Every fisherman dreams of setting a new record, and Kurt Luker of Cleveland, is no different. Luker did in fact, get to set a new record with his catch. Kurt landed a Largemouth Bass at Belton Lake, weighing in at a staggering 13.97 pounds!
It was during the Texas Team Trail Tournament that Kurt landed the monster. It is the largest Largemouth Bass to ever be submitted for a record . Not only that, it is also the first bass from the lake to participate in the Toyota Sharelunker Program. The program encourages anglers who have landed fish weighing more than 13 pounds, to lend their fish to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for collection and spawning.
To date 68 water bodies have produced fish for the program, with Belton Lake being the latest lake to be added. John Tibbs, supervisor of TPWD, who has lived in Waco for some 18 years says that even he is impressed with the huge fish. He was very surprised to hear of a fish that size being caught there, although given climatic events over the years, he thought it may become more regular now.
“Belton Lake is the best smallmouth bass fishery in Central Texas – nothing else even comes close,” John Tibbs said. “But it’s not typically known as a big bass lake or a trophy lake like Lake Fork. So it’s impressive and somewhat unusual to see a fish of this quality come out of there.”
It seems that Belton Lake is more commonly known as a smallmouth bass lake, with very few large fish in it. The lake was stocked with fingerlings back in 1995 and had not been stocked since so it is somewhat unusual to see a fish of that size there.
“We had a huge amount of water in 2007 – it reached 630 feet and sustained that from June to the end of summer,” he adds. “So that year we had a tremendous amount of habitat improvement, we probably had a great spawn and we had a fantastic amount of prey. That fish may have gotten a really good jump-start on growth, and if that’s the case there may be some others out there.”
Tibbs says that drought, followed by heavy rainfall with lots of water may have contributed to the amount of fish there now. With all the forage which would have followed, the fish may have had a head start on growth. If there is one Largemouth Bass there, then it is entirely possible that there are more of them.
“Any lake could have a ShareLunker,” he said. “If Belton Lake is any indication you don’t have to go to Lake Fork for a 13 pound bass – you can still catch one just about anywhere you go.”
It remains to be seen just how many other large fish are out there now. One thing is certain, there is definitely one of them, because Kurt released his fish, now named as Sharelunker 570, back into the lake after biologists verified the fish and took a fin clip.