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Toyota ShareLunker Program Launches 35th Season

Toyota ShareLunker logo
Sharelunker - young man with large bass

The turning of the calendar to January signals the beginning of the 35th season of the Toyota Sharelunker program. The year-round Toyota Sharelunker program offers four levels of participation for catching bass over 8 pounds or 24 inches in Texas.

“We are excited to kick off another ShareLunker season,” said Toyota Sharelunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear. “Not only for the selective spawning and stocking of these world-class offspring, but also to help gather vital catch and genetic data to help our fisheries biologists better manage trophy bass populations throughout the great fisheries of Texas.”

“We are excited to kick off another ShareLunker season,” said Toyota Sharelunker Program Coordinator Kyle Brookshear. “Not only for the selective spawning and stocking of these world-class offspring, but also to help gather vital catch and genetic data to help our fisheries biologists better manage trophy bass populations throughout the great fisheries of Texas.”

During the first three months of the season (Jan. 1 through March 31), anglers who reel in a 13+ pound bass can loan it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 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 until April 1, 2021.

Anglers who catch and donate one of these 13+ 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 and a high-quality replica of their lunker fish. 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 and an annual fishing license.

Anglers who enter data for any lunker they catch greater than 8 lbs. or 24 inches during the calendar year 2021 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. ShareLunker

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Use these six heat hacks to stay safe this summer

Last year, as temperatures soared into the triple digits in Texas, 48 Texas State Parks handled 129 heat-related illnesses in humans and pets. Now that temperatures are steadily climbing, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is sharing their top six heat hacks for staying safe in the outdoors.

  1. Hydrate– It’s important to drink at least 16 ounces of water every hour in the heat to replenish your body and prevent dehydration. Don’t forget to bring enough for your four-legged family members too.


  2. Block the Rays –Apply a generous amount of sunscreen or sunblock before heading outdoors. Be sure to reapply every couple of hours, and after swimming or sweating.


  3. Dress Smart– Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing; a hat, correct shoes, sunscreen and wet bandanas to keep you cool while in the sun. For pets, protect paws against blistering by hitting the trails during cooler times of the day when the ground isn’t hot or by putting booties on pets to help shield paws from the hot ground. Touch the pavement or ground with the back of your hand. If you cannot hold it there for five seconds, the surface is too hot for your dog’s paws.


  4. Stay Salty– Food helps keep up energy and replace salt lost from sweating. Eating snacks such as jerky, granola, trail mix, tuna and dried fruit is a fantastic way to nourish your body while on the trails.


  5. Buddy System– Two brains are better than one. It’s beneficial to have someone with you in hot conditions so you can look after each other on the trail. With high temperatures hitting Texas, heat-related illnesses are common and having a friend around to help recognize the early symptoms can save you from getting sick.


  6. Plan Ahead-Study the map and have it with your. Average hikers move at 2 miles per hour, so allow yourself plenty of time to avoid hiking in the heat of the day. Make sure to rest in a cool or shaded area to recover from the heat if necessary. it is also a good idea to let someone know your plan before you hit the trails and what time you should be back. That way, if you become lost, people know where to look.

For more information about heat safety, visit the TPWD website.

All guests, including annual pass holders, are encouraged to pre-purchase or register for day passes and overnight reservations in advance through the Texas State Parks Reservation System before heading out to a state park. Park capacities are limited, and permits sell out fast.  If purchasing a permit at the park, keep in mind that only credit card transactions can occur.  Cash is not being accepted at this time as a form of payment.  Reservations can be made online at or by calling 512-389-8900.

Existing social distancing standards and public health recommendations remain in effect including the recommendation to wear face coverings and bring one’s own supply of hand sanitizer. Face coverings are strongly encouraged when approaching others closer than six feet or when entering buildings with other guests. State parks will also continue the requirement of social distancing from individuals outside of their party, including the prohibition of the gathering of groups larger than ten, or any number that are not part of the same family or household.

Find a park in your area at

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Lake Texoma striper fishing – as good as it gets

Lake Texoma Striper Fishing

By Luke Clayton

June 29, 2020

Sitting under the covered boathouse at Mill Creek Resort on Lake Texoma last week, several boats loaded with anglers anxious to get out on the water for a morning of striper fishing were sipping coffee and making small talk. I was in one of these boats, along with my grandson Jackson Zimmerman and good friend Jeff Rice.  Rain was pounding on the metal roof above us and off in the distance, lightning was popping and thunder booming.

Prudent guides do not take their clients out in such conditions. Guide Chris Carey with Striper Express is a prudent guide; he is also a highly skilled one with years of striper catching experience. Chris held his cell phone up for us to take a look at the weather radar. We could look at the sky, off in the distance and easily identify the two banks of ‘heavy’ weather that encircled the lake that were showing up on radar.

“It appears both these cells are moving around the lake, we might just luck out and get out on the water after all. We could possibly catch fish closer, but a 26-mile boat ride should put us right in the middle of some striper action that you will have to experience to believe,” says Chris as the rain continues to hammer on the metal roof.

Chris had briefed me on a pattern he had discovered a few days earlier. He had located some big schools of stripers that were feeding on shad at first light in a big cove. The trick to catching them up in the shallow water was getting there soon after the break of day. Because of the storms, we were obviously going to be too late for this early morning action but with the cloud cover, Chris was hoping the fish would continue chasing shad on top for a few hours.

Another glance at radar and it appeared we were going to get the break in weather that we needed. Thirty minutes later, Chris had the throttle down, feeding fuel to the big 300hp engine and we were on our way to the distant hot spot. It doesn’t take long to travel 26 miles with 300 horses pushing on the stern of one’s boat. Chris pulled the throttle back at the mouth of the cove and began glassing the area with binoculars.

“Nothing happening back in this big cove,” Chris tells us. “The stripers must have already pushed all the bait out into the open, deeper water.” 

Chris swung his binoculars around to the open water and fixed his gaze on a patch of water several hundred yards in the distance. I could see a few birds working near the water’s surface.  Sure enough, the big striper schools our guide had been fishing the past few days were right on schedule. 

Normally they would not have been churning the water’s surface on a feeding frenzy this late in the morning, but the overcast conditions prolonged the bite. Actually, the stormy weather with lightning earlier could have postponed the bite entirely.

Stripers are aggressive fish by nature, voracious feeders especially when they have a huge school of shad pushed up close to the surface.  This was my grandson’s first time to experience a big school of surface feeding stripers pushing bait and Chris handed him a rod with a topwater plug. “Just pick a spot where you see a big fish blow up, throw past him and jerk the bait back so that it will move lots of water.”

Jackson followed instructions and his first cast was perfect, it fell a few feet past a big swirl made by good-sized striper. The fish instantly made its move on the plug and the drag on Jackson’s reel was begrudging allowing the line to peel away in short bursts.  A smooth drag on a reel used for striper fishing is a must and the Sixgill reels Chris uses are ideal; light and smooth, they were up to the task. The reel’s drag system, coupled with the steady pressure applied by the medium action rod, soon had the big fish of the day alongside the boat and in the net. 

While Jackson was enjoying his first top-water striper action, Jeff, Chris and I were throwing Sassy Shads. These baits cast like a rocket and they can be fished using several techniques. With the stripers feeding on top, the trick was to make long casts, hold the rod up high and crank fast so the baits would work just under the surface. The fast gear ration on the reels, 7:1 and 8:1, made it possible to easily keep the baits up near the surface. A feeding striper doesn’t ‘bite’ a lure, it attacks it while on the run and if you’re fishing with a bait caster,  as we were,  it’s important to have the spool tension cranked down, otherwise a birds nest of gigantic proportion is apt to occur.

That first school of feeding stripers kept us busy for a good 15 minutes of steady catching and then they sounded and the action stopped. Then, a couple hundred yards out in deeper water, they began churning the surface again. So the next hour and a half went, periods of steady catching, a lull and then back in the action.

I love catching stripers on all types of lures but I love the feel of a striper nailing a lead slab. There is just something sudden and immediate to the ‘hook up’ when slab fishing. When Chris pointed to a huge school of fish holding near bottom, I tied on a 1.5-ounce slab and began vertical fishing it within a few feet of bottom. BOOM!  A chunky striper crushed it and made a couple of hard runs, deep. Of course, the other guys were staying busy with their Sassy Shads fished deeper but I just HAD to catch a couple on slabs.

The ‘slab bite’ should be underway by the time you are reading this. During this period, huge schools of stripers begin their morning ritual of pushing shad near the surface on runs that often last for several miles. The drill is to get ahead of the fish, catch them as they come by and then, ‘leap frog’ ahead and intercept them again.

Lake Texoma with its natural striper spawn is the mother of all striper lakes and we here in Texas and Oklahoma are fortunate indeed to have such a fishery close by.

Lake Texoma Fishing
Two Lake Texoma fishing legends, Bill Carey and his son Chris, showing off what will become the centerpiece of many tasty fish dinners. (photo by Luke Clayton)

For more information on striper fishing at Texoma, contact Striper Express   Check out ‘A Sportsmans Life’ on YouTube to watch a video of the action.
Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via

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