TYLER, Texas — This is the story of one of the largest bass ever caught in Texas. It happened this week at O.H. Ivie Lake, about 50 miles east of San Angelo.
That's where Lake Fork Fishing Guide Jason Conn caught the largest known living bass in Texas. Visit Jason Conn Fishing and on his Facebook page you'll see the catch of a lifetime.
Conn was fishing with a client, showing his client how to target and catch some of the biggest bass in the country. O.H. Ivie is currently the go-to lake for catching these huge bass. Conn was floating a bait over another fishes head when the eighth largest bass in Texas history smashed the bait.
Here's how Conn described it to me in a recent interview while he was on his way to guide another trip.
“So I’m just reelin' my bait in," Conn said, "And I look down and I’m like dude, that's a ShareLunker and my client goes 'what', and about that time he looks down, I take two steps back and my baits going over her head and he watches her just smash the bait,” Conn continued. "The fight was on from there, she smoked it you know and we’re bouncing around the boat, trying to get the net out, the adrenaline going, some bad words might have come out.”
Conn took the fish to a nearby marina to officially weigh it and donate it to the Texas Parks and Wildlife ShareLunker program.
“But like I said, when we weighed her again after she was in the tank with the minnows. She weighed more. But we’re not going to use that weight," Conn said. "She could’ve got in there and ate some of those minnows. Just don’t want to catch any backlash from it. I had to bite the bullet and take the 17-oh-three weight.”
The fish made it successfully to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. The T-F-F-C is home to the Lunker Bunker. That is where all ShareLunkers stay until it's time to spawn.
Natalie Goldstrohm is the ShareLunker program coordinator. She said Jason Conn's ShareLunker is sitting up and on the bottom of of it's own tank. Goldstrohm said that's a good sign.
"This fish came in as the 8th largest largemouth bass ever reported to Texas Parks and Wildlife and it’s the sixth largest ShareLunker that’s ever been donated during the season," Goldstrohm said.
Geneticists study fin clips from ShareLunkers to determine if they are pure Florida bass or descendants from other ShareLunkers. When the time is right, this spring, biologists hope a romance blossoms and these legacy ShareLunkers will spawn.
“And when those conditions are right," Goldstrohm said. "We actually have male brood fish that are off spring of other legacy class ShareLunkers bass that we’ll bring in and we’ll match them up with the ShareLunkers that have been donated this season so when those off spring hatch, genetically they have the potential from both parents to be a lunker bass in the future.”
Once the fish spawn, ShareLunkers can be returned to their home lakes. That means Conn's massive fish would go back to O.H. Ivie Lake. But it’s Conn's decision.
“I don’t know what I want to do with her," Conn continued. "I haven’t decided if I want to put her back in the lake or just let them hold on to her to see what she can become, because there’s not another bass that big that’s knowingly living in Texas right now."
Conn said he’s not done catching ShareLunkers. Texas is known for big bass and he wants people to keep coming and fishing Texas and as a guide he loves catching them and putting people on big bass.