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From the Pen of Carter P. Smith

My first experience with a bass came as a boy of 7 or 8 years of age on one of those typical, lazy, South Texas summer days. My uncle and I were fishing for perch on a ranch stock tank, when a bass hit my baited hook and almost ripped the rod and reel out of my young hands. As I recall it now, I don't think the bass was really all that big, but the ensuing battle to reel it in was high drama, and the smile on my uncle's face after I landed that fish still sticks with me today. I hope every Texas kid is blessed with such an experience.

Texas is bass country, pure and simple. Our nearly 2 million acres of public lakes, streams and reservoirs offer some of the finest bass fishing in all of North America. The fabled Lake Fork near Mineola in East Texas is arguably our best-known bass fishery. Out of that one body of water alone, anglers have donated 250 bass more than 13 pounds in size to our ShareLunker program in order to enhance the quality of fish spawned at our three freshwater fish hatcheries.

Lately though, Lake Fork has had plenty of company. Improved water conditions at places such as Falcon and Amistad lakes in South Texas have resulted in some pretty impressive catches, even by Lake Fork standards. And those are by no means the only places generating record-size fish. Suffice to say, Texas waters, both fresh and salty, are destinations no angler should pass by.

It didn't happen by accident. Our team of fisheries biologists and technicians has worked assiduously over the years to create a statewide fishery that is both well-managed and easily accessible for all anglers, young and old. Through our inland and coastal fish hatchery programs, vigorous restocking efforts, extensive public education, enforcement and outreach initiatives, habitat improvements and carefully designed harvest regulations, our group of dedicated professionals has built a fishery all Texans can be proud of.

But don't just take my word for it. Get out and see for yourself, whether it is sight-casting for redfish on the lower Laguna Madre or pursuing the white bass run on the Pedernales. The fish are always biting somewhere.

At the department, one of our highest priorities is getting kids into the great outdoors. We'd like your help, and taking a kid fishing is an easy way to accomplish that. At many of our state parks, we offer free fishing and loaner tackle for kids. Through our neighborhood fishing programs, we are stocking fish in urban lakes from Amarillo to Waco to Houston so that families can access them with minimal travel and expense. And, in communities around the state, we are hosting fishing derbies and angler education events, all designed to introduce the leaders and stewards of tomorrow to the joys of a day on the water. Remember, life's better outside, particularly with a fishing pole in your hands!

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