|  TPWD News Releases Dated 2013-05-29                                    |
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[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ]
[ Additional Contacts: James Booker, (903) 670-2266, james.booker@tpwd.texas.gov ]
May 29, 2013
Free Food, Fishing at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center for National Fishing Day
ATHENS, Texas- National Fishing and Boating Week will start this weekend with a big splash at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens with their annual National Fishing Day celebration.
Children 12 and under will receive free admission and free fishing will be available for the whole family from 9:00 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Free hot dogs, chips, and drinks will be served all day by employees of the Athens Wal-Mart Supercenter.
Kids may also compete to win prizes in the catfishing tournament at the TFFC's casting pond.
In addition to fishing, visitors can walk the wetlands trail; see a diver hand feed fish; learn about the history of fishing in the freshwater fishing museum; shop for a Father's Day gift in the Flat Creek Bait 'n Goods Gift Shop and watch the alligator feeding at 3:30 p.m.
National Fishing and Boating Week, June 1- June 9, 2013, is designed to encourage families to spend time together on and around water. No fishing license is required anywhere in the state on the first Saturday in June, which is designated Free Sportfishing Day.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an aquatic nature center and hatchery complex operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It is located 75 miles southeast of Dallas and four miles east of Athens on F.M. 2495. Dive shows take place at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 2 p.m. Sundays. Hours are 9 to 4 Tuesday through Saturday and 1 to 4 Sunday. Usual admission is adults, $5.50; seniors, $4.50; children 4-12, $3.50.
For more information go to http://tpwd.texas.gov/tffc or call (903) 676-2277.

[ Note: This item is more than four years old. Please take the publication date into consideration for any date references. ]
[ Media Contact: TPWD News, news@tpwd.texas.gov, 512-389-8030 ] [LH]
May 29, 2013
Angler Sets New Fly Rod State Record for Channel Catfish
ATHENS--When Bryan Smith of Athens isn't helping visitors to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) catch fish, he does some fishing on his own.
On Friday, May 24, the TFFC volunteer took advantage of some free time to do a little fly-fishing.
"Fly-fishing is my passion, and nothing could have been greater than what happened that day," Smith said. What happened was a new state record for heaviest channel catfish caught on a fly rod. The fish weighed 20.8 pounds and was 35.5 inches long.
After being photographed, the fish was released back into the TFFC casting pond, qualifying it for both state and TFFC catch-and-release records. The fish is also the new TFFC casting pond water body record. Plus it was Smith's fourth Big Fish Award of the five needed to earn him Elite Angler status.
"I was very excited to have caught this fish. I'm an avid fly-fisherman and am trying to achieve my Elite Angler Award using only my fly rods," Smith said. "This fish marked a stepping stone in reaching my goal. I hope this experience can show other anglers that fly-fishing can be used to take fish that most people wouldn't believe you could ever catch on a fly rod."
Smith was using an 8-weight G. Loomis Experience rod with an Okuma SLV 7/8 reel spooled with Scientific Angler GPX 8-weight, weight-forward Mastery Series line with a furled leader and 10-pound-test tippet. He was using a fly he tied himself, a size 8 gold bead head white/purple Wooly Bugger.
"While learning to fly-fish I have developed a special way to detect and catch catfish on a fly-rod which is very unusual," Smith said. "I use a method known to some fly-fishers as a dead drift. It involves a strike indicator or a shorter leader/tippet using the fly line as the indicator, which I was doing the day I caught the record fish. The way I catch my catfish on the fly is, I allow the fly to sink to the strike zone. Catfish feed a lot on falling prey, particularly minnows and shad from schooling fish such as white bass and largemouth bass. Sometimes these schooling fish will eat so much they will begin to regurgitate their prey, and it falls. As it falls catfish and other fish will pick it up, and that is what I re-create."
Smith caught his record fish shortly after 9:00 a.m. on his first or second cast. "I saw the fly line jump and immediately set the hook with a fast strip," he recalled. "The fly probably hadn't sunk 12 inches when the catfish picked it up. Once I set the hook the catfish swirled and began digging down. I adjusted my drag knowing I had just hooked into a great catfish! He immediately began running and was attempting to go into deeper water. I tightened my drag more to create the most resistance I could." Smith battled the fish for about 20 minutes before it tired and allowed him to land it.
"I would have never believed when I first started fly-fishing that I would land the state record channel catfish," Smith said. "Honestly, I would have never believed I would have caught a channel catfish on a fly rod at all. I hope all this will help others become interested in learning to fly-fish and catch record-size fish."
For more information on Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's fish records and awards, visit http://tpwd.texas.gov/fishboat/fish/programs/fishrecords/.
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