One of the best parts of living in Gateway Parks (https://www.gatewayforney.com/location/) is its location. Since it is on the eastern side of the DFW Metroplex, world-class dining, sports, entertainment and shopping are only a few minutes away. Many current residents have found that this spot on the Texas map is also perfect for day trips to other fascinating places. One of those destinations, which is less than an hour from Gateway Parks, is Athens, Texas.
Athens is one of those quintessential East Texas communities. It has a downtown area that exudes charm and hospitality, with dozens of antique shops around the “square.” It is also home to the annual “Black Eyed Pea Festival” which celebrates that particularly southern delicacy. Plus, the city is home to one of the most interesting environmental/research facilities in the country – The Texas Freshwater Fishery Center.
The Big Ones That Didn’t Get Away
For the men and women of all ages who love the sport of fishing (AKA “anglers”), a visit to the Texas Freshwater Fishery Center should be on the top of a bucket-list. It is nothing short of amazing!
Fishing is the most popular outdoor sport in Texas. According to the TFFC website, “The estimated 1.8 million anglers who fish Texas lakes and rivers each year have an annual economic impact of $1.49 billion. Texans spend more money on fishing than on any other outdoor activity. Fish stockings along with harvest regulations have been the primary techniques used by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologists to improve or maintain fishing quality.
“Hatcheries play a vital role in maintaining the quality of fishing in Texas. Fishing pressure on Texas fresh waters is tremendous. Stocking of hatchery-reared fingerlings helps keep the quality of fishing high. TPWD annually produces more than 7.5 million bass, 1.2 million catfish, 5.8 million striped bass and hybrid striped bass and 1 million other species of fish for stocking into Texas reservoirs.
“The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center houses one of five state fish hatcheries. Largemouth bass production is the primary focus of the hatchery, although other fish are also grown here. The hatchery produces 3 to 4 million Florida largemouth bass fingerlings annually.”
Fish Sustainability in Action
The aquatic experts of TPWD have designed an ingenious way to encourage the sustainability of freshwater fish in Texas. The TFFC hatchery consists of two main parts, indoor and outdoor. Indoor facilities include raceways for spawning, holding and treating fish, isolation and treatment tanks and fish health and genetics laboratories. Fish are grown to the desired size in 45 lined outdoor ponds ranging from one-quarter to two acres totaling 37 surface acres. A major function of the outdoor hatchery is the production of food for bass. In excess of 70 million koi carp (goldfish) are produced annually for this purpose. Catfish are fed high-protein pellets.
There is also a fish hospital! The TFFC notes that the “Lunker Bunker” is a special part of the indoor hatchery. Visible through a bay window at the end of the hatchery gallery in the Visitor Center are 22 circular tanks. These tanks are used to hold largemouth bass entered into the ShareLunker Program. These tanks can also be used as quarantine or treatment areas for new or sick fish. The Lunker Bunker is officially known as the “Intensive Care Unit” because of the work that goes on there.
Concerns about the COVID virus, has resulted in a reduction of the times when visitors can tour the facility. It is suggested that potential visitors should click on the TFFC website for days and times to visit the facility. The address is also posted here.
Travel East or West for Family Fun
Going or coming from any direction, Gateway Parks in Forney is the perfect spot to call “home base.” It is a cozy, quiet enclave, away from the big city hustle and bustle but close enough to be minutes away from an unlimited number of fun things to do, including the gracious living and activities of East Texas
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