O.H. Ivie Lake is the most popular large bass lake in Texas proper now, producing a number of double-digit fish previously a number of years. That features the Lone Star State’s second 17-pound bass previously 12 months, this 17.03-pound largemouth that hardly misses the lake document mark, caught on Feb. 13, 2023 by information Jason Conn. (Photograph courtesy of Jason Conn)

As the present rush in direction of a brand new Texas state document largemouth bass continues, we noticed extra large fish information coming from the West Texas lunker manufacturing unit at O. H. Ivie Lake the day earlier than Valentine’s. That occurred when phrase got here on social media that one other enormous bass had been caught on the nation’s hottest bass lake, a sowbelly that some observers famous was a gizzard shad or bluegill away from being the brand new Texas state document largemouth.

“Jason Conn simply caught a high 50 largemouth bass from O.H. Ivie!” famous the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division’s Fishing Twitter account on Monday. “ShareLunker 642 weighed in at 17.03 kilos and is among the largest Lunkers to hit the scales in Texas historical past!! His Legacy Class Lunker is the eighth heaviest Texas largemouth bass of all time. Superb! Congratulations, Jason and thanks to your contribution!”

When you’re protecting rating at house, that makes the second 17-pounder formally caught at O.H. Ivie previously 12 months, becoming a member of a 17.06-pound largemouth caught there final February by angler Brodey Davis. And should you take note of the Texas fishing scene, you then would possibly keep in mind that the Brodey fish precipitated every kind of pleasure final winter because it was the seventh largest bass in Texas historical past and the most important lunker landed in some 30-years.

Conn’s lunker is the most important bass caught in Texas…in 12 months. And identical to the huge lunker caught final February, Conn’s sweetheart of a largemouth has precipitated fairly a stir in Texas with all kinds of media reaching out to him and wanting to seek out out extra a few fish that made some large waves at a lake accustomed to doing so previously couple of years.

“I’ve had one million calls the previous couple of days,” Conn stated on Valentine’s Day as he talked to writers and tv anchors throughout the Lone Star State. “It has been pure madness, from individuals right here on the lake to all the social media and information organizations (wanting to listen to about it).”

The massive bass catch itself had a little bit of madness connected to it as properly, one thing that went down in a matter of seconds.

“The entire thing was a God-given present for me,” Conn, who has guided on Lake Fork for 10 years and now guides on O.H. Ivie, stated. “I used to be educating a shopper easy methods to use (Garmin) LiveScope, and I threw on the market in entrance of the boat to a fish that was on the display screen. The wind was blowing and the boat was drifting again, and I occurred to look down and I see this enormous fish beneath the trolling motor. I inform the shopper, ‘Take a look at that ShareLunker beneath the trolling motor!’ I take two steps again and on the third step, she hit it.”

In a strike the place Conn says the large bass smoked his Shane’s Baits Blades of Glory Alabama-rig—a typical bait used within the LiveScope recreation {that a} group of anglers at O.H. Ivie are perfecting for enormous bass—the information says whole chaos ensued. After rearing again and setting the hook on his Odiehammer rod, a Daiwa baitcasting reel and 25-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line did the remainder, muscling the massive fish to the boat.

The 42-year outdated Conn, who was born in close by San Angelo, is not any stranger to catching large bass at O.H. Ivie over the previous 12 months as his guiding turf has shifted from East Texas again to the west. His fishing profession at Lake Fork and his current O.H. Ivie lunker catches—together with a 14.08-pound bass in December, a 12.38 in January, two 11’s in January, and a ten.25 in January—all taught him easy methods to deal with the battle with a monster bass.

“Normally, after they come up behind an A-rig, they knock slack into the road,” he stated. “After I felt that, I reeled down and popped her actual arduous to set the hook.”

That was the straightforward half. However the subsequent 40-plus seconds—caught on a video posted to Jason Conn Fishing’s Fb web page—have been something however straightforward as he wrestled the large fish to the web.

“It’s a giant one!” exclaimed Conn because the fish lastly was secured.

As stunning because it is likely to be, Conn wasn’t all that shocked that he caught the whopper pre-Valentine’s Day bass.

“I caught her in 12-feet of water as we have been fishing salt cedars subsequent to a giant rock pile,” he stated. “I discovered a pile of what I name ShareLunkers on the graph final week and I went again to that spot on Monday when I discovered that group of fish as soon as once more. However they wouldn’t chew as we have been working the sting of the salt cedar. And all of a sudden, there she was, hanging out by the salt cedars all by herself, most likely attempting to flee the (angling) stress.”

closeup photo of large largemouth bass
O.H. Ivie Lake continued its red-hot angling run as of late when information Jason Conn caught this 17.03-pound Legacy Class ShareLunker on Feb. 13, 2023. The fish, which barely missed topping the lake document set final February, is the eighth largest bass caught in Texas historical past in keeping with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Division. (Photograph courtesy of TPWD/ShareLunker)

That fishing stress has been caused by the swarm of anglers which have descended upon O.H. Ivie previously a number of years because the 19,149-acre lake has loved a resurgence. Mendacity on the Colorado and Concho rivers in Concho, Coleman, and Runnels counties in West Texas, the lake is a few 55 miles east of San Angelo and was impounded in 1990. It obtained periodic stockings of Florida-strain largemouths via the tip of the twentieth Century.

In February 2000, the lake began to indicate its future promise when Bobbie Gayle caught the lake’s first ShareLunker, a 13.05-pound then lake document pulled from the West Texas water physique. Over the following couple of years, Gayle and her husband Butch would land two extra of the lake’s first 5 ShareLunkers, all of these caught between 2000 and 2002.

However simply as all of a sudden as O.H. Ivie was bursting onto the scene, the massive bass bonanza dried up over the remainder of the 2000s. In truth, it wasn’t till 2010 that one other TPWD ShareLunker was caught, a 12 months which produced a tremendous 12 ShareLunkers between 13.04-pounds and 16.08-pounds. Over the following two seasons, the lake would produce eight extra ShareLunkers earlier than one other quiet interval ensued, one which lasted all the best way into March 2020.

That is when the present run of O.H. Ivie ShareLunker glory started with one such fish in 2020, 12 ShareLunkers in 2021, 12 extra in 2022, and eight extra to this point this 12 months’s collection-season window for the TPWD program, through which anglers quickly mortgage bass weighing 13-pounds or extra for spawning functions.

In accordance with Conn—who fished the lake as a teen additional east in Texas—the lake’s location is each a blessing and a curse, one thing that the on-again, off-again nature of rainfall and O.H. Ivie’s ShareLunker manufacturing attests to. 

In an space of the state that averages roughly 20-inches of rainfall annually, the arid area is commonly affected by drought that reduces O.H. Ivie to a fraction of its full dimension. In truth, as that is written, the lake sits at solely 39.1-percent of its full pool capability, and that’s an enormous enchancment over what it was somewhat greater than a decade in the past when crippling drought and searing triple-digit summertime warmth gripped most of Texas. 

In San Angelo, that notorious drought was so dangerous in 2011 that solely 9.21 inches of rainfall occurred and O.H. Ivie was lowered to not more than the river channel in keeping with Conn.

However because the drought continued on via 2014, two notably necessary issues have been additionally happening at O.H. Ivie, he says. The primary was substantial progress of brushy vegetation just like the salt cedars dotting the lakebed. The second was a brand new infusion of Florida-strain largemouth genetics into the lake, finishing the recipe for O.H. Ivie’s resurgence simply because the rains returned and introduced the lake to almost two-thirds full a few years in the past.

These stockings over the previous decade by TPWD Inland Fisheries biologists embrace 267,201 Florida bass fingerlings in 2010; 34,064 ShareLunker offspring fingerlings in 2011; 383,483 Florida bass fingerlings in 2014; and 193,113 Florida bass fingerlings in 2016. These stockings make up the age lessons of fish that Conn says are being caught now, leading to the latest ShareLunker explosion at O.H. Ivie that has produced 56 official ShareLunkers since 2000 (over half of which have come previously couple of years).

That tally contains Conn’s pre-Valentine’s Day sweetheart of a bass, a largemouth that was only a scant .03 kilos off the lake document set final February. 

What’s extra, the information says that his fish may have weighed much more since quite a lot of digital scale weights have been obtained—Conn says the bass weighed 17.10 in his boat and 17.08 on the weighing at Elm Creek Marina—earlier than TPWD confirmed the bass’ weight at 17.03-pounds.

What has adopted all of that large bass chaos for Conn is a curious mixture of elation over his catch, a twinge of disappointment that the large sowbelly missed the lake document, and anticipation of what’s but to return. As a result of Conn is aware of full properly what the lake is able to, and he says that’s a possible state document that would topple the 18.18-pound benchmark set a technology in the past by a Lake Fork bass caught by Barry St. Clair on Jan. 24, 1992.

In truth, he’s engaged on catching that fish proper now, a fish noticed by Conn on his LiveScope graph, a bass that the information believes is properly above the 18-pound mark

“I really feel that I’ve as a lot an opportunity to catch a state document right here as anybody else does,” he stated. “There may even be a world document in there, who is aware of? There have been two 17’s, the one final 12 months after which my fish the opposite day. I feel there’s undoubtedly an even bigger one on the market, and possibly even just a few extra. Like I stated, I’ve seen her on my graph. I’m going to maintain at it, preserve doing what I do.”

Lynn Burkhead is a Senior Digital Editor with Outside Sportsman Group.

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