8/19/2017- Williston, ND – We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the 2017 Catfish Clash, as 53 boats set out to conquer the Mighty Missouri this past weekend! The Williston section always provides big fish and plenty of them. The days leading up to this year’s 7th annual “Clash” were consistent and in-turn it provided a bit of river stability that all anglers were able to enjoy. Weather on the day of the event was about as ideal as one could hope for. Some gusts of wind picked up during the last hour of the event, but for the most part you couldn’t have asked for a much better day. Air temperatures stuck in the mid 80’s, storms stayed by the wayside, river flows (although higher than years past) lacked any major fluctuation, and water temperature was a reasonable 70 degrees.
Targeting post spawn Channel Cats in mid August is not always a gimme, but as the fish look to regain a few lost pounds coming out of spawn, one will always maintain high hopes of coercing a few big cats into taking their baits. Coercing seemed to be the name of the game for many anglers as the ‘sit and stay to make it pay’ method seemed to be a popular vote during weigh in interviews. Fishing was certainly more difficult for this year’s tournament than it had been in the past, however.
Tournament champions Brenner Flaten of Glasgow, MT and Cole Plouffe of Glendive, MT focused on a 3 mile stretch of river to pull away from the field. In a last ditch effort during Friday’s pre-fishing, the duo targeted a short stretch of river that seemed to be holding some decent catfish. The duo had strategized going into Saturday, and as the horn sounded the next morning, Brenner and Cole ventured to that same familiar location to find their theory was indeed correct. They landed the majority of their fish in the first few hours of the day and credited frogs to being their bait of choice. They had their limit of five cats at just under 36 pounds just before the noon hour. They were unable to upgrade in the afternoon, but it didn’t end up mattering. Their “hot stretch” of river produced nearly 25 cats in total for the seasoned tournament anglers! Flaten and Plouffe had teamed up for three previous Catfish Clash events and had placed in the top 8 all three times, this year they finally scaled the mountain. The championship is Brenner’s 6th career MT Cats Circuit victory.
Brady Flaten of Glasgow, MT and Nate Molstad of Havre,MT are the two most decorated anglers in Clash history, and they nearly pulled it off once again! Concentrating on just a handful of spots, both above and below the bridge, they too ‘grinded it out’ so to speak. The bite may have been a grind as they were only able to land ten fish, but the quality of fish (including Nate’s Big Fish Runner Up of 10.95 lbs) was enough to put these two in second place with an outstanding 33.60 pound basket. The 3-time champions certainly have nothing to hang their heads about after another fine performance.