BALLINGER – O.H. Ivie continued adding to its record run of massive largemouth bass on Wednesday with its 14th Legacy Class fish of the 2023 Toyota ShareLunker collection season. Ryan Muhlig of Colby, Kansas, landed 13.64-pound ShareLunker 649, powering O.H. Ivie’s historic run forward while bumping the overall season total to 17 Legacy Class fish.
Muhlig is the 17th angler to reel in a Legacy Class Lunker in 2023; anglers from seven states (including Texas) have etched their name into the program record books during this year alone. Anglers from Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington have made their way to Texas and brought in a catch of a lifetime. The current three-year run of Legacy Lunkers at O.H. Ivie has helped make it a destination lake for anglers across the nation and the world.
“It was no surprise when O.H. Ivie had an impressive run of ShareLunkers caught in February and into March,” said Natalie Goldstrohm, Toyota ShareLunker program coordinator. “What is remarkable is that Legacy Class Lunkers are being caught in numbers higher than any other collection season in program history and there are still a few weeks left in the season.”
Muhlig and his friend headed out Wednesday knowing they would be battling the wind, but had some points planned out in advance. His friend reeled in a fish and then, not long after that, Muhlig enticed the Legacy Lunker to bite.
“We were fishing in about 10 feet of water and casting into the little stick-ups,” said Muhlig. “I was using a plastic worm and noticed a bigger fish out there. I cast, and the fish turned and looked at it, but didn’t act on it before swimming off. The fish stayed in the area, and this time I had a weedless swimbait lure tied on, so I flipped back out there. I reeled a couple of times and felt the tiniest little tap. It opened its mouth and danced almost all the way into the net from 20 feet out. It was pretty spectacular after that.”
Muhlig quickly weighed the fish, put it in the livewell and immediately headed to the boat ramp. The official weight was registered at Elm Creek and the call was made to the Toyota ShareLunker program.
“Natalie [Goldstrohm] thoroughly explained the process over the phone with me — it was easy to go online and register everything,” said Muhlig. “TPWD staff were great when they arrived and took excellent care of the fish. We got a couple of pictures, placed the fish in their tank and headed off to Athens.”
Since January 2021, O.H. Ivie has been on an unprecedented run, thanks to a combined total of 38 Legacy fish. The lake produced 12 Legacy fish in both the 2021 and 2022 collection seasons and shows no signs of slowing down thanks to Wednesday’s Lunker. ShareLunker 644 is the only fish of the 38 that has been determined to be a recapture from previous seasons; some genetics data are still being analyzed.
During the first three months of the season (January through March), 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.
Anglers who catch and donate a 13-plus pound Lunker earn Legacy Class status, a catch kit filled with merchandise, a 13-plus pound Legacy decal for their vehicle or boat, VIP access to the Toyota ShareLunker Annual Awards event and a high-quality replica mount of their Lunker from Lake Fork Taxidermy. These anglers will also receive entries into two separate contests — a Legacy Class drawing and the year-end Grand Prize drawing. First place in either wins a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and a resident (or non-resident) annual fishing license.
The year-round Toyota ShareLunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over eight pounds or 24 inches in Texas. In addition to Legacy Class (13-plus pounds between January and March), ShareLunker entry classes include the Lunker Class (8-plus pounds), Elite Class (10-plus pounds), and Legend Class (13-plus pounds from April to December).
Anglers who enter data for any Lunker they catch (greater than eight pounds or 24 inches) during the calendar year 2023 also receive a catch kit, a decal for their vehicle or boat and an entry into the year-end Grand Prize drawing to win a $5,000 Bass Pro Shops shopping spree and annual fishing license.
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 basic catch information, anglers can also provide a DNA scale sample from their Lunker bass to TPWD researchers for genetic analysis.
A new procedure is in effect for the 2023 season. Legend Class ShareLunkers no longer need to be weighed on a certified scale for entry. Anglers must include a photo of their Lunker on a digital scale to qualify for Legend Class.
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