ATHENS – The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) is teaming up with the Henderson County Food Pantry this November for the “Ethelsgiving Feed the Hungry, Feed the Fish” food drive. The annual tradition began in 2020 to honor the first ShareLunker “Ethel,” which weighed 17.67-pounds and was caught Nov. 26, 1986. This year’s drive begins on Nov. 1 and runs throughout the month at the Athens facility.
“We wanted to do something for the anniversary of the day Ethel was caught,” said Tom Lang, TFFC Director. “Her catch date falls during the Thanksgiving season, so we decided in the spirit of the season of giving and sharing great bass genetics, we would hold a food drive in Ethel’s name to continue the act of serving our community.”
During November, TFFC encourages visitors to bring a non-perishable food item, which will directly benefit the Henderson County Food Pantry. It is the oldest food pantry in Henderson County and runs strictly on volunteer help. For a food donation, TFFC will provide that visitor with a free cup of fish food to feed the fish on display. The drive will also accept other non-perishable items including diapers and paper towels.
“The ‘Ethelsgiving Feed the Hungry, Feed the Fish’ campaign is also a reminder of how important recreational fishing and hunting can be for families struggling with food insecurity,” Lang said. “We’re proud to be able to help Texans by providing inexpensive family friendly recreational opportunities, teaching fishing skills, and helping acquire donations for the food pantry.”
Located in Athens, TFFC includes a working fish hatchery, 300,000 gallons of aquaria focusing on underwater wildlife in the state, recreational fishing ponds and fisheries science exhibits. It is home to the Toyota ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate 13-pound-plus-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. TFFC also houses the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to freshwater fishing in Texas.
The Texas Game Warden Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the organization and current TPWD game warden operations, is also located at the TFFC. In addition, TFFC facilitates the annual Fish Art Contest in Texas, which is part of a conservation education program designed to spark the imaginations of students while providing valuable lessons about fish and the importance of conserving Texas’ aquatic resources.
The center operates from 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.