Nicholas Fortier and Randy Franco show off their Championship cats.
5/13/17 (Huntley, MT)- The 11th Annual Yellowstone Challenge Catfish Tournament once again threw the top catfish anglers in Montana a curve ball. With erratic spring weather, this tourney consistently provides inconsistent and unpredictable conditions. This year wasn’t an exception. Due to unseasonably warm temperatures the week leading up to the event, the river swelled to over 30K CFS, with water levels rising near a foot on tournament day. The increased flows created a make-shift obstacle course on the water with floating debris, trees and branches requiring extra attention during river navigation. Throw in some afternoon rain showers and it was setting up to be an intriguing day on the water.
The anglers, however, were up to the challenge and knocked this curve ball out of the park. An AMAZING 47 teams weighed in a 4 fish limit of cats. 34 teams cracked the 20lb mark, smashing the previous record set in 2013 (14 teams). To put this in perspective, consider that only three other times in tournament history has the field eclipsed 10+ teams weighing in 20lb+ baskets. These amazing fishermen were able to stay safe, have fun and break records in the process.
6th Annual Catfish Clash Champions, Brady Flaten and Nate Molstad
8/20/16- Williston, ND – The 2016 Missouri River Catfish Clash was off and running Friday August 19th with the catfish social and Calcutta at the Four Mile Bar in Williston, North Dakota. Fifty-one teams showed up for the festivities and plenty of tips and techniques were shared amongst the anglers. A record amount of bidding was the perfect intro to an absolutely stunning day on the water. Tournament fishermen couldn’t ask for much better than 70+ degrees, sunny, with little to no wind. Teams were released in flights of ten beginning at 9:00 am from the Lewis and Clark boat launch just outside of Williston. Most teams struggled early, but they were consistently catching fish every hour from there on out. The champions experienced the same during their time on the water. Brady Flaten, Glasgow, MT., and Nate Molstad, Havre, MT, caught an impressive basket of 34.52 lbs., all of them on cut bait and leopard frog. The championship marks the duo’s third Catfish Clash title in only six years of the event. For Nate, it means a record 8th MT Cats Circuit tournament title. (Three more than any other angler.) Congratulations! This championship, however, did not come without a battle. Coming in a very close second was Caleb Wells, Williston, ND, and Joshua Pruitt, Watford City, ND., weighing in s stout 34.36 lbs. Despite missing the top spot by less than two tenths of a pound the Dakota squad was more than satisfied. Third place went to a veteran team, Rod and Rob Seder, out of Billings, MT., with 33.7 lbs. on five fish. Bringing in the big fish honors was Derek Carda, Sidney, MT., catching an 11.99 lb. cat. The Missouri River beast was one of three cats that broke 11 lbs. on the day.
8th Annual Catfish Classic Champions, Matt Reynolds and Carrie Niblock
7/16/16-Sidney, MT— Early on Saturday, Sidney Catfish anglers, Matt Reynolds and Carrie Niblock, didn’t know what the day of fishing would hold. Carrie remarked to Matt early on during the tournament, “how cool would it be to win this thing?”, Matt quipped in return, “I don’t care, I just want my name on one of them t-shirts”. Well, after the dust settled both of those statements are now a reality! Matt said the duo used frogs for bait and targeted most of their cats in cover to help push themselves to 32.17 lbs, resulting in a dominant victory at the 8th Annual Monster Cat Roundup. It was a steady day of fishing for the couple as they caught around a dozen catfish and only had to move anchor four different times. It was an impressive final two hours for the champs, landing four cats, all of which undoubtedly were difference makers in the final standings. Among the cats late to the party for Reynolds and Niblock was Matt’s 8.85 pounder. The fish proved to be the largest one of the day and earned him Big Fish honors as well. It is the first ever Montana Cats tournament championship for either of the anglers. For Niblock it was extra special. She becomes the FIRST female champion in the 42-event history of the Montana Cats Circuit. A special congratulations to Carrie!
12th Annual Savage Champions, Cole Plouffe, Brenner Flaten, Chad Dawson
6/11/16 Savage, MT – For a 12th consecutive year, the Savage Fire Department Catfish Tournament was held in the small Eastern Montana town that hugs the Yellowstone River along the Montana-North Dakota border. The rules remained the same. Each team is allowed to bring five Channel Catfish to weigh-ins. ALL five catfish must fall in the “slot” and measure between 12” and 18”. Anything under 12” or over 18” must released during the tournament and not weighed. This always creates an interesting obstacle for the 3-man teams to overcome. One weekend a year, catfish anglers need to change tactics, shift the focus off of big fish, and scratch and claw for the little guys.
This year was unlike any other on record, however, as twenty-five teams out of sixty weighed in over seven pounds. (a weight that is typically impressive enough to take home the title). Fighting their way to the top of a field littered with impressive weights was the trio of Brenner Flaten, Glasgow, Chad Dawson, Dickinson, ND, and Cole Plouffe, Glendive. Using a run and gun approach and a plethora of different baits, the champs set a NEW all-time tournament record with a basket of fish tipping the scales at 8.305 lbs. “Anytime you can win a tournament it just feels great, regardless of the event or the money on the line, taking hardware home is awesome”. Dawson, Flaten, and Plouffe have teamed up the past four years in Savage and had previously finished in the top six in both 2013 and 2014. Flaten becomes the first 2-time champion in event history. His previous title came in 2006, while teaming up with Jason and Brady Flaten.
17th Annual Catfish Classic Champions, Tyler and Ryan George
6/4/16- Glasgow, MT – The 17th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic lived up to its high expectations this past weekend. As is customary, the festivities began Friday on Glasgow’s famous front street with the fishermen social, calcutta auction, and live band performance. The popular hi-line Phillips County band, “Trial by Fire”, and “Ashes to Ashes”, a premier band from the pacific-northwest, thrilled the crowd throughout the evening. Paul Monson, owner of the Montana Bar, also received the 6th Aaron Chatten Memorial Award during the Friday festivities. It was a perfect start to another action packed Catfish Classic! Montana Cats would like to thank Sarah Partridge with Farm Equipment Sales and the Montana Bar for teaming up with us to provide the Friday night music entertainment.