February 2, 2009
Athens, Texas - Ricky Bearden of Conroe set a new water
body record for largemouth bass January 30 when he pulled a
15.93-pound fish from two feet of water in Lake Conroe.
The big bass now holds the number 24 spot on the list of the top
50 largemouth bass ever caught in Texas.
Bearden was fishing with a plastic worm in 54-degree water when
the big bass took the bait about 12:15 p.m. Friday. The fish was
27 inches long and 22 inches in girth.
"It’s one of the healthiest-looking fish entered into the
ShareLunker program in some time," said ShareLunker program
manager David Campbell.
The fish is the second ShareLunker to come from Lake Conroe during
the current season. On December 13 Kyle Nitschke used a crankbait
to land a 13.07-pound fish that is the junior angler state record
"What’s driving this is the continued stocking of Lake Conroe with
Florida largemouth bass," said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
(TPWD) fisheries biologist Mark Webb, who manages the fishery. "In
addition to the bass that TPWD stocks, the Lake Conroe Restocking
Association purchases fish from Tyler Fish Farms and stocks them
into the lake after they have been tested and certified to be
Since 2000 more than 1.7 million Florida largemouth bass
fingerlings have been stocked into the lake.
Lake Conroe has also been the object of intensive vegetation
management by TPWD and the San Jacinto River Authority, resulting
in the removal of most of the hydrilla in the lake. Native
vegetation is being established in its place. "Anglers are
figuring out how to fish the lake in the absence of hydrilla,"
said TPWD fisheries technician Mike Gore. "They’re throwing more
crankbaits and Carolina-rigged plastic worms. The fish are out
there. You just have to know how to catch them."
Lake Conroe has now produced 14 ShareLunkers. Only Lake Fork, Lake
Alan Henry and Sam Rayburn Reservoir have produced more
Anyone legally catching a largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or
more from Texas waters, public or private, can enter the fish into
the ShareLunker program. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel
and taken to the Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where they
are used in a selective breeding program that aims to increase the
size and number of big bass in Texas. To have a fish picked up,
call David Campbell at (903) 681-0550 or page him at (888)
784-0600 and leave a number, including area code. Anglers receive
a fiberglass replica of their catch and ShareLunker clothing.