TPWD News Release — May 7, 2009
ATHENS, Texas — Paul Hinton of Hemphill has been selected as the 2009 inductee into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Hinton was honored for his contributions as a communicator and educator due to 20 years of service as the Texas founder and director of East Texas Get Hooked on Fishing, Not Drugs.
Following retirement from the insurance industry, Hinton began a new career as an outdoor writer and educator, concentrating his efforts on introducing kids to fishing as an alternative to drugs. "He was driven to make children aware of the beauty and value of fishing as a good choice to make in life rather than a bad choice like drugs," wrote nominator Kathy Magers, who was herself inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.
Hinton’s nomination was supported by a host of well-wishers, including Sharon Rushton, founding executive director of the Future Fisherman Foundation; pro angler and television host Jimmy Houston; two-time women’s world champion angler Judy Wong; and pro angler Jay Yelas.
Hinton introduced thousands of children to fishing while partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to also teach boating and water safety and fish identification. He involved fishing industry manufacturers, state and local officials and sports figures. His home became a warehouse for supplies, and his life revolved around putting on events to get kids involved in fishing-all without pay and often with the expenditure of his own retirement income.
Hinton received many honors from governors and presidents for his efforts, but the ones he valued most came from children. One wrote, "Thanks for keeping a lot of people drug free in the U.S. . . . I’ve always wondered why you do this when you could be at home?"
For Hinton, the answer to that question was simple: When helping keep kids off drugs, he was at home.
Hinton will be honored at a banquet at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens on June 6. A video documenting his work will become a permanent exhibit in the Hall of Fame area.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is at 5550 F.M. 2495, four miles east of Athens. For more information call (903) 676-2277 or visit tpwd.texas.gov/tffc.