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Little Lake, Big Fish
Best little lake in Texas may surprise you
ATHENS—To catch big fish you need to fish in big water, right?
Not if you fish in the ponds at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) in Athens.
Lake Zebco is only 1.5 acres, but it produces far bigger fish than you’d expect from a pond its size. The most recent example came October 1, when eight-year-old Taylor Musso of Dallas, daughter of Mark and Shondo Musso, reeled in a record longear sunfish. The fish was only 0.72 pounds, but it earned Taylor multiple bragging rights: a junior angler state record, state catch and release record, water body record, water body catch and release record and Big Fish award.
The previous record longear sunfish, 0.68 pounds, also came from Lake Zebco.
In June 2009, Kaylee Nicholson of Athens landed the junior angler catch and release state record for bluegills with a fish from Lake Zebco that measured 10.5 inches.
Water body records for other species of fish caught from Lake Zebco are impressive. The record for largemouth bass caught on rod and reel is 8.98 pounds in the weight division. Kaylee Nicholson’s bluegill holds the rod and reel weight record at 1.14 pounds. The record blue catfish from Lake Zebco weighed 37.9 pounds; the record channel catfish 13.73 pounds. (Those fish, both caught in 2009 by Matt Lundstrom, were released back into Lake Zebco and are presumably still there, only bigger.)
Fly-fishers do well at TFFC, too. Daniel Montayne holds the Lake Zebco record for channel catfish at 7.01 pounds. (Yes, you can catch catfish on a fly rod.)
TFFC has a designated fly-fishing pond in addition to Lake Zebco, and the record largemouth bass caught on fly rod by weight was 8.01 pounds; by length 23.25 inches.
If you’d like to put your name in the record book, TFFC is a good place to start, either by beating an existing record or setting a record in a category currently without one. Check out the current records at http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/.
TFFC is located 75 miles southeast of Dallas, in Athens. For information and directions, call (903) 676-2277 or visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc/. TFFC is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5.50 adults, $4.50 seniors and $3.50 children ages 4 through 12.
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