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J.B. Thomas Notches First Legacy Class ShareLunker

Athens, TX – J.B. Thomas Reservoir claimed on Wednesday the first Legacy Class ShareLunker largemouth bass of the 2024 Toyota ShareLunker collection season and the waterbody’s first Legacy Class entry.

Lawrence Lee of Temple reeled in ShareLunker 651, registering 13.79 pounds and measuring 24.25 inches. J.B. Thomas is now the 76th public reservoir to produce a Legacy Class ShareLunker.

“What a great way to kick off the 2024 collection season with a Legacy Class ShareLunker from J.B. Thomas” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “J.B. Thomas has never produced a Legacy Class ShareLunker before, and this catch adds to the already impressive number of public reservoirs in Texas that produced Legacy Lunkers. We are very grateful that Lawrence Lee decided to share his catch with the Toyota ShareLunker program so TPWD can continue making bigger, better bass in Texas.”

Lee fished J.B. Thomas the entire day and was about to head back to the dock but decided to check one last spot where he had seen some big fish the past couple of weeks. The fish was there on the scope when he pulled up.

“I made a perfect cast and presented the lure the way she wanted it,” said Lee. “She bit on a crappie-colored swim jig with a swim bait trailer. It was a very subtle bite, and I wasn’t sure if she had it or not. I was fortunate to catch the fish since she was slack most of the way through the fight. I set the hook, she ran straight at the boat and when she was about five feet away, I came tight, and the fish went into the net. We fished all that day and the day before and located a lot of solid fish, but then we found the Legacy Lunker we’d been searching for.”

Lee’s catch was a personal best for largemouth bass. His previous personal best was a 12-pound fish that he caught at O.H. Ivie.

“Honestly I was in shock when I caught her and when she went in the net, I didn’t know how big she was,” added Lee. “I turned to my fishing guide Christian and said she’s definitely over 11 pounds. The adrenaline dump was intense, and we put her on the scale. The wind was blowing hard so the scale we had was fluctuating between 13.5 and 14.5 pounds. We were both elated and yelling in the boat.”

Once the official weight was registered, Lee made the call to report his catch to the Toyota ShareLunker program.

“The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff was great to work with,” said Lee. “I talked to Natalie, and she was really helpful throughout the whole process. I could hear the excitement in her voice too. The Abilene Inland Fisheries Division District arrived quickly to take care of the fish and it was an excellent experience overall. I really appreciate the ShareLunker program, the premise behind it and what it’s doing to make fishing even better here in Texas.”

Prior to Wednesday, J.B. Thomas had 17 entries into the program since 2021, including one Legend Class fish caught Sept. 1, 2023. Nine of those entries were in 2023 alone and the new year is off to a hot start with the lake’s first Legacy Class lunker and two Strike King Elite class fish. Lee’s ShareLunker 651 is also the new waterbody record for J.B. Thomas.

During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13-plus pound bass can loan it to TPWD for the ShareLunker selective breeding and stocking program. These anglers can call the ShareLunker hotline at (903) 681-0550 to report their catch 24/7 through March 31, 2024.

Anglers who catch and loan one of these 13-plus pound lunkers earn Legacy Class status, receive a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13lb+ Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event, a high-quality replica mount of their fish from Lake Fork Taxidermy, and Bass University will provide a swag pack and annual subscription. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate drawings – a Legacy Class Drawing and the year-end Grand Prize Drawing. Both drawings will award the winner a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree.

The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24-inches in Texas.

Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than eight pounds or 24-inches during the 2024 calendar year also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat, a one-month subscription to Bass University and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize Drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree. ShareLunker entry classes include the Bass Pro Shops Lunker Class (8 lb.+), Strike King Elite Class (10 lb.+), and Lew’s Legend Class (13 lb.+).

Once a lunker is reeled in, anglers need to enter the catch data on the Toyota ShareLunker mobile app – available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play – or on the Toyota ShareLunker online app at TexasSharelunker.com.

In addition to providing basic catch information, anglers have the option to send a DNA scale sample from their lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis. Anglers who contribute a sample to the program in 2024 will receive a Lew’s baitcast reel valued at up to $200 while supplies last, with a limit of one reel per angler. Anglers that send in a genetic sample will also get a three-month subscription to Bass University. Instructions for submitting DNA samples are located on the Toyota ShareLunker website.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of Toyota. Toyota is a longtime supporter of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and TPWD, providing major funding for a wide variety of fisheries, state parks and wildlife projects.

Additional vital program support comes from Legend class category prize sponsor Lew’s, Elite class category prize sponsor Strike King, Lunker class category prize sponsor Bass Pro Shops, American Fishing Tackle Co., Bass Forecast, Bass University, Lake Fork Taxidermy and 6th Sense Fishing. For updates on the Toyota ShareLunker Program, visit facebook.com/sharelunkerprogram/, https://www.instagram.com/TexasShareLunker/ or TexasSharelunker.com.

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