Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center
5550 FM 2495, Athens
Why did I think a fish hatchery only hatched fish?
I came away from a visit to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center near the East Texas town of Athens convinced it’s one of the state’s best little known family getaways. There’s a daily dive show in its nearly 30,000 gallon indoor aquarium stocked with Texas fish such as the alligator gar in the picture accompanying this post. Plus smaller indoor aquariums, a pond aquarium landscaped with native plants, a casting pond with supplies and equipment, and more. All included in the admission price of $5.50 for adults, $3.50 for children age 12 and under.
And lest I forget, you can take tours of the center’s main job -- the hatcheries. The center breeds its own bass and channel catfish to supply public lakes, and raises supplies of trout from out of state breeders for limited distribution during cooler months.
A current project is a genetics program aimed at increasing the size of the bass anglers love. The largest fish mom currently in the hatchery weighed nearly fourteen pounds when caught.
This Saturday, April 13, the center also hosts Eggfest Athens 2013, where devotees of the ceramic cooker-smokers called Big Green Eggs will offer, for an additional fee, tastings of everything from casseroles to pork ribs to pig candy. Pig candy? For more about Eggfest, details about the porcine delicacy, and a discount on the tasting fee, see http://athenseggfest.wordpress.com/.
Athens is surrounded by lakes and reservoirs. It's about eighty miles southeast of Dallas, and within twenty-five miles of Canton and Edom.
The fisheries center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., closed on Mondays. For directions and events schedule, see www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/tffc/.
This weekend’s other great fish program -- Go Fish! At Lake Tawakoni State Park, Saturday, April 13, 9 a.m. to noon. Learn the basics of fishing, with bait and equipment provided (or bring your own). No license needed. For pre-registration (recommended), contact Jerry Brian, 903-560-7123. See www.tpwd.state.tx.us/calendar/go-fish-2/.