Facts about TFFC

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an $18 million facility built without the use of state funds even though it belongs to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, an agency of the state of Texas. Many public and private entities worked with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation to raise this money.

Much of the money came from the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration Fund, a federal program funded by a tax on purchases made by hunters and anglers. The City of Athens provided a financial package worth $4,063,000, the largest single gift ever made to a conservation project in the state of Texas. Additional support came from the ShareLunker Foundation, Inc., the Athens Municipal Water Authority, the Athens Economic Development Commission and a number of private corporations.

Grants from corporations, conservation organizations and individuals continue to be a vital source of funds for TFFC programs. Contributors include the Dallas Safari Club, Trinity Valley Electric Corporation, Exxon/Mobil Corporation, the Freshwater Anglers Association, the Hillcrest Foundation, the Effie and Wofford Cain Foundation, Texas Black Bass Unlimited and TXU. The Texas Department of Transportation funded much of the work on the wetlands trail. Bass Pro Shops founder John L. Morris provided TFFC with a challenge grant of up to $650,000 for money raised during 2004-2005 for a new education building. Click here for a more complete list of donors.

TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes. It serves as home base for the ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate trophy-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. Annual visitation is more than 60,000. A third of our visitors attend with school and youth groups.

Visitor Services

  • Daily interactive dive show
  • Narrated tram tours of the production hatchery
  • Opportunity to fish for rainbow trout or channel catfish (instruction, bait, and fishing rods provided)
  • Self-guided wetlands trail
  • Educational programs for groups
  • Gift shop with snacks
  • Picnic areas, covered and open
  • Meeting facilities (theater area with audiovisual setup, enclosed and open-air pavilions, tents available)


  • Named for Athens resident Edwin L. Cox, Jr., former chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission
  • Opened in November 1996
  • State-of-the-art hatchery production facility with 45 ponds covering 37 acres, completed in spring 1999
  • Built as a joint venture with the Parks and Wildlife Foundation of Texas, ShareLunker Foundation, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the City of Athens, Athens Economic Development Corporation, Athens Municipal Water Authority, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and many private contributors.

Facility Facts

  • 106 acres
  • 23,000 square foot Visitor Center
  • 300,000 gallons of aquaria
  • 24,000 square feet of indoor hatchery and laboratories
  • 1.2-acre public fishing pond
  • 0.8-mile wetland trail
  • 26,000-gallon dive tank aquarium
  • 56 species of fish, reptiles, and mammals on display in natural habitats [Reservoir exhibit]
  • 162 species of plants, shrubs, and trees
  • 10,000 square feet of wildflower displays (seasonal)
  • 45,000 square feet of bedded plants


TFFC Director
Tom Lang, (903) 670-2224
ShareLunker Program
Natalie Goldstrohm, (903) 670-2285
Exhibits Curator
Roy Drinnen, (903) 670-2239
(903) 676-2277

See the complete staff listing.

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