A group of lawmakers is renewing the effort to designate the channel catfish as the state’s official fish. Eighty-one-year-old George Marzeck of West Burlington has been promoting the idea of naming the “channel cat” the state fish for the past 37 years. “This all started back in 1968 when I started doing some articles for the Burlington Hawkeye and I got to talking to the sports editor and I said ‘Hey, what do you think of the idea of having a state fish for Iowa?'” Marzeck says. In a recent letter to a state senator, Marzeck said “three of (his) doctors believe (his) continuing determination to get the channel catfish named the official state fish of Iowa is helping (him) put on a pretty good battle against (his) third bout of cancer.” Marzeck’s a retired writer, photographer and illustrator who did work for magazines like Midwest Outdoors, Field and Stream and Fur, Fish and Game. “I’ve had outdoor writers from all over the country tell me ‘I never go through Iowa without stopping for one of your delicious catfish dinners,'” so I says ‘Hey, let’s balleyhoo this thing and maybe bring in some more revenue from people passing through,” Marzeck says. Marzeck says catfish is the tastiest fish you can poke a fork into. “I don’t think there’s a place in Iowa that serves food that doesn’t have catfish on the menu. When you have a church social or any kind of a gathering, what do you serve? Catfish and hush puppies, and cole slaw, maybe.” State Senator Eugene Fraise, a democrat from Fort Madison, has taken up Marzeck’s cause, pushing for the past eight years to get the catfish special recognition. “We have the state bird. We have the state tree. We have the state rock. We have the state flower. Why not the state fish?” Fraise asks. In the past, it’s been Fraise alone pressing the issue but this year, he’s got 14 other senators cosponsoring the move to honor the catfish. “It’s just one of those things that I’d like to see happen and it would be kind of neat if we get the votes, that we bring George up here and have him in the chamber when we pass that resolution that he’s been working on all these years,” Fraise says. The catfish is the most-consumed fish in Iowa, according to Fraise. “It has its own distinctive flavor over other fish,” Fraise says. “If go in to a restaurant and am going to order fish, I’ll order catfish. Both men believe the attention on the catfish will boost recreational fishing.”That is one of the delights of life to be, in the spring of the year, sitting on the riverbank and nothing going on but the birds a flying around and the water going by,” Fraise says. “It’s really quite a therapy to sit and fish. Anyone who that hasn’t tried it ought to.” What does a catfish look like? It’s big — a full-grown catfish weighs about 20 pounds and is about two feet long. It’s skin is green, with dark spots. Catfish can be found in nearly every waterway in Iowa.
You are here: / / Effort underway to hook channel cat as state fish