from employee reports
ATHENS – The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens will be closed to the public beginning August 28 for major renovations and updates.
Approximately 300,000 gallons of aquariums will be upgraded, new larger aquariums will be added, the diving stage and other existing indoor exhibits will be updated, and new exhibits will be developed. Improvements to recreational fishing ponds such as Zybko Lake were also included in the renovation project.
The closure will also enable employees to develop new educational programs and volunteer opportunities. The tentative date for completion and reopening to the public is spring 2025.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation (TPWF) has raised more than $4.5 million in private donations to fund the mega project. Looking ahead to the next 25 years, these improvements will ensure that the next generation can recognize, appreciate, and enjoy the amazing freshwater fishery resources that Texas has to offer.
“TFFC is a special place that represents Texas’ amazing fish resources and the fisheries professionals who serve and manage them,” said Tom Lang, Director of TFFC. “We are grateful for the opportunity that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and its many wonderful donors have given us, to take TFFC to new heights for millions of other visitors to enjoy.”
TFFC has been delighting visitors for over 25 years. The facility has welcomed more than 1.1 million visitors to enjoy schools of fish in indoor and outdoor aquariums, study exhibits and learn how they support and connect Texas’ diverse inland waterways with all living things. Well-stocked fishing ponds provide visitors of all ages with an opportunity to wet the line, and thousands of new anglers have caught their first fish here.
TFFC was the first major public-private partnership between the TPWF and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The 106-acre site was launched in 1996 through the generosity of the many organizations and individuals who supported the historic project.
Located in Athens, TFFC features a fish hatchery, 300,000 gallon aquarium focused on Texas fish and wildlife resources, recreational fishing ponds, and fisheries science exhibits. It is home to the Toyota ShareLunker Program, which invites anglers to donate largemouth bass weighing 13 pounds or more 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 Texas freshwater fishing.
TFFC is also home to the statewide Fisherman Recognition Program, which recognizes standard catches in fresh and saltwater. In addition, TFFC facilitates the annual Texas Fish Art Contest, which is part of an educational conservation program designed to spark students’ imaginations while providing valuable lessons about fish and the importance of preserving Texas’ aquatic resources.
Until August 28, TFFC operates from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Hatchery production, the Toyota ShareLunker Program, the Fisherman Recognition Program, the Fish Arts Competition, and the Texas Freshwater Fishery Hall of Fame will all continue normal operations during the renovation. Educational courses and other small events will also continue at TFFC’s Hart Morris Conservation Center.
For additional information about TFFC, visit the TFFC website and Facebook page.