The Tuff-Man Series closed out its regular season in grand fashion Sunday on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir with the tournament’s big fish now a pending lake record.
While fishing with his tournament partner, Todd Loggains of Copperas Cove, Killeen angler Justin Rogers hooked the largest of the five fish the pair would weigh in at around 1:30 p.m.
The fish was big and healthy and stayed healthy as it was held in the livewell of Rogers’ boat until being weighed and then placed into the tournament’s recovery tank for recuperation and observation.
When the fish was weighed on certified scales, it was verified by two witnesses with a weight of 13.00 pounds, thus qualifying the fish for entry into the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s ShareLunker Program and eclipsing the weight of the current lake record largemouth bass.
The current record of 12.74 pounds has been in place since August 2008.
Rogers’ fish, which measured 27½ inches in length, earned him and Loggains $5,000 for the tournament win with a total five-fish weight of 20.68 pounds. The behemoth bass also earned the anglers an additional $500 for the big-fish prize.
In all, 75 teams turned out for the final regular season event prior to the series’ championship round to be held in conjunction with the Central Texas Boat Show on Jan. 25-26.
The water surface temperature stood around 59 degrees, with balmy air temperatures in the 70s, fair skies and a brisk southwest breeze blowing a steady 14 mph from mid-morning on.
The consensus among the anglers I spoke to was that the fish fed over the entire duration of the tournament.
Although the TPWD ShareLunker program only accepts fish into their captive breeding program from January through March, anglers catching qualifying fish of 13 or more pounds at any time of year may be entered into the ShareLunker Legend division for prizes and a chance to win $5,000 in the annual grand prize drawing.
At the request of ShareLunker personnel, a single scale was removed from near the base of the fish’s tail for genetic testing in order to see which — if any— previous ShareLunker fish this fish may have descended from. For many years now TPWD has made a concerted effort to breed and stock largemouth bass with superior genetics through the ShareLunker program.
In all, 265 fish were weighed in during the tournament with a total weight of 645.11 pounds, or an average per-fish weight of 2.43 pounds.