The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an $18 million facility located in Athens dedicated to the conservation and education about fish and fisheries in the State of Texas. Although TFFC is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it was built without State Funds ( that alone is reason enough to love the place). From the TFFC website : "TFFC 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 trophy-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. Annual visitation is more than 60,000. A third of our visitors attend with school and youth groups".
See that photo up there ^^^? That's a 26,000 gallon aquarium in the theatre at TFFC. As you can see, that's a full-grown man in scuba gear in there feeding the fish. He's wired for sound and is able to take questions from visitors about the aquarium in particular or TFFC in general. I have seen this on several occasions and it's a very informative program. This huge fish tank is home to several species of piscatorial species, including (at the time I was there) a large mouth bass estimated to weigh 24+ pounds and a blue catfish at an estimated 44 pounds ! To top that off, this catfish was blind as a bat due to cataracts (true, but pun intended). Also on the property are a snack bar, gift shop and a pond that is stocked with rainbow trout during the winter and year-round with catfish. Rod and reels and bait are provided free of charge. The on-site museum is an awesome part of the facility with interactive displays and fishin' gear from days gone by. For more info, you can contact TFFC here.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is a must see not only for fishermen, but for the education they provide about fish habitat, etc, and how to conserve and protect these beautiful assets for all Texans.