Ever since rains refilled Falcon International Reservoir, TPWD Inland Fisheries biologist Randy Myers has been holding his breath, waiting for the Rio Grande reservoir to start turning out big bass.

Myers is now breathing again.

On Sunday, Dec. 20, 2009 — a date that will live in Randy Myers’ memory — Debbie Baker of Wartrace, Tenn., pulled in Toyota ShareLunker 474 from Falcon. The fish weighed 13.26 pounds on the certified scale at Robert’s Tackle in Zapata, an official ShareLunker receiving station. It was 25 inches long and 20.125 inches in girth.

Baker was fishing in 25 feet of water with a Brushhog shortly after noon.

According to Myers, Baker’s feat is sure to be repeated a number of times in the next three years. “We had a major habitat improvement in 2003 and 2004 due to rains,” Myers said. “It takes seven to 10 years for a bass to reach 13 pounds, and fish in that lake can do it in seven. Falcon is going to pump out a bunch of big ones in the next few years.”

Anyone legally catching a 13-pound or bigger largemouth bass from Texas waters, public or private, between October 1 and April 30 may submit the fish to the Toyota ShareLunker program by calling program manager David Campbell at 903-681-0550 or paging him at 888-784-0600 and leaving a phone number including area code. Fish will be picked up by TPWD personnel within 12 hours.

ShareLunker entries are used in a selective breeding program at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens, Texas. Some of the offspring from these fish are stocked back into the water body from which they were caught. Other ShareLunker offspring are stocked in public waters around the state in an attempt to increase the overall size and growth rate of largemouth bass in Texas.

Anglers entering fish into the Toyota ShareLunker program will receive a free replica of their fish, a certificate and ShareLunker clothing and be recognized at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens on June 5, 2010. In addition, if a Texas angler catches the largest entry of the year, that person will receive a lifetime fishing license.

For complete information and rules of the Toyota ShareLunker program, tips on caring for big bass and a recap of last year’s season, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/sharelunker. The site also includes a searchable database of all fish entered into the program along with pictures where available.

The Toyota ShareLunker Program is made possible by a grant to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Foundation from Gulf States Toyota. Toyota is a long-time supporter of the Foundation and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, providing major funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.