Short notice, short trip – great catfishing

Warren Kreutziger carries a channel cat to the cooler, one of many caught Friday morning.

Warren Kreutziger carries a channel cat to the cooler, one of many caught Friday morning.

I’ve spend as much as a year looking forward to a fishing trip. Planning them several months ahead of time is pretty common, especially for those out-of-state or out-of-country.

But I’ve noticed a lot of planning and anticipation does nothing to get the fish to bite. Nada.

Some very enjoyable trips, though, have had almost no planning.  A few hours early Friday morning at Marion Reservoir was a prime example.

Deadlines have been hitting me as hard and as fast as a BAR this summer. I’ve probably fished less this year than any of my life.

Warren Kreutziger, left, nets a channel cat caught by Marc Murrell. The fish was one of about a 15 Murrell caught Friday morning.

Warren Kreutziger, left, nets a channel cat caught by Marc Murrell. The fish was one of about a 15 Murrell caught Friday morning.

But heading home from work Thursday evening I realized I needed some catfish fillets to photograph for something I’m writing about cooking. Knowing I could spare a few hours Friday morning I called Warren Kreutziger, a friend who does a little guiding and a whole lot of fishing at Marion Reservoir. Warren invited me up, saying he had to go pour some soured soybeans in some of his chum spots in the morning, anyway. I told him I couldn’t fish long and he was fine with that.

Up at Marion, at Warren’s house about a mile from the lake, I met him and mutual friend Marc Murrell. Marc knows Marion as well as Warren, and he and his family were camping at the lake for a few days.

I told both of my hosts, what I needed was a fish or two for photos.

Marc had the first one in the boat within about five minutes of anchoring near one of  Warren’s chum holes. A few minutes later he caught an even bigger channel cat.

We were fishing about seven or eight feet of water, over some brush where Warren had been dumping raunchy-smelling, water-logged soybeans to attract the fish. Marc and Warren were using special dip baits they’d made themselves. The ingredients were varied, putrid and the cool part was how they used cattail seeds to help bind the gaggish, poo-like material on a treble hook.

Warren occasionally “freshened” the chum hole by dropping a few cups of beans overboard.

Rotten, putrid soybeans are used to attract channel catfish during the summer time.

Rotten, putrid soybeans are used to attract channel catfish during the summer time.

The morning was stunning, especially for early August. There was a bit of breeze but not too much. Long sleeves felt nice when we hit the water at about 7:30 a.m. And the fish were downright friendly.

Marc had the hot hand, catching 9 keepers before we packed up after about three hours of fishing. He also released several that were more than big enough for most folks. The limit is 10 per day, with no size minimum at Marion Reservoir.

As well as numerous, the channel catfish were pretty big. I’d say the average fish was probably around four pounds. We had a couple around six pounds, and one that may have passed seven by a cup of soured beans or so.

Catfish await cleaning in an old cooler.

Catfish await cleaning in an old cooler.

We…meaning Marc and Warren…cleaned 16 or 17 nice catfish. They were kind enough to let me take the fillets. I was back home in Newton before noon.

In a few weeks I’ll head to Montana for some fishing that’s been in the plans for more than a year. Even if it pans out, it probably won’t be any more fun than the unexpected success that came Friday morning.

So it often goes with fishing.