SAN ANTONIO – A lake about an hour east of San Angelo has become one of the hottest bass fishing lakes in the U.S.
For several years, O.H. Ivie Lake has consistently produced some of the biggest bass in Texas but last week, fishing guide Jason Conn landed a “historic” catch.
Conn, of Anna, reeled in a 17.03-pound largemouth bass — the eighth-heaviest largemouth bass ever caught in Texas — on Feb. 13 at the lake.
The fisherman joined GMSA at 9 on Monday to discuss the historic catch, which he named “Pre-Valentine.”
Conn said he was taking clients on a charter at around 11 a.m. and was showing them the basics of fishing.
Then, he saw her.
“This fish here that I caught, she just happened to be underneath my trolling motor,” he said. “We were drifting back, and I just happened to look down and saw her.”
Using an umbrella rig, he took two steps back to place the lure over her head. The bass saw the bait and went after it, setting the hook.
“The fight was on from there. It was just a wild experience all around,” he said.
The fishermen took the bass to the marina and called the Toyota ShareLunker program, which is from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Representatives from the program went to the lake and collected “Pre-Valentine.”
“They’ll hold her in a facility up there. She’s got her own tank and that’s where she’ll spawn at. She’ll spawn with a ShareLunker male,” Conn said.
He added that “it’s been an unbelievable experience.”
According to TPWD, Conn’s catch was the sixth-heaviest fish donated to the ShareLunker program. He was the 10th angler to submit a fish to the program this year.
“An incredible catch by Conn led to a truly historic day for bass fishing in Texas,” program coordinator Natalie Goldstrohm said in a news release last week. “Bass this large are especially rare and this fish is one of the biggest bass ever caught in Texas. We are thankful to Conn for sharing his catch with the program and for the chance to spawn this exceptional bass with a male ShareLunker descendent, so her offspring have the best genetic potential to grow into Lunker bass.”
The ShareLunker program runs year-round and is aimed at enhancing bass fishing in Texas.
It has four levels of participation:
- Legacy Class, 13-plus pounds between January and March.
- Legend Class, 13-plus pounds from April to December.
- Lunker Class, 8-plus pounds.
- Elite Class, 10-plus pounds.
If anglers catch a fish that meets the criteria, they can enter the fish’s data on the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app or the website TexasSharelunker.com. Anglers can also provide a DNA sample from their bass for genetic analysis.
Anglers who reel in a 13-plus pound bass between January and March can donate it to TPWD for the selective breeding and stocking program.
Anglers are able to win prizes and enter drawings if they submit their catches. For more information, click here.
The “hot lakes” for ShareLunkers include O.H. Ivie, Conroe, Lake Fork, Joe Pool, Walter E. Long Reservoir, Brownwood, Arlington, Athens and Alan Henry.
For the second year in a row, a fisherman at O.H. Ivie has reeled in a fish over 17 pounds, according to TPWD.
The Texas state record is 18.18 pounds, held by Barry St. Clair of Klondike. St. Clair caught the fish in 1992 at Lake Fork.