Today, the 82-acre center serves as an ecological gem for the area and environmental classroom for visitors.
On Saturday, seasoned anglers and novice fishermen across East Texas will have an opportunity for family bonding — and landing the big ones.
The Tyler Nature Center has stocked its 1.5-acre pond with 2,000 Missouri-bred rainbow trout for a free opportunity for youth to join their more experienced mentors in angling for fish.
Scheduled on the first and second Saturdays of each new year, this event is focused on young people. The event is free, and neither fishing licenses nor registration are required, East Texas Inland Fisheries Regional Director Craig Bonds said.
The center encourages participants to bring their own gear, though a limited supply of rods, reels, tackle, bait and all other necessary equipment can be supplied on a first-come, first-served basis. Experience is not required, as staff will be present to instruct and assist novices. Anglers may keep five trout and one catfish per day. Additional fish and other species must be thrown back to ensure a sufficient supply for other participants.
Bond said participants who choose to bring their own supplies should bring a strong rod, light tackle and line (he recommends 1-pound test). The best baits are kernel corn, marshmallows and especially “trout paste,” a bright, dough-like concoction designed to appeal to trout in particular.
With 100 to 200 visitors expected, Bonds said, “We’ve been holding this about six, seven, eight years. This is a safe and fun chance to enjoy the outdoors. Fishing is a gateway activity. This is our primary public outreach event, and we’d like to see a lot of folks come.”
The center is at 11810 Farm-to-Market Road 848 in Tyler. It is open year-round for day use from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For further information, contact Tyler Nature Center’s front office at 903-566-1615.
The center is on land the state purchased in the 1950s, according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. It was targeted to be developed into a quail farm.
The center’s 75-acre forested area is composed primarily of fourth-generation trees.
The area has three types of forest communities: dry upland, mesic (moist) upland and mesic creek bottom.
There are two nature trails: a short one, at 0.2 miles, and a longer one, at almost a mile, along the spring-fed Quail Creek, which flows into Gilley Creek.