CONROE, Texas — Every angler hopes of hauling in a double-digit trophy during a tournament, but most go their entire lives without accomplishing this feat.
Tyler Goetzman can check that goal off his list. The 15-year-old angler from Willis, Texas, plunked a 13.06-pounder onto the scales during a tournament at Lake Conroe Jan. 13.
Goetzman was fishing with his father, Mark.
"We had been on the fish pretty good for the past month or so, and we caught about 40 fish that day," Tyler said.
The father/son team was targeting a creek channel, ripping Rat-L-Traps through submerged vegetation along the channel ledge when the big bass hit.
"My bait got stuck down in the grass. When I ripped it out, that's when she hit," he recounted.
"It was right on the edge of the creek channel."
At first the young angler didn't know the fish was trophy caliber. The pair had been boating solid fish, so he assumed it would be in the 3- to 5-pound range.
"It felt like it had me down in the grass," he said.
And then he caught his first glimpse of the fish. Having caught a 9 1/2-pounder before, Goetzman knew he had a real chunk.
"My dad netted it, but we didn't realize just how big it was," he said. "We knew it was over 12 pounds. But when they get that big, you can't tell."
With several hours left in the tournament day, the Goetzman team carefully placed the lunker inside the livewell and continued fishing. They already had five bass, so they culled their smallest fish.
When they finally headed to the weigh-in, Goetzman was living the dream of standing in line with a giant in the bag.
"It's a good feeling, for sure," he said.
However, he still wasn't sure what the fish might weigh. When the scales nudged past 13 pounds, Goetzman could hardly contain himself.
"I've always wanted to catch a ShareLunker, and to catch one in a tournament was so exciting."
The 13-pounder anchored a 30.84-pound limit (five fish), and the team easily won the tournament.
"My dad caught one 7-pounder, and we had three more over 3 pounds," he said. "We had some good fish."
Goetzman's bass is the largest ShareLunker caught by an angler younger than 17, and he also holds the junior record for Lake Conroe.
Lake Conroe has now produced 12 ShareLunkers and currently ranks fourth behind Lake Fork, Lake Alan Henry and Sam Rayburn Reservoir in the number of entries from public waters.
The ShareLunker season began Oct. 1 and ends April 30.