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!
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.
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.
5/14/16-Huntley, MT— Montana Catfish anglers were brimming with anticipation as the second weekend of May was rapidly approaching. The 10th Annual Yellowstone Challenge, kicking off the Montana Cats tour annually, was just the event to quench that thirst. The weekend started off with an action packed night at Pryor Creek Bar on Friday night, highlighted by the evenings Calcutta/social and ended on Saturday night with crowning a rapidly rising catfish duo that is sure to continue making waves in the future.
Teams worked feverishly for weeks leading up to the event to “pattern” the numerous giant hogs in the Yellowstone, however, mother nature once again threw the competitors for an all too familiar loop. The week leading up to the event saw rapidly changing river conditions. The untamed Yellowstone went from a manageable 10,000 CFS, to a raging 18,000 CFS in just over three days’ mid-tournament week and then returning back down to 11,000 CFS level on tourney day. Falling water conditions and frigid water temps put a tight lip on many Yellowstone beauties. The challenging conditions didn’t hold down all teams though, as tourney vets and rising stars emerged on top of the pack.
4/16/16 – Another winter is in the books up here in Big Sky Country! The end of winter, comes the beginning of spring. The beginning of spring, comes the lure of the most dominant predator within our waters. The Channel Catfish.
Some hard core anglers have been wetting lines in open water since the end of January, but for many the upcoming weeks will signify the beginning of another memorable season. Don’t wait too long to get out there and explore those secret honey holes or toss a line into those secluded bodies of water. Some of the largest Channel Cats ever recorded in Montana history have been landed between mid-March and early May. Remember all it takes for Catfish to wake up from their annual winter slumber is a couple of consecutive warm weather days.
What is your favorite river in Montana? Whether it is the Yellowstone, the Missouri, the Musselshell, the Milk, or anywhere in between; chances are the cats are now beginning to prowl. You can expect the annual spring run-off to begin shortly and we should see a rise in the water levels and a change in water clarity that only a Catfisherman can love and appreciate.
With spring fever also comes the tournament season. Catfish tourney anglers in this part of the country associate May with the annual Yellowstone Challenge in Huntley. As is customary, the Challenge will take place on the 2nd Saturday in May just outside the Billings Metropolitan Area on the beautiful Yellowstone River. The tournament field is made up of 2-man teams and is limited to the first 60 BOATS entered and requires a $100 entry fee. The social and Calcutta is your first chance to talk fishing and see the rest of the Montana Cats crew. It will be held on Friday night May 12th at the Pryor Creek Bar at 6:00 p.m. At the time of this article 45 teams had paid and entered, leaving only 15 spots remaining. Get in before it’s too late!