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Athens Is Spring Break Central
ATHENS — Are you planning an outdoor family adventure during spring break? Athens and the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) are the place to start.
Athens is a great place to spend the night while enjoying area fisheries and attractions. Local hotels and restaurants welcome spring breakers. Holiday Inn Express and Suites-Athens offers a reduced rate during March; mention "visiting Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center" when making a reservation at (903) 675-2500.
For other special discounts and offers, visit the Athens Chamber of Commerce web site at http://www.athenscc.org and click on the "Hot Deals" button at the bottom of the page.
Athens has an active local music and performing arts scene as well as offering outdoor recreation such as scuba diving, golf and zip-lining. You won’t lack for things to do, and you won’t have to deal with traffic jams and hordes of people to enjoy them. Get all the details at http://www.athenstx.org/.
Athens sits in the center of the best fishing in Texas, and TFFC has the best of the best-at least when it comes to beginning anglers and families.
TFFC is an especially good place to fish for rainbow trout, catfish and sunfish. No fishing license is required; all bait and tackle are furnished; and staff is on hand to give assistance when requested. It’s an ideal place to take youngsters on their first fishing outing, since success is almost a sure thing. Fishing is free with paid admission.
On March 13 you can learn all about fly-fishing at Fly Fish Texas, an annual event at TFFC that takes beginners from how to tie a fly to catching a fish with it. Watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/user/TexasParksWildlife#p/c/EEFA84B51D1C2C8B/7/eymbFadDPlE to learn more. The event is free with paid admission to TFFC.
After Fly Fish Texas, rainbow trout can be harvested for free, with a daily bag limit of five trout per person.
TFFC has other attractions if interest in fishing lags. It has 300,000 gallons of aquaria displaying most species of Texas fish; daily dive shows during which a diver hand-feeds the fish in a huge auditorium aquarium; a visitor center with a fishing museum, Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and hatchery displays; a tram tour of the hatchery production ponds; and a walkable wetlands trail featuring plants and wildlife. Picnic areas are available on-site, and Athens restaurants are nearby.
And don’t forget TFFC’s gift shop, where you’ll find a wealth of outdoor- and fishing-related items, clothing, books, gifts and snacks. Everything you need to know for a visit to TFFC is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.
Purtis Creek State Park, just north of Athens off U.S. 175, has a 355-acre lake managed for trophy bass fishing-the lake record is nearly 14 pounds. Tyler State Park has a 64-acre lake stocked with rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Cooper Lake State Park offers the hottest white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing in East Texas. Fairfield Lake State Park is home to one of the best red drum fisheries in the state. Red drum are a saltwater species that can survive in freshwater lakes warmed by power plants, and they grow huge there. Learn more at http://tpwd.texas.gov/spdest/.
Only a parking lot separates TFFC from Lake Athens, which has a boat ramp, bait shop and restaurant. It also has a healthy population of largemouth bass, catfish, sunfish and crappie.
Whether fishing from the bank, using your own boat or fishing with a guide, lakes within an hour’s drive of Athens furnish a sampler of just about every kind of fishing available in Texas. If you like to fish for channel and blue catfish, white bass or hybrid striped bass, check out Cedar Creek Lake, which is along U.S. 175 a dozen or so miles north of Athens. Richland-Chambers Reservoir is best known for its white bass and hybrid striped bass fishing, though it has produced bass weighing more than 13 pounds. Lake Fork is a world-reknowned mecca for big-bass anglers, but this time of year the crappie fishing is great, and the catfishing, though largely ignored, is good year-around. Information on Texas lakes and recreational opportunities on them is at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/recreational/lakes/.
And the best thing about spring break in Athens, Texas? You don’t have to learn to speak Greek to go there: It’s just 75 miles southeast of Dallas. Texan spoken here.
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