leaderboard (www.bassmaster.com ) with 22-pounds, 2-ounces. Seth Fieder, Paul Mueller, David Fritts, and Brock Mosley rounded out the first day’s top five as boats started to head for the official weigh-in.

And last, but not least, at this week’s FLW Pro Circuit/Major League Fishing Bass Pro Tour Super Tournament (www.flwfishing.com ) on the Mississippi River in Wisconsin, Tyler Stewart had the unofficial lead towards the end of Day Two on Thursday thanks to a two-day total of 27-pounds, 3-ounces. Bailey Boutries, Matt Lee, Scott Wiley, and Tom Monsoor rounded out the Top 5 on Thursday afternoon as the boats got ready to head to the day’s official weigh-in.

2020 ShareLunker Numbers — As the revamped TPWD Toyota ShareLunker season continues with another good year unfolding, agency officials announced earlier in the week some facts and figures about this year’s program efforts.

One of those news items was that fisheries biologists at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center “Lunker Bunker” in Athens had obtained two successful spawns from one of the four 13-pound or larger Legacy Class bass loaned to the long-time selective breeding program.

Out of those spawns, TPWD hatchery staff were able to produce more than 28,000 largemouth “super bass” fingerlings for stockings in various public waters.

TPWD says that this year, ShareLunker fingerlings were produced and stocked in the 2020 Legacy Class donation lakes (Alan Henry, Nacogdoches, and O.H. Ivie). A portion are also being held back to further the state’s hatchery efforts for future broodfish creation so that TPWD can stock these big-bass offspring by the millions across the state in coming years.

The agency also noted in its news release that some 14,203 advanced fingerlings (excess future broodfish from the 2019 Legacy Class Spawns) were stocked this year into Gilmer Lake, Lake Pflugerville, Lake Kurth, Lake Tyler, Lake Murval, and the ponds lying within the future footprint of Bois d’Ark Lake in Fannin County.

“We are pleased with the number of ShareLunker offspring produced this year, and we couldn’t have done it without the anglers who generously loaned us their 13 pound and larger bass for our selective-breeding program,” said Kyle Brookshear, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator, in a news release. “This generosity doesn’t just increase the lunker potential of the lakes where those fish were caught, it also helps us in our effort to convert our entire hatchery broodstock to ShareLunker offspring, which will benefit every lake in Texas.”

Thanks to an angler donation, the ShareLunker bass that had two successful spawns this spring will now become a part of the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center aquarium exhibit for visitors to enjoy in the future. Also, TPWD notes that one fish did not spawn at all in 2020, but the angler has allowed TPWD to retain the fish in order to attempt to spawn it next spring after which time it will be returned to Lake Alan Henry.

While two ShareLunker fish perished this year due to extenuating circumstances, the agency notes that in the last five years, the SL program has enjoyed an overall fish survival rate of 86-percent during that time span.