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Local Fishermen Remember Catfish Legend (Video)

"Channel Matt" Schoell of Wethersfield leaves a lasting legacy on the water.

Matthew Schoell, 46, known to many Connecticut fishermen simply as “Channel Matt”, passed away unexpectedly in his home on Tuesday, May 31.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Matt lived in Wethersfield and found his way into the lives of many through the popular fishing website ctfisherman.com.

Matt loved to fish for a variety of species, especially carp.  He grew a liking for catfish only after accidentally hooking them while carp fishing.  He quickly learned all about their habitat and predatory characteristics. Eventually, Matt became known as “Channel Matt,” the go-to guy for catfish across the state. When Matt wasn't posting updates accompanied by pictures of the monster catfish he caught, he also spoke at sponsored catfish seminars. 

Fresh bait was his key ingredient. Matt would change his bait often and claimed that larger cats were more effectively caught on fresh bait, versus stink baits.  He was picky about the tides.  He monitored water temperatures, kept an eye out for structure using an underwater camera, and was observant of holes and ambush points like wing dams, and swift waters that made catfish locations a little more predictable. 

Matt also loved to hook people up with fish. It wasn’t uncommon for him to offer up his fishing gear and take people out in his boat to share some of his fishing tips. Rest assured pictures and a detailed fishing report was posted by the following day for others to enjoy.  He even gave up a few of his favorite holes to people who quickly became close friends.   

The outdoorsman had an appreciation for nature and enjoyed the simple things in life.  He became very creative with taking pictures of his catch, especially on solo trips.  He was also known for capturing a shot or two of an impressive sunrise, sunset or fog lifting from the water.   

If you didn’t know about Matt’s comical/prankster side, it was easy to be fooled by his kind and laid back nature.  Just spend a night fishing together or join him in the “man cave”.  He found comedy in the simplest of things: whoopee cushions were a favorite. Even after a spill from a ladder that led to a ruptured Achilles, he found humor in his misfortune, often joking about his “sasquatch-like” crutches with friends that arrived for a visit. Many laughs were had as friends were photographed trying to climb on his crutches. 

Can you imagine the first time you witnessed a friend letting the family dog out using the baitrunner function of his fishing pole?  And when it was time for “Boomer” to come in, simply lock the drag and reel back in! During a fishing tournament, inconspicuously placed baitfish were left in a friends boat as a prank. A close friend was photoshopped in a picture as the culprit, a subject laughed about for months.   

Matt was an avid fan of the Boston Bruins. A hockey player himself, he had to give up his passion for the ice due to a diagnosis of a serious heart condition.  He continued to follow the sport, cheering on the Bruins. During game nights, his friends remember laughing about receiving late night phone calls from Matt trying to persuade them into converting to a Bruins fan. In Matt’s memory, many of his friends found themselves unexpectedly routing for the Bruins during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Eventually the Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks, leaving friends to say they only wished Matt was with them to enjoy the victory.

An avid catfisherman, Bruins fan, and kind and gentle giant, “Channel Matt”, our fallen CTF brother, will be dearly missed.

A memorial catfish tournament is being coordinated by CT Fisherman on Sept. 10 and Sept. 11 in his honor.   

This “Monster Cat Tourney” was one of Matt’s favorite CTF annual tournaments that occurs over a two-day generator powered weekend filled with beach volleyball, an all-night bonfire, tiki lounge and lots of fishing and camaraderie!  This tournament is generally from 7 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday at “Catfish Island” in South Windsor.

His family will have a “Celebration of Life” that will be held on July 9, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Eagles Landing in Haddam, CT.  The family welcomes you to wear Bruins shirts, fishing attire, share stories and bring pictures of Matt.

CT Outfitters of Wethersfield, with the help of many CTF friends, has raised approximately $1,400 towards the “Katrina Fund,” a trust set up for Matt’s daughter.

Memorial contributions can be sent to:

Katrina Schoell Trust

31 Deerhill Lane

Marshfield Hills, MA 02050

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