Bobby Whiteside, Gulf States Toyota Named 2017 TFF Hall of Fame Inductees

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ATHENS – The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced Bobby Whiteside, a professor, author and avid bass angler; and Gulf States Toyota, a longtime sponsor of Texas Parks and Wildlife Inland Fisheries programs; have been selected as 2017 inductees into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

The Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to freshwater fishing in Texas.

“Bobby Whiteside is the first academic educator to be inducted into the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame,” said Dan Kessler, Chairman of the TFF Hall of Fame Committee. “As a fisheries biologist, educator and avid fisherman, Bobby’s lifelong body of work dedicated to learning, teaching and understanding our freshwater ecosystem is unmatched.”

Whiteside, of San Marcos, taught at Texas State University for 33 years and directed the aquatic biology program for 18 years. In his academic role, Whiteside co-wrote the book “Freshwater Fishes of Texas” in addition to penning 26 peer-reviewed publications and nine reports and book reviews.

But according to his nomination letter, Whiteside’s greatest contribution to freshwater fishing extends past his written work and lies in his students – many of whom work in the fields of fisheries management; water quality; and stream, river and reservoir management at organizations including TPWD, several Texas river authorities and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Whiteside’s lifelong passion for freshwater fishing is also illustrated by his 49-year membership in the Canyon Bass Club. In this organization, Whiteside competed in state and regional bass fishing tournaments and assisted with youth fishing, high school angling tournaments, and volunteer events that brought the sport of fishing to wounded soldiers, nursing home patients and local Boy Scout organizations. He also participated in several projects with the club and other local partners to install fish habitat made of plastic and cedar trees into Canyon Lake and other area fisheries.

“We can’t begin to imagine all of the contributions Bobby has made toward improving freshwater fishing in Texas – today and for generations to come,” Kessler said. “The TFF Hall of Fame selection committee is honored to have this opportunity to recognize Bobby Whiteside.”

Gulf States Toyota, nominated into the industry or organization category, has provided more than $2.5 million in funding to TPWD Inland Fisheries programs over the last 10 years to promote bass fishing and increase the participation of youth and families in freshwater fishing.

That contribution includes the creation and promotion of the Toyota Texas Bass Classic (TTBC), now called the Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest, which is a professional bass fishing tournament that emphasizes best practices in fishing conservation. The TTBC, first held on Lake Fork in 2007, was the first tournament to implement the catch-weigh and immediate-release concept, and it’s since been adopted by Major League Fishing and B.A.S.S. for use in several of their events.

“The annual Toyota Texas Bass Classic was one of the premier fishing events in the United States,” Kessler said. “Not only did this event go a long way in promoting fishing in Texas, proceeds from this event continue to support a long list of initiatives focused on creating new anglers in our state.”

Some of the initiatives funded by proceeds from the event include the Neighborhood Fishin’ program, which stocks catchable-sized fish in 18 community park ponds in 11 urban areas, and the State-Fish Art Contest, which uses art to interest youth in grades K-12 in fishing.

Gulf States Toyota also provides significant funding to support the Toyota ShareLunker Program, which encourages anglers who have caught 13-pound-plus largemouth bass to lend the fish to TPWD for spawning purposes.

According to Inland Hatcheries Chief Todd Engeling, support for the Toyota ShareLunker program has led to advancements in genetic testing and selective breeding in Texas fish hatcheries with the goal to produce larger bass for Texas anglers.

“Gulf States Toyota sponsorship of the Classic combined with their ongoing commitment to the ShareLunker Program demonstrates the tremendous value that public/private partnerships can play toward sustaining the quality of fishing we treasure in Texas,” Kessler said. “Gulf States Toyota is only the second corporation to be recognized by the Hall of Fame with this highly-deserved honor.”

The Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame is housed at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Its mission is to “recognize and honor those who have made a lasting contribution to freshwater fishing in Texas, and to foster a sense of appreciation, awareness and participation in the sport of fishing.”

Both inductees will be formally inducted into the Hall of Fame during a banquet at the TFFC June 3.

For more information, visit the TFF Hall of Fame online.