ATHENS – The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is teaming up with the Henderson County Food Pantry this November to help feed the hungry. In honor of the first Sharelunker, “Ethel” who was caught on November 26, 1986, the “Ethelsgiving Feed the Hungry, Feed the Fish” food drive will begin November 1 and run throughout the month at the Athens facility.
“We wanted to do something for the anniversary of the day Ethel was caught,” said Tom Lang, TPWD Inland Fisheries Division Outreach Director. “Her catch date was November 26 which falls on Thanksgiving this year, 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 the month of November, TFFC visitors are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item, which will directly benefit the Henderson County Food Pantry. For a food donation, TFFC will provide that visitor with a free cup of fish food to feed the fish on display.
“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. “This has been an especially challenging year for so many. 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.”
The TFFC is located in Athens and is a state-of-the-art Texas Parks and Wildlife facility. It houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes. It serves as home base for the ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate thirteen-pound-plus-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes.
During the ongoing public heath situation, the TFFC is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday with the following safety procedures in place:
- Guests are encouraged to wear masks, maintain appropriate social distances from others outside their party, and use hand sanitizer and wash their hands regularly.
- No groups larger than five people are allowed, except for families or people living in the same household.
- To avoid crowding, there will not be any tram or hatchery tours offered.
- The indoor portion of the visitor center, including the dive theater, gift shop, and Game Warden museum will remain closed.
- Water fountains and vending machines will not be operational, but visitors are permitted to bring drinks and bottled water will be available for purchase.
TFFC is operating at approximately 25% visitor capacity per the state’s executive order. This will allow up to 100 people at the facility at any time. To be informed on when TFFC is nearing visitor capacity and entrance will require waiting, please follow the TFFC Facebook page and front entrance signage. Admission is temporarily reduced to the group rate of $2.50 per guest. During this partial reopening phase, visitors to TFFC can still enjoy all outside aquaria, recreational fishing, the Angler’s Pavilion, antique lure and fishing equipment exhibit, and wetland trail.
For additional information about the TFFC and to plan your visit, check out the TFFC website.