ATHENS – Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center (TFFC) is hosting “The Sunfish Showdown” tournament Sept. 24 in conjunction with National Hunting and Fishing Day. The event, scheduled for 8 a.m.-1 p.m., offers a day of fun for the whole family.
“The sunfish showdown is our way of celebrating our states’ rich hunting and fishing heritage through teaching opportunities and fun bluegill fishing, which are many folks first fish,” said TFFC event coordinator Katie Birk. “This event is supported by several of our Texas Parks and Wildlife Department team members showcasing their hard work to protect our natural resources in different ways from fisheries biologists and fish hatcheries to law enforcement so that we may continue to pass down these Texas traditions.”
The Sunfish Showdown tournament is a mentor-based fishing tournament where a child is teamed up with an adult to participate in the event. Teams will consist of one child and one adult, but an adult may be on multiple teams. Registration for age brackets start at 8 a.m. on the day of the event and includes, Fry (ages 0-6), Fingerling (ages 7-12), and Lunker (ages 13-17).
Prizes for the biggest fish, most fish caught, smallest fish, and biggest and smallest non-target fish will be awarded following the tournament. In addition, attendees will have an opportunity to win some hourly door prizes and an awards ceremony is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Attendees don’t need a fishing license and may either bring their own fishing tackle or borrow TTFC’s. Hooks must be single and barbless, and bait must not come from freshwater (no minnows, cut bait, goldfish, etc.). The Texas Game Warden Operation Game Thief trailer, Fisheries Management Biologist electro-fishing boat, games, food and much more also await attendees at the event.
“The Sunfish Showdown is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our fishing and hunting traditions while openly welcoming all Texans to come enjoy, experience, and learn about fishing, aquatic outdoor recreation, and our state’s diverse aquatic resources available and on display throughout the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center,” said Tom Lang, Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Director. “There’s nothing we love more at TFFC than connecting new people from all walks of life to the diversity of Texas’ fisheries resources and recreational opportunities.”
TFFC is located in Athens and includes a working fish hatchery, 300,000 gallons of aquariums focusing on underwater wildlife in the state, recreational fishing ponds and fisheries science exhibits. It is home to the Toyota ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate 13-pound-plus-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. TFFC also houses the Texas Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, which honors individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to freshwater fishing in Texas.
The Texas Game Warden Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of the organization and current TPWD game warden operations, is also located at the TFFC. In addition, TFFC also facilitates the annual Fish Art Contest in Texas, which is part of a conservation education program designed to spark the imaginations of students while providing valuable lessons about fish and the importance of conserving Texas’ aquatic resources.
Current operating hours at the TFFC are 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.