ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Hot temperatures this summer have made fishing at the Marion Reservoir a challenge. But while the heat has scared off some species, anglers continue to catch channel cat.
Local fishing guide Warren Kreutziger of Marion, and several local fishermen, have been impressed with the number of cats reeled in this summer.
“For catfish, it couldn’t be better,” Kreutziger said. “You’ll never find a better time of the year to fish for them.”
Marvin Peterson, Kansas Wildlife & Parks conservation officer, said the bait fish that most predatory species prey on has been phenomenal for this time of year. He credits these fish for the increase in catfish caught at the reservoir.
“Gizzard shad are everywhere out there right now,” Peterson said. “Fisherman are seeing as many as they have ever seen. In the evening, if you go up the river, they’re just hitting the surface. There are just huge schools around everywhere.”
Typically, gizzard shad have a tendency to die off in the winter, Peterson said.
The blustery weather this area endured this past winter didn’t affect the shad species like it normally does.
“I’m kind of glad to see a big shad boom because that means plenty of eating for the sport fish,” Peterson said. “The channel cat fishing is as good as its been for a long time. There’s people out there catching channel cat everyday.”
The survival of this year’s shad has fisherman like Kreutziger excited about the growth of the reservoir cats.
“The catfish have been real good,” Kreutziger said. “They were off a little bit with the weather change and all, but the channel cat have been excellent. The other day we caught three or four of them close to 10 pounds.”
Another fisherman familiar with the Marion Reservoir is Brian McMillen of Hillsboro.
McMillen, who has fished the reservoir consistently in the past years, said fishing for catfish out at the 6,160-acre lake is always encouraging.
“This time of year it’s tougher to catch fish,” McMillen said. “Marion always has had good luck with catfish. It’s been a good year.”
Several methods have been used successfully to catch the cats.
Kreutziger said he uses one method called “chumming,” which in recent years has been criticized by some anglers. Chumming involves dumping bait into the water to attract fish to one area.
Kreutziger sets out several gallons of soybeans for three or four days and allows them to sour. Catfish are attracted to the smell and will congregate to the area of the bait, according to Kreutziger.
“We just wait for them and we do pretty good,” Kreutziger said. “We use a combination of ‘Sunny’s Catfish Bait’ and ‘Big Cat Catfish Bait.’ We’ve seen some good ones.”
Local catfish have also benefited from the misfortune of at least one other species. About a year ago, the reservoir lost about a third of its white bass population to low oxygen levels caused by heat and overpopulation.
Peterson said the white bass kill, while unfortunate, has encouraged the growth of channel-cat and other species.
“That fish kill was a devastating thing, but only to one species,” Peterson said. “The open space created by the white bass kill encouraged other species to grow. I just don’t see any problem I think the white bass will be right back.
“It hasn’t deterred the walleye and cat fishermen. They’re real happy.”