*Things to do in East Texas*
Texas Fresh Water Fisheries Center
5550 FM2495, Athens, TX 75752 (If your GPS takes you down 317, pick a different route, this road is temporarily closed)
Admission is $5.50-adults, $4.50-seniors 65 & older, &$3.50-children ages 4 – 12
FitBit Steps: 6,500!!
PSA: Don’t go on this awesome excursion unless you have at least 4 hours to enjoy!
*We recommend going early to escape some of the inevitable Texas heat*
Have you ever had one of those mornings where you’re behind, children aren’t cooperating, traffic is bad, you have 20 minutes to get 30 miles away, gas light comes on 20 miles from your destination, you drive 3 miles down a closed road??? Yea, that was mine and Lili’s morning.. When we realized we weren’t going to make the 11:00 AM “Dive Show” we contemplated just trying again another day, when we struck some good luck…
You see, the hatchery has a Dive Show at 11 AM every day (besides Sunday, it’s at 2) and directly following is a tram tour around the facility and seeing as how the road closure set us back even further, we missed the Dive Show AND the 1st tram ride. HOWEVER, they happen to be taking a second group especially for a school and let us sneak on! Thankfully, everyone you encounter at the facility is super kind and helpful as well so our moods were changed almost immediately.
During the tour, our lovely guide & “Bob the driver” were most accommodating. She educated us on how the facility worked and even stopped to give some of their Koi fish a treat.
**HALF WAY THROUGH THE TOUR, THEY OFFER TO LET YOU OFF AND WALK THE .6 MILE BACK THROUGH THE WETLANDS… IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE WALKING DOWN & BACK (1.2 Miles)… ACCEPT THE OFFER.**
…We did not accept the offer to get off, so our next stop was the outdoor fish tanks. There is fish food to buy at several different locations @ .25/handful.
The girls loved seeing all of the different types of fish & turtles!
Just past the outdoor fish tanks, you find several fishing ponds, waterfalls and roaming geese… which are not very friendly, Seri learned. As she tried to feed them by hand, they hissed at her!
The waterfalls were a huge hit, & my “graceful” adventurer, Abigayle, didn’t even fall in!
We decided to challenge ourselves and walk the Wetlands Trail down and back… Luckily, the trail was full of adventures & definitely built for all ages! Chock full of education, entertainment, beauty & plenty of resting stops. We even found a fun game!
This map kept us petty busy for most of the trail. Each image of an animal has its name and footprint next to it, which we thought was cool! And then…
We spotted the tracks on the trail! There are raccoon, heron, bunny, deer tracks & more. The girls thought this was so fun to spot the tracks & match them to the animal on the map (take a picture so you don’t have to keep walking back). They even found BEAR tracks which led us right to..
A live, working bee hive! There is a little hut, with active, honey producing bees inside. The walls are covered with facts and there is even audio information that plays.
With all the cool things to see and interactive stops, walking through the trail can take a while, but once we made our way the .6 mile to the duct pond (complete with a cool fake duck blind that has a water fountain!!). Not only will you find a picnic area, and lots of animals to feed, but every mother’s dream.. CLEAN BATHROOMS. Nope, we not once had to christen nature today & it was amazing.
The girls cared more about feeding the geese though.. I mean who could blame them?
Once we emerged from our wetland adventure, the fishing poles were calling the girls names. No worries if you didn’t bring any equipment, they have tons of poles and bait available for you, FOR FREE. Beware: The stink bate is extra stinky, haha!
We had a blast teaching the girls the ropes of casting & reeling. There are several little ponds to choose from and although we weren’t lucky enough to catch any, some gentlemen near us had a couple big ones on the line!
And just how stinkin’ cute are they with their little fishing poles.
**Side note: The hatchery would not be a bad place to take pictures, if you’re looking for something new. With all the lilly pads, bridges, wildflowers, and waterfalls you’re sure to find an excellent back drop!**
After complete heat exhaustion, we were thankful to find some reprieve in the indoor museum that was nice a cool, equip with water fountains of ice cold water.
There were lots of cool facts like, the largest large mouth bass caught in Texas was 18.8 Lbs!! Woah. And also more fishies to look at!
We even got to look at the huge fish tank they use for the Dive Show that we missed!
We had an absolutely amazing time here at the Texas Freshwater Fishery Center. Some great East Texas fun in the sun!
- Plenty of water
- Walking shoes
- Comfy / cool clothing
- Quarters (for fish/geese/turtle food)
- Fishing equipment (if you’re particular about yours)
- Butterfly / tadpole net
- Bikes (we need to double check that that is permitted, but would’ve helped our gals on the trail)
- Hat / Sunglasses
We would highly recommend adding the Texas Freshwater Fishery to your summer agenda!
We would also like to thank Mandy Scott for being so welcoming & hospitable to us!
All our love,