‘I was in disbelief’: Texas man lands 14 pound largemouth bass

U.S. & World
14 lb bass

Blake Cockrell, of Lubbock, Texas, shows off the 14-pound bass he says left him in “disbelief” when he pulled it from the water. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.)

LUBBOCK, Texas (KLBK) — A Texas angler said he was stunned to pull a 14 pound largemouth bass out of the water at Lake Alan Henry Reservoir in West Texas Sunday.

“When I put my hands on her to lift her out of the water and land her in the boat, I was in disbelief,” Blake Cockrell said.

The exceptional size qualified the fish for the Toyota ShareLunker program, which uses catch-and-release fishing to selectively breed trophy-size largemouth bass. Cockrell’s catch is the first Toyota Sharelunker “Legacy Class Bass Entry” for 2020.

The Toyota ShareLunker program was created in 1986 by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and provides funding for a wide variety of education, fish, parks and wildlife projects.

Lake Alan Henry, which is located southeast of Lubbock, has produced 28 ShareLunker entries since 2000, all of them ranging from 13 to 15 pounds.

Read part of the release by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department below.

Just days after being blanketed in snow, West Texas lake Alan Henry Reservoir produced the first Legacy Class largemouth bass entry of the 2020 Toyota ShareLunker season Feb. 9. Angler Blake Cockrell of Lubbock caught the 14.36 pound, 26.25 inch largemouth bass on a crankbait in 5-10 feet of water while targeting spotted bass on the lake.

“When I put my hands on her to lift her out of the water and land her in the boat, I was in disbelief,” Cockrell said. “I said out loud, ‘you’re something special.’ At that moment I knew this fish was bigger than anything I’ve ever caught.”

After notifying the Toyota ShareLunker program of his catch, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries biologists quickly dispatched to collect and transport “ShareLunker 582” to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, where biologists will attempt to spawn her and produce bigger, better bass to stock in and enhance fishing in Texas lakes. Cockrell said loaning the fish to TPWD for the selective breeding program was important to him because he’s seen first-hand what stocking ShareLunker offspring has done for the bass fisheries in nearby lakes.

“We have a lake by us called J.B. Thomas that has been stocked with ShareLunker bass, and they are growing 3-4 pounds a year,” Cockrell said. “I’ve seen what the program has done in the past and the things it has done for people.”

Although East Texas typically produces the Toyota ShareLunker program’s first and biggest entries most years, TPWD fisheries biologists urge anglers not to sleep on West Texas as a bass fishing destination. In 2019, O.H. Ivie Reservoir near San Angelo was among the top five ShareLunker producing lakes for the year, and Alan Henry Reservoir has produced 28 ShareLunker entries ranging from 13 to 15 pounds since 2000.  

“We are very excited that Alan Henry Reservoir has produced the first – and so far the biggest – Toyota ShareLunker entry of the year,” said Caleb Huber, TPWD Inland Fisheries District Supervisor for Amarillo. “This proves you shouldn’t underestimate West Texas if you want to catch the fish of a lifetime. Although our lakes are prone to fluctuating water levels and drought, increased rainfall over the last few years has greatly improved water levels and the production of larger bass, and I’m hopeful of more good things to come.”

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