The Catfish Coffee Club

The Catfish Coffee Club

The Catfish Coffee Club

The pickup's clock flashed 7:30 a.m. The weather report coming over the radio called for sunny skies and a high of around 45°F. Not bad for early November. If it did make the 40s, it'd be the warmest day in a week of freezing temperatures. Downing my last bit of coffee, I rolled into an old corner gas station on the farm country two-lane to check the boat gas.

I pumped a few gallons. No pay-at-the-pump here, so I stepped inside the station. A cowbell jangled against the front door when I pulled it open and again when it closed behind me. Straight ahead was the register. To the left, past the chip rack, was a small diner counter where two men were tucked up on swivel stools. They gave me an appraising look; I nodded, and they swiveled back to their breakfast. I was just a passerby. I suppose they expected to see someone they know when the cowbell clangs.

I handed the cashier a twenty. Waiting for change, I looked at snapshots taped to the counter of fishermen holding their catches. Dates covered at least three decades. Walleyes, pike, crappies, catfish, probably from the river I'd be fishing shortly.


I decided to have a coffee at the counter and let the sun climb higher and warmer. Heck, this late in the season, there's usually no need to go for catfish too early in the morning. Two of the four stools were occupied, and another had a cup of coffee sitting there waiting for someone. I sat on the last stool.


"What'll you have?" asked the attendant.

"Coffee, thanks," I said.

"Need a warm up, Coach?" she tipped the pot to the half-empty mug of the man wearing the crooked Twins hat.

"How 'bout you, Jack?"


Jack wore a DeKalb seed hat. Both men were older, likely retired and regulars at the station each morning.

I overheard them discussing fishing, their conversation quickly turning to baseball as I settled in. The World Series had ended about a week and a half earlier. Quite a contest thatwent seven games.

Coach swiveled in my direction. "Taking your boat down to J&E for storage?"


"Not yet," I replied. "Just gassing up. Still have maybe a couple weeks left of good fishing for channel cats."

"Catfish? It's a bit cold for catfishing."

Coach stabbed Jack in the side with his elbow and said, "You know, it was so cold this morning I saw a dog chasing a cat," he paused, tearing open a packet of Sweet'N Low, "and they were both walking." They laughed. I chuckled. The attendant shook her head.

"Mickey Rivers, Texas Rangers — darn good outfielder," Coach said. "Said that before a game postponed because of cold and rain. You're probably too young to remember him. Don't make 'em like Mickey anymore."

"You guys going fishing today?" I asked.

"I say too cold for baseball, too cold for fishing. Waste of time." Coach replied. "Don't do much catfishing, except in summer. Upstream of town." He pointed over his shoulder.

"Downriver from the launch you hit Johnson's Bend," Jack said. "Never did well in the Johnson's stretch, so don't waste your time there."

"Thanks for the tip," I said, as the cowbell jangled on the door and a man wearing coveralls walked in.

Coach and Jack swiveled toward him. "It's about time, Al," Coach said. "Beginning to think your rustbucket wouldn't start today."

"You boys ready?" Al said.

Coach and Jack stood up. "Been good talkin' with you," Coach said to me. Jack nodded and smiled. "Hope you get lucky and catch a cat but don't count on it this time of year."

I took another sip and looked out the window. The sun was higher now. The counter club boys climbed into an old Wagoneer and pulled away with ariver jonboat in tow. Must be taking it into storage, I thought.

After finishing a warm-up refill I stopped at the register to pay.

"Coffee's on Coach," the attendant said.

I looked down at the photos one last time. In the corner was an old yellowed Polaroid. Four men in warm coats and hats were holding a stringer full of nice catfish. There was writing on it:

Coach, Jack, Al and Joe

November 21, 1972, Johnson's Bend

I supposed the coffee waiting at the empty stool was a tribute to the memory of Joe, a catfishing friend and a coffee-club regular at the station who'd passed along but was still there in spirit.

Motoring downriver, the air was warmer now. The river turned up ahead. Must be Johnson's Bend, I thought. I made my way into the bend. It was then I knew I'd been had. There sat Coach, Jack, and Al, anchored on the outside turn. Coach grinned and hoisted a stringer with a couple cats, a sort of salute to my initiation, I suppose. I smiled, waved, and continued downstream.

Too cold for catfishing? Sure, Coach. It was at that moment I suppose I became an official member of the catfish coffee club.

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

Quick and easy Neko and whacky rigging; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Trailer Bass

Trailer Bass

Doug Stange introduces us to some terrific jig trailer lures for largemouth bass.

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

Daiwa Tatula 300 Baitcaster

The new Tatula reel is perfect when an angler is on the water fishing big baits for big bass!

Daiwa Tatula Swimbait Rods

Daiwa Tatula Swimbait Rods

No matter what your bass catching goal is, Daiwa's Tatula line of rods is perfect for every job according to MLF Bass Pro Tour veteran Cody Meyer. Here's why.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural baits and commercial options. Carp

10 Best Carp Baits Available Today

Dan Johnson

To guide your carp quest, we've lined up the best carp baits that are easy-to-fish natural...

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven riggings. Catfish

All About Catfish

Rob Neumann

Everything you need to know about popular catfish species and how to catch them on proven...

This walleye recipe is a colorful and delicious way to serve your most recent catch. Fish Recipes

Walleye Baked with Sweet Peppers & Onions Recipe

Tom Kavanaugh

This walleye recipe is a colorful and delicious way to serve your most recent catch.

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Trending Articles

More Catfish

For its relatively small size, the Red River of the North has legions of enormous channel catfish. Catfish

Channel Cat Feeding Factors: Timing Peak Bites

Cory Schmidt - January 21, 2020

For its relatively small size, the Red River of the North has legions of enormous channel...

This type of trolling is an outstanding technique for covering water. Catfish

Jet Divers for Catfish

Dan Johnson

This type of trolling is an outstanding technique for covering water.

Spinning reels are simple, durable, and reliable. Catfish

Spinning Reels for Catfish

Dan Anderson - March 31, 2020

Spinning reels are simple, durable, and reliable.

In the flathead catfish world, there's probably nothing more conventional than fishing with big, aggressive livebaits. Catfish

Cutbait Connections to Early-Season Flatheads

Rob Neumann

In the flathead catfish world, there's probably nothing more conventional than fishing with...

See More Catfish

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now