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HOOKED ON EAST TEXAS: April Fishing Fools Day

No fooling at an event designed to showcase all things fishing in Texas.

TYLER, Texas — We all know fish are smart because they swim in schools, right? In this week’s Hooked on East Texas, we take you to an event aimed at helping you outsmart fish.

For instance, Dallas area boy scout Aiden Butcher knew an 18-inch, two-pound rainbow trout couldn't resist the sweet aroma of corn.  

“I put two pieces of corn on there," Butcher said. "And the second the bobber hit the water it went straight under. I set the hook and I got it.” 

Butcher caught the big fish at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center’s annual April Fishing Fool's Days. He's familiar with TFFC as his troop visits once a year.

"We came out here last year and did it. We tour the hatchery and we come out here and fish, hopefully catch a fish like this and cook it and eat it," Butcher said.

TFFC director Tom Lang told us April Fishing Fool's Day is a highlight of the year. 

“We love Fishing Fool's Day because it’s a great opportunity for a one stop shop for folks to come out to see many different things that they can do with fishing.”

There were lots of things to do and see. Some of what we saw with our own eyes, we now can't unseen. For instance, Lake Texoma biologist Dan Bennett showed us the large head of an alligator gar. The taxidermy creature had buggy eyes and scary, ferocious teeth. 

“This large guy was caught in Lake Richland Chambers and we aged it to be about 30-years old," Bennett said.

Old and young are fans of Fishing Fools Day. There was lot to learn from how electro-fishing is used to track fish populations to the rules and regulations of fishing in Texas. There were even lessons for an experienced angler like me. 

For instance, young angler Cash Ware from Corsicana, reeled in his catch then told me why catfish love stinkbait. 

"Because catfish are bottom feeders. They’re gonna go around with their whiskers and then they’re going to find this and then eat it," Ware said confidently. 

Fishing tactics, tricks and tips to get the youngest of the young hooked on fishing. There are science lessons here even when you don’t realize your learning. And

Matt Tolnay is with the Texas High School Bass Association said bass fishing can help pay your way through college. 

“We offer a high school fishing program that done through their schools, but we are the platform that they compete at, and we give away over 500,000 thousand in scholarship and prizes every year to the competing anglers," Tolnay said.

April Fishing Fools Day also highlights the many different kinds of fishing in Texas. It's just not bass, crappie and catfish. There's coastal fishing just a few hours from East Texas. 

“We’re really blessed in Texas to have so many diverse fishery resources. And this is a great opportunity to help connect people to the different ways they can enjoy those resources and be more connected to those resources and ultimately protect those resources as well," Lang said. 

April Fishing Fools Day will be postponed next year because the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center will be closed while undergoing a year-long, four-million dollar renovation and expansion. This work is set to start this summer.

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