When you think of Indianapolis, Indiana, for most people the first thing that comes to mind is the Indy 500. Close after that are the Colts or the Pacers. Indianapolis is the state capital and the county seat of Marion County, but above all else this is a sports town with 10 professional sports teams and countless amateur teams. When I visited Indianapolis right before the Indy 500 this year, the state high school basketball championship was in full swing and there was scarcely a motel room left in town, and the city population is over 800,000.
What is less well-known is that Indianapolis may also be the best place in the U.S. to go catfishing within the city limits, and the guy who can show you why and how is Eddie Brochin.
Eddie is no stranger to outdoor sportsmen. Since 2001, he has produced and hosted 60 episodes of outdoor shows – “Outdoors With Eddie Brochin,” “The Ultimate Outdoorsman,” and “ Ultimate Outdoors with Eddie Brochin” – that have appeared on Fox Sports Midwest, The Sportsman Channel, The Pursuit Channel, Versus, WHT, Wild TV, Untamed Sports TV, and Legacy TV (all episodes are available at travelvideostore.com).
Born in 1971, Eddie split his younger years between rural Indiana and the Texas border. Starting at age four, he was taught hunting skills from his father and grandfather. When he was strong enough to pull back a traditional wooden recurve bow, he started shooting and has stuck with traditional archery ever since. He also started fishing at about the same time. If you log onto to his website you will see him called “Captain Eddie.” The reason for this is that he is licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard to pilot a 50-ton ship as well as take you fishing.
Eddie says that he was a small kid, and the area where he lived in Texas was pretty rough. He got into martial arts for self-defense. When you get to know this guy, what impresses you is his intensity, which has translated into both his passions (hunting and fishing) and martial arts.
Not only does he guide and host outdoor TV shows, but Eddie is an internationally-acclaimed martial artist. Between 1983 and 2003, Eddie, who holds a 5th degree black belt in taekwondo, fought 500 matches all around the world, winning all but 37 and never being knocked out. In the midwest, he never lost a match. A seven-time Indiana state bantam-weight champion, Eddie was the North American champion in 1999. He has scores of medals and trophies at his TKO Taekwondo dojang in Indianapolis, which is the largest martial arts dojang in the city. An extraordinary athlete, he earned the nickname “the Bird” during his competition years, as he could leap over an automobile and break a board with his feet.
Since retiring from competition, aside from teaching martial arts, Eddie has also run a number of large martial arts tournaments, including the North American Open Taekwondo Tournament — three times.
The reason I was in Indianapolis was to work with Eddie on a new TV series on falconry, but more about that later, because after a couple days of work, Eddie says “Let’s go fishin’!”
He asked me about my personal best for catfish. Growing up on an island in Lake Erie, we caught channel cats up to 2-3 pounds and lots of bullheads. Eddie smiles, and then he tells me that I can catch lunker cats without even leaving the city.
We hit the water on Geist Lake on the northeast side of Indianapolis at daybreak. The Geist Reservoir is a pleasant body of water surrounded by upscale houses. The first place we head for is the marina as Eddie says that we need bait. I figured he was going to buy some nightcrawlers, like what we used on Lake Erie. Nope. We land at the dock and Eddie pulls a throw net out of a box on the deck, hops on the deck, and tosses it out. When the net comes in, it yields several 4”-6” silvery shad.
“Just keep the big ones,” Eddie says. “Big bait means big fish.”
In 15-20 minutes we have several dozen shad as big as some perch I have kept. Then we head for his secret spot and anchor. We are using fairly light tackle – 15 lb test line and bass rods and reels. The first bite comes in about 10 minutes and I land a 7-pound channel cat, which soon became the first of three fish topping out at 10 pounds. Eddie is fishing with huge shad for bait. Suddenly his rod bends over and he strikes. Fifteen minutes later a huge channel cat is swirling in the water next to the boat. Seeing the boat, the fish dives and the line snaps. I would not swear that the fish was twice as big as my 10-pounder, but it was real close, if not bigger.
A couple hours on Geist Lake and we’ve landed half a dozen cats that together might weigh 40 pounds. Time to go, as Eddie is helping with a kids’ fishing derby. The kids caught bluegills, some of them the size of salad plates. These fish were just right for a fish fry in my experience, but when I bring that up Eddie just smiles and says, “bait.”
We head back for some dinner, and then as twilight approaches Eddie hooks up the trailer and heads for White River State Park, which is in the city limits. Swimming in the bait tank are a dozen big bluegills. Eddie, his son and I launch the boat on the White River and head for one of Eddie’s favorite spots, beside a log jam on a bend. In the near distance you can see the lights of the downtown area.
Nighthawks and bats are swooping overhead as we toss out the lines, each baited with monster bluegills. This time, no messing around, we are using offshore tackle. After several days of busy schedules, we kick back and watch the city slip into night time. The first hit comes on a line near the log jam. The rod bends over double, the drag comes on and screams as the fish dives, and five minutes later the fish has wrapped itself around a log.
Eddie’s son is next to hook up, landing a flathead cat about 18 pounds, which to me is huge. Eddie chuckles and says “guppy.”
Settling back into waiting, I ask Eddie about fish he’s caught in this spot. He says that his biggest has been 69 pounds, but his favorite fish is “old one-eye.” Apparently 10 years ago Eddie caught a flathead cat at about 24 pounds that had one eye. He released the fish. Last year, he hooked a huge flathead and landed it, topping the scales at 67 pounds. The fish had one eye, the same eye as the one he released 10 years prior. And it’s still there, as he released ol’ one-eye after taking a picture.
As he ends his story, my rod bends over. Eddie says to set the hook like it was a marlin on the other end. I do and the battle is on. This fish moves the boat as it makes runs. Finally, I get him up to the boat and we land him. Thirty pounds. My biggest fish on a line, aside from salmon in the ocean. A picture and then he goes back. (There’s at least two big ones there waiting for you.)
So, if you want to tussle with a big catfish, and enjoy some fabulous sports games as well, head for Indianapolis and give Captain Eddie a call. Eddie also guides hunting trips for whitetail deer, turkey, javelina, bobcats, puma, and various exotic game animals. Locations that he offers guided trips include Indiana, Texas, Florida, and Mexico.
Okay, before the fishing story, I mentioned that I was in Indianapolis to work with Eddie on a new TV series about falconry. In 2003 Eddie, “the Bird,” began to learn the art of falconry, apprenticing under the tutelage of Master Greg Thomas. Eddie has since become a USFWS Master Falconer in his own right, and he owns a red-tailed hawk named “Chase” and a great horned owl named “Radar.” But true to form, when Eddie gets hooked on something he likes to go for the gold. He became so interested in falconry that he decided that he had to go seek out the real masters of the sport. So, he took his film crew with him to Mongolia, where people have hunted with birds of prey for over 3,000 years, to learn about hunting with eagles. And Eddie learned about flying eagles, birds big enough to take down a wolf.
Eddie’s series is going to be called The Sport of Kings. Sony Pictures TV has an option on the series, and negotiations are underway with major networks to air the series, which will follow the history and legacy of falconry all around the world. You can see the trailer for the first show embedded below.
Eddie Brochin is a passionate sportsman as well as an accomplished martial artist. His goal has always been to learn, grow and serve. After four days with him, I kept thinking about how he reminded me of an actor. Finally it came to me. He looks a lot like Johnny Depp. (When I said this to him, Eddie admitted that he has dressed up as a pirate for costume parties and people think he is Johnny Depp.)
So, Johnny, if you happen to read this column and want a stunt double extraordinaire, head for Indianapolis and see how Captain Eddie, “the Bird,” could take some of your risky stunts as well as give you some leisure time to kick back and go fishing.
Images courtesy James Swan and Eddie Brochin