Record Setting Performance in Savage
June 11, 2016 by MT Cats Staff
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.........Read More
Montana Cats 2016 Outlook
April 16, 2016 by MT Cats Staff
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.......Read More
Montana Cats 2015 Outlook
March 29, 2015 by MT Cats Staff
3/29/15 — Hello all and welcome to our newly redesigned website. What a better way to kick off the 2015 catfishing season than with a brand new place for catfish enthusiasts throughout the region to gather information and interact with others. Montana Cats was launched nine years ago next month. We have grown into one of the........Read More
Sidney Trio Takes the Title in Savage
June 14, 2014 by MT Cats Staff
6/14/14 Savage, MT – The Annual Savage Fire Department Catfish Tournament has carved out quite the niche for itself over the past eleven years. Savage’s unique “slot fish” rules have become common knowledge by now and has turned into an event where even the most avid “big fish” angler enjoys a weekend to just “change it up” a bit. For those in the dark, SVFD’s annual event is held in Savage, MT. on the beautiful Yellowstone River on the second Saturday of every June. Anglers are only allowed to bring in their five biggest catfish to weigh-ins. Here is the kicker however; all of those catfish must fall between 12” and 18”. This causes veteran catfish anglers to change up their tactics a touch and also start looking in new areas. Anglers must adjust their way of thinking, chasing the big fish won’t pay off here. Everyone must try to focus on what attracts the little guys, so to speak. Weigh-ins are always an adrenaline rush and that carries over to the awards presentation on Saturday night........Read More
Montana Cats 2014 Outlook
February 26, 2014 by MT Cats Staff
2/26/14 – Every year around this time the catfish crowd starts to get a little restless. It’s like clockwork. The calendar flips to March and it doesn’t matter if its still 20 below with the wind chill outside, it could just as well be 70 degrees and sunny because the “catfish fever” is in full effect. Some common cures for this type of fever you might ask? Warmer temperatures, longer days, and trip and tackle preparations are just a few ways to start the healing process. It’s always a good time to start cleaning the fishing storage at the house or in the garage and do a little gear cleaning and maintenance as well. By taking these steps it’s easier to decide what needs to be fixed or purchased for the upcoming open water season. It is also a great time to start scratching off a few summer weekend days for some leisurely fishing with the friends or family. For the avid tournament angler, what better time than to get signed up for anyone of the outstanding events scheduled for 2014 on the Montana Cats Tournament Circuit? For us on staff, March isn’t all that bad. March signifies that we are that much closer to catfish season and it won’t be long before we see the bend in our rods and the pulling of our drags. When that time comes, the “catfish fever” will have subsided and will be replaced with months of fishing adventures.........Read More
Glendive Native Releases Trophy of a Lifetime
September 10, 2013 by MT Cats Staff
For the past 27 years, Bruce Storlie of Glendive, MT., has been hunting elk on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge far west of the Crooked Creek recreation area on Fort Peck Reservoir. He has made it a habit of chasing big game during the morning, while chasing cats all afternoon. This year, however, would turn out to be unlike any of the previous 26 years. At 11:00 a.m. on September 26th, while fishing with his hunting partner and brother, Mike Storlie, Bruce set the hook on a massive fish. Bruce remembered joking with his brother at the time of the initial fight, “I think I got the new state record catfish here.” Bruce knew it was big; after all they had caught catfish up to 18 lbs. on previous hunting trips to the area. But this was something bigger and much stronger than ever before. Fishing with only 10 lb. monofilament and his reel nearly out of line all together, Bruce decided to step out of the boat that was wedged near the shore and start walking after the fish with fear that it might just snap him off. After walking an estimated 3/4 of a mile and battling him for nearly a half hour, Bruce was finally able to wrestle the behemoth to shore.
Taking his time to catch his breath, the two immediately knew it was the biggest catfish they had ever seen. Conversation shifted to getting the beast on a scale right away and find out just what they were dealing with. Bruce had a 28 lb. Deliar spring scale on hand, so they put the fish on it and it immediately bottomed it out. The brothers had another 8 lb. Deliar and worked feverishly to try and rig something up using both scales in order to get a more accurate weight but to no avail. They did however, have a tape measure available, and measured the length at an incredible 40″, with a 25″ girth. They both came to the conclusion that the fish was more than likely in the 32 lb. range. Recalling previous conversations had with other anglers and friends, Bruce was quite sure the current Montana State record was 32 lbs. Mike agreed.
tual catch.Read More
Cabelas King Kat Invades Grand Forks
August 17, 2013 by MT Cats Staff
8/17/13 East Grand Forks, MN – The Cabela’s King Kat Tournament Trail hit the waters of the Red River at Grand Forks, North Dakota. In the event over 80 of the top anglers from 9 different states were competing not only for the cash and prizes, but the opportunity to qualify for the 2013 Cabela’s King Kat Classic. This year’s Cabela’s King Kat Classic will be held September 26-28, 2013 on Kentucky Lake at Camden, Tennessee Be sure to check out our new website at King Kat USA. It’s a new site with new and exciting information on our events along with special information for catfish anglers.........Read More
Locals Take 10th Annual Savage Crown
June 08, 2013 by MT Cats Staff
6/8/13 Savage, MT – Low water was in store for the Savage Catfish Tournament over the weekend and it obviously did not affect the fishing. In what might have been the most impressive weights in the tournaments history, the entire top ten weighed in over five pounds. Keeping with its traditional rules of weighing your biggest five cats in the twelve to eighteen inch bracket anything over five pounds has to be considered an excellent day on the water. Winning their first ever Savage Catfish Tournament championship was the trio of: Jerame Schephens, Loren Kutzler, and Randall Obergfell. The local anglers are the 10th different team to win this tournament, as there has never been a repeat winner. Their winning weight of 7.840 lbs. eclipsed the previous tournament record set by the Mueller brothers last year at 7.830 lbs. Speaking of the defending champs, Chad Mueller and Jusin Verhasselt teamed up with Brandon Mueller to nearly defend their crown. They weighed an impressive basket of cats that would end up tipping the scales at 6.710 lbs. Rounding out the top three with 6.375 lbs. was Harlen Conradsen, Judy Conradsen, and Trisha Schepens. The local teams continue to make a huge impact on this event. Jesi Thiel, Teresa Weber and Rebecca Miller caught the biggest catfish of the tournament on Saturday, winning the separate big fish pot. The team’s fish was 15.82 pounds, another Savage Catfish Tournament record and a true fish of a lifetime.Read More
Sweet Repeat at Lake Mac Cat Classic
May 04, 2013 by MT Cats Staff
Lewellen, NE 5/4/13 – The 16th Annual Lake McConaughy Catfish Classic took place over the weekend and impressive baskets once again littered the weigh-ins. With the lake being down dramatically from last year, it forced some teams to change up their approach. Some teams undoubtedly struggled with the difference in water levels, while others seemed to have adjusted without fault. As with any other year of this event, every team has to deal with the difficult decision of fishing the lake in the comforts of their boat or hoofing it on the banks of the North Platte River in search of some success from the shore. The decision you ultimately make can make the difference in an appearance near the top of the leader board or one that has you bringing up the rear.
For the second consecutive year, Kevin Robertson and Doug Canning manned their airboat up the river to produce a ten fish limit that no one else could challenge. Robertson and Canning are the first to win back-to-back titles since tournament results started being recorded. And for the second straight year, the team that they nipped for the top prize was their sons. Nathan Robertson and Jeremy Canning, also fishing from an airboat, claimed the runner-up trophy for the second consecutive year. As if last years loss of less than one pound to their fathers wasn’t enough already, the duo would come up less than 1 1/2 pounds short this go around. Excruciating losses for family bragging rights for the both of them, but an unbelievable performance nonetheless for the second straight year. Both of these teams deserve a ton of credit for winning last year and then coming back and proving no luck was involved. As of right now, they all deserve the title of “Cat Classic Kings”.
The top ten looked eerily similar to previous years, especially last year. Seven of the top 10 teams from 2012 returned to the top ten this year. Last years third place team of Mark Canning and Alex Canning finished a very respectable 10th place. Finishing in third place this year was Kendal Kessler and Bob Mallard. As was the case with the top two teams, Kessler and Mallard also targeted their cats in the North Platte River throughout the day. Nathan Robertson and Jeremy Canning captured their own repeat of sorts over the weekend by capturing their second consecutive big fish award. Their cat tipped the scales at 12.72 lbs., the biggest cat caught at the Classic in many years. Two other cats were weighed in at over 11 lbs., proving the big fish are definitely out there to be caught.
The Lake Mac Cat Classic just never seems to disappoint. Every year it is one of the most well attended events in catfish tournament rich Nebraska. The teams come back every single year to Darrell and crew at The Oregon Trail Trading Post. Everyone comes back because they put on a truly fine event. Do yourself a favor and pencil in May 3rd, 2014 for the 17th version of this tournament. You will be treated to a calcutta and social on Friday night complete with a free team meal and Saturday will provide you with ten hours of non-stop tournament action. Please enjoy the complete results from this past weekend.Read More
Montana Cats 2013 Outlook
March 01, 2013 by MT Cats Staff
In the sport of catfishing, there is probably only one thing that can compare to the adrenaline rush you receive when landing and releasing a trophy. That one thing is the smell of spring thaw and the thought of open water. Now that March is upon us and the peak of winter has come to pass it is time to start looking forward to the new season. All of us here at Montana Cats cannot wait to get 2013 kicked off with a bang. Before you know it, you will be gripping that rod, smiling, and waiting with nervous anticipation for your first big “thump” of the season. Lets hope that first one, is truly a memorable one, and starts this season off right.Read More
Team MT Cats Compete at Cabelas King Kat
August 25, 2012 by MT Cats Staff
Burwell, NE 8/25/12 – The largest and most recognized catfish circuit in the country finally found it’s way to within Nebraska borders. Cabelas answered the call from many of the regions top anglers that have been clamoring for a shot at a championship event against some of the nations best and a chance to qualify for the famous Cabelas King Kat Classic held at the end of every September. The event was held at the renowned Calamus Reservoir in Northeast Nebraska, home to some of the biggest channel cats in the world, and it simply did not disappoint. Much to the pleasure of Cabelas and the Burwell, Nebraska chamber of commerce the leader board showcased just why it was a sought after location for such an event.
Thirty-five high profile teams, from eight different states, flocked to the rural area reservoir. Lincoln, Nebraska anglers, Josh Koll and Mat Helm, turned in one of the best Channel Catfish limits ever seen on the Cabelas King Kat circuit. The amazing basket tipped the scales at 118.75 lbs. An astonishing 23.75 lb. average. For their efforts they received a check for $2,500 and a guaranteed spot in the Cabelas King Kat Classic. The veteran tournament squad used an unconventional approach on the waters of Calamus, choosing to anchor up in fourteen to seventeen feet with cut shad and creek chubs. It paid off in a big way. The rest of the top five all chose to use the ever-popular drift fishing method. Taking runner-up honors were Kansas natives, David Studebaker and Rich Witt. Their five fish limit was impressive in its own right; coming in at 79.75 lbs. Rounding out the top three was Cory Muhlbach of Shelton, Nebraska and Craig Stephens of Riverdale, Nebraska with 75.4 lbs.. Craig is an experienced Nebraska Circuit angler and the president of Central Nebraska Cats.
Montana Cats was well represented by Jason Flaten of Gillette, Wyoming and Chad Dawson of Dickinson, ND. Fishing in their first ever King Kats event, they found themselves just outside the top five. Finishing in 6th place with 55 lbs., less than four lbs. out of 4th place. The top 20 teams automatically qualified for the King Kat Classic, so there outstanding finish more than got that job done. Following the weekend of events, Cabelas was so impressed with the body of water and the limits that hit the scales that they already marked a return trip for next year on August 24th, 2013. Results such as these and quality team numbers are beginning to move the circuit northwest. In 2013, Cabelas will make stops in Burwell, Nebraska, South Sioux City, Nebraska, and Grand Forks, North Dakota. News like that is certainly exciting for the competitive catfish angler in this part of the country! Please enjoy the top six results from Calamus below.Read More
Muellers, Verhaselt Break Savage Record
June 09, 2012 by MT Cats Staff
Savage, MT 6/9/12 – The 9th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Dept. Catfish Tournament is officially in the books and this years leader board truly tells the tale. In a year where records seem to be falling left and right on the Montana Cats Tour, the Savage tournament proved to be no different. Never before had so much weight been brought to the scales. Once again anglers were only able to weigh-in their five biggest slot fish, as only 12″ to 18″ cats count towards your final tally. Anytime you can land over five pounds it is a very successful day on the water and anything near six and you very well could be looking at a championship. This year it took nearly six pounds just to squeak into the top six and take home some prize money.
Local anglers, Chad Mueller, Brady Mueller, and Justin Verhaselt would rise above the rest and turn in a new tournament record, 7.83 lbs, besting the previous mark set by Brenner, Brady, and Jason Flaten in 2006 at 7.74 lbs. The trio pointed to the use of chicken livers and targeting current seems as their keys to the championship. Brady and Chad are some of Montana’s most accomplished catfish tourney anglers and were excited to sit atop the mountain after many years of knocking on the door. Brady has a runner-up finish at the Monster Cat Roundup in 2010, a 12th place finish in last years Milk River Catfish Classic, and a top-five finish at last years Inaugural Missouri River Catfish Clash, while Chad is a two-time runner up at Sidney’s Monster Cat Roundup in 2009 and 2011. A well deserved title indeed.
Taking runner-up honors was the tournament veteran crew of Brenner Flaten, Chad Dawson, and Cade Flaten. Finishing well off the pace, they weighed in a five catfish limit at 6.50 lbs. The three anglers felt fortunate after the events culmination, as they did not have a single slot fish in the boat before noon. Rounding out the top three was another local squad: Don Mastvelten, Kirk Sanders, and Donny Dillman. They pushed for 2nd place honors, coming up just short with 6.45 lbs. Despite not be able to weigh-in a slot fish, Brandon Mueller was able to bring even more success to the Mueller family this past weekend. Brandon cashed-in on the tournaments big fish pot when he weighed in a 14.435 lb. Yellowstone trophy. It is one of the bigger fish ever weighed in at the Savage tournament and Brandon’s personal best after many years of chasing kitties in the Sidney area. Congrats on a fantastic catch Brandon!
There are a few things that you can always count on when it comes to fishing. A great time in Savage, Montana on the second weekend of every June is one of them certainties. The folks with the Savage Volunteer Fire Dept. are first class and put on a top shelf event year in and year out. If you are an avid tournament angler and would like the challenge of targeting “slot fish” for a change, it is time to start making your plans. We can assure you it will not disappoint. Anglers who have fished the tournament the previous year always have the first chance at registration, so if you are new to the party, do not wait long as it fills its 60-team field very quick. Come and enjoy an incredible calcutta that you have to see to believe and enjoy a farm-raised catfish feed after a long day on the water. Please enjoy the top six results from this past weekend’s event below.Read More
Records Smashed at Lake Mac
May 05, 2012 by MT Cats Staff
Lewellen, NE 5/5/12 – The water is back up on Lake McConaughy and it seems to only be benefitting the area catfish population. When the catfish are active, the annual Nebraska Catfish Classic held on Lake Mac and the North Platte River is tough to beat. The 15th Annual took place this past weekend, headquartered once again out of the Oregon Trail Trading Post in Lewellen, Nebraska. Darrell and the crew kicked off the weekend with a free fisherman’s feed, followed by the Calcutta and social on Friday night. The weather cooperated with sunny skies opening up to provide an 80-degree day for all to enjoy.
Rest assured, no one in attendance will soon forget what they witnessed at the weigh-ins. For the second year in a row, the tournament record was broken, however, this time it went down by over ten pounds. Kevin Robertson and Doug Canning placed their 10-fish limit on the scale and watched it dial up to an amazing, 92.68 lbs. The duo had a balanced basket with nearly every fish over 9 lbs., and their biggest coming in at 10.4 lbs. They pointed to using live minnows and having some valuable pre-fishing as the keys to the impressive victory. Both men were excited to finally claim the tournaments top prize after competing in the event for over a decade.
Perhaps the bigger prize is the bragging rights they have now acquired over their sons, Nathan Robertson and Jeremy Canning, who came in nipping at their heals with an equally amazing basket of fish, tipping the scales at 91.78 lbs. Nathan and Jeremy came up just short of taking down their elders, but can be proud of the fact that they weighed in the second biggest weight in the fifteen years of the event. They were aided by the big fish of the day, a 12.14 lb. bruiser. Focusing their efforts up the North Platte River, the teammates managed to catch, what they estimate to be, over 100 catfish on the day and were not able to keep more than two rods in the water at any time. Both of the top two teams had the benefit of Air Boats to navigate the rough terrain that the North Platte is known for, especially in low flows, as was the case this year.
Rounding out the top three was Mark Canning and Alex Canning with an impressive 10-fish basket at 80.92 lbs. Incredibly, thirteen teams brought in over 60 lbs. and over half of the 52-team field weighed in over 30 lbs. The day proved difficult for some of the teams, however, as eighteen teams failed to weigh fish. Every year teams have to make the all-important decision on whether to concentrate their efforts in the lake or make their way up the river. The decision can often make or break a team’s ultimate success and this year was no different.
Any prospective catfish tournament anglers looking for an early season event that is fun, profitable, and accommodating look no further than the Lake Mac Cat Classic making its return for a sixteenth time next year on Saturday May 4th, 2013. Darrell and the crew at the Oregon Trail Trading Post will treat you right and you will make a few friends in the process. Please enjoy the complete results and podcasts from this past weekend below.Read More
Montana Cats 2012 Outlook
April 04, 2012 by MT Cats Staff
The sun is beginning to peak through in Big Sky Country. That can only mean one thing to all of us here. Its almost catfishing season! For many of us, this open water season cannot arrive fast enough. Due to last years harsh winter season and the record-breaking snowfall it seems as if it’s been two years since some of us have hit the water. That winter had a major effect on last seasons warm water fishing. Many of the rivers and streams across Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas were nearly unfishable for a lot of the spring and summer months, or at the very least, a precarious situation for many. Those that did brave the conditions, however, were treated to some of the finest catfishing in recent memory. Even the surrounding reservoirs reached all-time peak levels and provided anglers with a new obstacle when targeting their favorite species. The Montana Cats Circuit was also affected greatly. A record setting Yellowstone Challenge beat the rough high water conditions and went off without a hitch last May. The same could not be said for the remaining three events on tour. For the first time in history, Montana Cats was forced to move an event to a later date. The 12th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic faced a “100 year flood” on the Milk River and was forced from its customary 1st weekend in June, and moved to mid July. The tournament did not disappoint, however, despite the change of plans as the 2nd greatest weight in tournament history hit the scales. The Monster Cat Roundup, held in Sidney in July and the Inaugural Missouri River Catfish Clash held in August, out of Williston, ND, were both held in flood conditions, but the catfish didn’t seem to mind as new tournament records were achieved and the bars were raised high for future years to come. Outside of the tournament scene, positive fishing reports came from every direction as late summer and fall gave way to more stable river conditions. One body of water in general, the Milk River, seen three cats of greater than fifteen pounds pulled from its depths. This is unheard of for the modern day Mighty Milk. All three genuine trophies were released to fight another day. Fort Peck Reservoir and the Yellowstone River also boasted numerous large fish in the summer of 2011.Read More
High Waters, Weather Effect Savage Tournament
June 11, 2011 by MT Cats Staff
Savage, MT 6/11/11 – The 8th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Dept. Catfish Tournament brought an all-new ball game this year. Only two weeks prior to the event, the Savage area was dealing with all-time record flows and high water. This in turn dramatically changed the traditional tournament landscape. Anglers had to deal with extremely high fluctuating waters, impassible muddy banks, and unstable weather leading up to the tournament. The prevailing thought was that it would be a struggle to catch the illusive “slot fish” needed to take home the top honors. (teams are only allowed to weigh-in 12″ to 18″ channel catfish) When anglers gathered on Friday night for the annual calcutta, the tournament organizers promised the event would go on as planned and it would be a success. 61 teams filled the competition nearly six weeks in advance. Despite the weather and high water, there was the usual excitement in the air.
This year’s event would smash tournament records, unfortunately in a way the anglers would like to avoid. Their thoughts and concerns came true as it turned out to be the most difficult Savage tournament on record. The statistics were staggering; only eleven teams would catch a fish, and twenty-one total catfish would hit the scales. Not a single team weighed in their limit of five “slot fish”, and one 17″ slot fish would be good enough for sixth place and a spot in the prize money. Tournament veteran, Jim Messer, would captain the championship squad. Jim’s team weighed in four cats at 5.175 lbs., blowing away the field by more than 6 tenths of a pound. Shawn Conradsen captained the runner-up squad, catching four fish at 4.455 lbs. Local angler, Bink Miller, cashed in on a separate cash pool reserved for the big fish contest. Bink’s big cat tipped the scales at 7.955 lbs.
As is customary at the Savage catfish tourney, the fire dept. hosted the community and tournament anglers to a farm raised catfish feed following the weigh-ins and award presentation. Despite the high water, the event once again went off without a hitch. The fire dept. and the whole community of Savage should be commended for their outstanding hospitality and ability to put on such a fun-filled event. The 9th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Dept. Catfish Tournament will return to Savage on Saturday, June 9th 2012. As a reminder, returning teams will be mailed entry forms next April, they will have until May 1st to fill out the form and return. On May 1st the tournament will open to the public and new anglers will be able to join in on the fun. Hope to see you all next yRead More
International Catfish Symposium
June 01, 2011 by MT Cats Staff
Back in June 1998, a breakthrough was made in the catfishing world. That year the First International Catfish Symposium was formed, referred to as “Catfish 2000”. Catfish 2000 was a meeting of the minds in Davenport, Iowa. It consisted of the finest professors, biologists, fisherman, and conservationists involved with the species. The knowledge that was shared at that meeting and the published proceedings has served as the basis of our current understanding of the entire species. For the next decade, the findings from that Symposium had been referenced and studied by nearly everyone involved in the sport of catfishing. As is so often the case in all areas of science, great advancements had been made over the course of twelve years. A large amount of studies had been performed and new information was now available for everyone in the catfish world.
We at Montana Cats, like so many others, knew that a new Symposium could very well be just around the corner. It was announced in the fall of 2009 that the 2nd International Catfish Symposium, Catfish 2010, would be coming to St. Louis, Missouri in June. In the months after the announcement, the anticipation began to build on what would be included at the Symposium. Even the legendary Bill Dance was excited about it, inviting everyone to the event.. This year’s addition would include a catfishRead More
Montana Cats 2011 Outlook
May 01, 2011 by MT Cats Staff
Living in Montana, Wyoming, or the Dakotas can be a frustrating experience for the open water angler. Our time on the water is often limited to seven months, followed by a long hard winter filled with only thoughts of big fish and late night camping adventures. Thankfully, the time has officially arrived! With the weather warming and ice beginning to break on our rivers and reservoirs across the region it is time to get excited and gear up for another catfishing season. As accustomed at Montana Cats, the yearly preview article is intended to serve one sole purpose. We want to put spring fishing on your brain! Late March and into early April can be the most overlooked catfish bight in our area, it will provide some of the biggest catfish you will see the entire year. If there is a time to grab a lawn chair or throw an anchor and just sit, this could be your time. Go out and find that hot spot, that wintering location, where the cats are plentiful. Chances are the channel cats haven’t begun their early season transition, and there is a good shot that their strapping on the feedbag. Whether you are a river or a reservoir angler there is ample opportunity for you this spring. It’s up to you to seize that opportunity. Is it time for the second thirty-pound Channel Cat to come out of Montana waters? Can you break your personal record and hook into one that is worthy of “hanging on the wall”? Get out there and enjoy the great outdoors, then swing in and share your adventure and the fishing story with all of us here at Montana Cats.
With a new fishing season also brings a new tournament season! Like so many of us, if you share a love for fishing and an interest in competition, then the Montana Cats Tournament Circuit is for you. 2011 will provide a slight makeover from the previous seasons on tour. The season will once again open up in Huntley, MT with the annual Yellowstone Challenge, however some changes have taken place. This years event will be bumped up to the first weekend in May, it will be Montana Cats first “boat only” tournament, and it will be scaled back to a fifty team limit. The second stop on tour will be the 12th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic in Glasgow, MT and will take place on the first weekend in June. This year’s biggest change is the addition of our first North Dakota event. The Inaugural Missouri River Catfish Clash will be held out of Williston, ND and will be replacing the Bighorn Catfish tournament. It will be held annually on the third weekend in June. The final stop on tour will bring you back to Eastern Montana, to Sidney, for the 3rd Annual Monster Cat Roundup. Moving back to its traditional second weekend in July, the Roundup should be a blast this season and a great culminating event for the association. Enjoy the tournament schedule below. Click on the tournament names below to download the entry forms and join in on all the fun. We hope to see every one of you out on the water in 2011!Read More
7th Annual First Class Cat Attack
July 24, 2010 by MT Cats Staff
South Sioux City, NE 7/24/10 – What a weekend in Northeast Nebraska as the First Class Cat Attack came roaring into town. For the first time in tournament history, the headquarters were moved across the Mighty Missouri River from Sioux City, Iowa to South Sioux City, Nebraska. It turned out to be a great move! The city of South Sioux couldn’t wait to play host to one of the finest catfish tournaments in the country, and it didn’t disappoint. Over the course of the past six years, the First Class Cat Attack has attracted anglers from all over the mid-western United States for a chance at some catfish fame. The 7th Annual event was no different, as 45 teams from 6 different states converged on the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. The anglers were once again targeting all three major species of catfish; the Channel, Blue, and the Flathead.
This years version of the Cat Attack provided teams with an all new obstacle to overcome as both rivers were running much higher than normal. To make matters worse, the South Sioux area was hit with another couple inches of rain just days before the event. The added precipitation from the storm had the Big Sioux River bursting at its seams and the Missouri River on a rapid rise. The high water undoubtedly put some teams in a panic and out of some of their comfort levels. As it turns out, the water levels had a drastic impact on the overall catch rate. Not a single team weighed in their limit of 10 catfish, and 20 teams failed to catch a single fish.
There were many teams who seemed to use all of it to there advantage, however, none more impressively than the duo of Travis Carter, of Elk Point, South Dakota, and Dan Foss, of Onawa, Iowa. The impressive teammates focused their efforts in the Missouri River, jumping on the competition early on in the day. They ultimately weighed in eight catfish, six flathead and 2 channels, that tipped the scales at 26.40 lbs., more than 12 lbs. clear of the nextRead More
Mahers, Brower Win In Savage
June 12, 2010 by MT Cats Staff
Savage, MT 6/12/10 – The small town of Savage, Montana was again all the buzz this past weekend as the annual Catfish Tourney came roaring in. Much like in past years, the tournament filled its 60-team field a few weeks in advance. Local anglers were abound and out of area teams were sprinkled in amongst the crowd, as is the case on the 2nd weekend of every June. In what has turned out to be one of the finest communities events in the area, this years 7th Annual Savage Fire Department Catfish Tournament did not disappoint.
The rules stayed the same for 2010 in this all out “slot fish” extravaganza. Each team is only allowed to weigh-in fish between 12″ and 18″. These rare tournament rules provide an interesting twist and continually keeps the leader board very tight. On a typical year, the winning team hovers around 6 lbs. This year provided an unbelievable day of fishing for “slots”, as the top six teams all weighed in over 6.34 lbs. Much of the drama was saved for the top of the leader board, however, as local anglers, Chad Maher, Soda Maher, and Clay Brower took this years tournament championship with a limit of five cats weighing in at 7.410 lbs., the 2nd best weight in tournament history. Nipping at their heels, was the tournament veteran crew of Brenner Flaten, Tyler George, and Cade Flaten. Boasting the third best weight in tourney history, the crew weighed in at 7.345 lbs. The Mahers and Brower’s victory of 0.06 lbs. is by far the tightest the event has ever seen. Casey Hamburg took home the separate big fish pot with a muscular cat tipping the scales at 12.11 lbs.
The whole weekend was an overwhelming success. The Friday night calcutta was well attended once again ,as many of the locals came and bid on their favorite fishing teams and good times were had by all involved. Saturday got off on the right foot, as breakfast was cooked right in front of the fire hall in downtown Savage, as teams began to gather for a fun/competitive day on the water. Teams were released in two flights beginning at 7:00 a.m. following the rules meeting. The tournament took place until 3:30, when all of the teams conjugated on the river bottom to weigh in their respective catches. As weights were tallied and fish were returned safely to the water, the teams began to retreat to the Fire Hall once again. At this time, an incredible amount of door prizes were given away and the tournament and calcutta winners were announced to the crowd. A free will farm raised catfish feed concluded the festivities on Saturday Night. If you want a change of pace and enjoy fishing for the “little guys” make sure you mark your calendar for Saturday June 11th, 2011.Read More
Colorado Duo takes Lake Mac Title
May 01, 2010 by MT Cats Staff
Lewellen, NE 5/1/10 – The 13th Annual Lake McConaughy Catfish Classic took place over the weekend. The Classic once again proved to be a true test of catfishing ability. The tournament was headquartered out of the Oregon Trail Trading Post just outside Lewellen, Nebraska and began Friday night with a calcutta/social and free burgers and brats for all the competitors. This years version pitted 53 avid teams against each other. Tournament boundaries included the entire Lake McConaughy and The North Platte River west to the town of Oshkosh. A ten fish limit, ten hours of fishing time, and the option to fish from boat or shore provided the anglers with a lot of flexibility throughout the tournament.
Tournament conditions were average, with temps in the upper 50’s, but winds gusting up to 30 mph. Overall weights were down drastically from previous years, as only 28 teams would weigh-in fish and 25 teams would come up empty handed. When the smoke cleared, however, it was the tournament veteran combo of Matt Ryan and Mike Oshea, both of Denver, Colorado that would take home the top prize. Last years 3rd place team and Big Fish winners, the duo remained patient throughout the entire tournament to help them boat a total of nine catfish weighing in at 33.66 lbs. Mike had this to say on their victory, “We didn’t have a single fish before noon, but ended up fishing 20 to 25 spots, and landed 8 of our 9 fish in two hours when we found a honey hole”.
Coming up just short, finishing in 2nd place was the local team of Buck Johnson and Robert Stitt, weighing in their limit of 10 cats at 31.3 lbs. Buck and Robert are no strangers to tournament success on Lake Mac either, as they finished 4th place in 2009 as well. They landed a total of 16 catfish on the day, and Buck gave us some insight into their success, “It was a pretty tough day overall till we started looking for them after lunch. We had nothing at noon, but we starting catching some bigger fish when we fell into 14 to 18 foot of water.” Only three teams would make a return to the top ten this year, but that group included last years champions, Loyd Volgamore and Marnie Ryan, finishing in a very respectable 7th place with 24.1 lbs. Montana Cats Field Staff members, Brenner and Jason Flaten, both of Wyoming, made the trip to Lewellen for the fourth consecutive year, placing 17th with 13.3 lbs.
If your looking to get your catfish tournament season off on the right foot in future years. Consider making a trek to Western Nebraska. Darrell and the crew at The Oregon Trail Trading Post are a class act, and put on a tremendous event.
Enjoy the pictures and complete final results from this past weekends event!Read More
Montana Cats 2010 Outlook
March 03, 2010 by MT Cats Staff
3/3/10- March has finally arrived and we all know what that means. Yes, Montana Cats has awaken from its annual winter hibernation. Now that the string of cold months has passed, we only have one thing on our minds, CATFISHING!! Is this the year you set a new personal best? Maybe it’s your turn to win a Montana Cats tour event or break that magical 20 lb. mark? Most of us would just settle for a little more time enjoying the great outdoors.
2009 was another breakthrough year for the Montana Catfish Association. The debut of the Montana Cats Tournament Circuit (a four-tournament shootout) ,was a success on all levels, thanks to the continued work of the dedicated field staff and many other volunteers. The tournaments set records in participation across the board. Catfishing popularity continues to boom across the Midwestern United States and we are proud to play a role in that.
You can expect many changes in 2010. We are adding a 5th tournament to the already popular Montana Cats Tournament Circuit. There are three tournament opportunities in Montana and two in Northern Wyoming. The website will expand to include even more interviews, pictures, and videos from each tour event. It’s our goal to enhance your overall “online catfishing experience”. Keep your eyes peeled for even more in-depth front-page articles from our field staff, as well as raw and un-cut fishing footage throughout the entire open water season.
A couple of major changes will hit the tour in 2010. The Milk River Catfish Classic will expand to 80 teams for the first time, in what promises to be an unbelievable event. The 2nd Annual Monster Cat Roundup will raise its entry fee to $60 to provide anglers another opportunity to cash in on an even greater prize. See tournament entry forms for further details. The Glendo NightCat will join the tour, as the second Night-time tournament. The tournament season will kick off in Huntley, MT on May, 8th with the annual Yellowstone Challenge. We hope to see you all there. Below you will find the complete 2010 schedule. If you have any questions please join post them on the message board. Please click on the links below to access the tournament entry forms.Read More
Tournament Record Tumbles at 22nd Annual Cats Incredible
August 01, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
East Grand Forks, MN 8/1/09- Catfish anglers from 11 different states converged on East Grand Forks, MN this past weekend to compete for the 22nd annual Cats Incredible title. The Cats Incredible has proven to be one of the premier Catfish tournaments in the nation, due in large part to the world class Channel Catfish waters of the Red River and the lasting friendships that have been fostered over the previous 21 years of the event. This two day event has 150 boats on just over a 35 mile stretch of river that puts tremendous pressure on the fishery and leads to volatile catfish behavior and an unpredictable leader board.
Intermittent rain, high winds and post-spawn fish behavior presented numerous challenges over the two day event. As if catching these monster Channels in adverse conditions isn’t difficult enough, an additional test the tournament presents is the “no culling” rule. Any fish that enters the live well must stay confined due to state regulations. Two fish over 24 inches and three under the limit are allowed to be weighed in each day. This makes for some difficult decisions during the early tournament hours on whether or not to keep a marginal fish.
Solving the Cats incredible puzzle in record fashion were anglers Troy & Zach Srnsky. The Warren, MN duo smashed a nearly 10 year old tournament record by 7.5 lbs., catching a two day total of 91.5 lbs. The Srnsky’s also landed the tourneys largest Cat which tipped the scales at just over 22 lbs. They were rewarded handsomely for their record basket, taking home the top prize of $4000, $1000 for largest catfish and the $500 Lund Boat (top team fishing out of a lund boat) award for a grand total of $5500! Former champion Larry Barrow and his son Joel put together two outstanding days on the water to claim the 2nd place trophy. Their 43 lb. Day two total was good enough to vault them from 6th place after day one.
Anglers Paul Cariveau & Mervyn Rud of East Grand Forks, MN used their local knowledge and 78.32 lbs to propel them to a third place finish. Two time champions Pat and Travis Carter were on top of their game once again. As one of the most successful teams in tournament history, the Carters were in third place after day one and within striking distance of the top trophy. They were able put together another solid performance on day 2 and finished in fourth place. The “Mr. Consistency” award (a Montana Cats fake award) goes to Marv & Shane Feltman. The local anglers finished in 33rd place. They have finished in the top 35 seven times and the top 15 four times.
If you have a love for catfish tournaments, then this is the event for you. Those interested in participating in the 2010 Cats Incredible, be sure to stay posted with the Grand Forks Chamber. The tournament entries are due in February and the participant lottery takes place in March.
Please enjoy the complete results from this past weekend!Read More
Huge Blue leads to Cat Attack Championship
July 25, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
Sioux City, IA 7/25/09 – Montana Cats field staff members, Brenner and Jason Flaten competed in the 6th Annual First Class Cat Attack in Sioux City, Iowa this past Saturday. The tournament was stationed out of the main boat ramp on the Missouri River in Sioux City, but tournament fisherman were allowed to fish the Missouri and any of its tributary waters as long as they could be reached by boat. All three catfish species, the Blue, Flathead, or Channel were legal targets.
The Cat Attack has truly become one of the premier catfish tournaments in the entire nation, boasting some of the finest catfish anglers from seven different states. The anglers reigned from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wyoming, Missouri, Kansas, and South Dakota. It offers an impressive payout that can be hard to find when scouring the globe for great catfishing competition. The event is ran by successful catfish angler, Pat Carter, and is backed by his great sponsors, including their top-flight sponsor, the First Class Credit Union.
The tourney offered a guaranteed $5,000 payback in cash and prizes. When it exceeded 30 teams, every additional team added to the final payout. With a record 51 teams competing this year, and the First Class Credit Union generously pitching in a $1,000 Carter bounty, the total cash payout for this year’s event was an astounding $6,205.00!!
During the 2009 edition of the “Cat Attack”, there was no shortage of surprises either. No Blue Cats had been landed since the Inaugural event six years ago, while this year one big blue and another monster blue were hauled into the weigh-ins. More than twice as many Flatheads were caught this year than in any of the other previous five tournaments. Tournament limits, however, were hard to come by, as only two teams were able to land their limit of ten catfish.
When the dust finally settled, it was the duo of Dean Stroman and Bruce Stroman, both of Sioux City, Iowa taming their home waters and taking home the team title. It only took one fish, however, as they landed a beautiful 56.6 lb. Blue Cat during the early morning hours. It would ultimately hold up and they would be crowned the 2009 champions. The big bruiser would end up netting the anglers a total of $2,936.00!! Runner-up honors went to Keith Copenhaver of Sioux City and Chris Sharp of Merrill, Iowa with an impressive ten fish limit at 40.9 lbs. The duo showed their versatility in bringing in 6 Flatheads and 4 Channel Cats. Their biggest fish, the largest Flathead of the tourney, weighed in at 14.7 lbs.
A special thanks should go to Pat Carter for running this impressive event and to the First Class Credit Union for helping the tournament grow to all-time heights. Montana Cats field staff looks to return to Sioux City in future years.Read More
2nd Annual Bighorn Catfish Tournament
June 20, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
Lovell, WY 6/20/09 – Much like the rest of the Montana Cats Tour events, the 2nd Annual Bighorn Catfish Tournament experienced growth in all areas from the previous year. Friends of Bighorn Lake once again ran this tourney in conjunction with the Montana Catfish Association, and experienced a rise from 12 teams at last years inaugural event to 17 this year. All seventeen teams fished out of boats on a sunny 90-degree day, however, teams had to deal with numerous obstacles on the water. Not only was the heat scolding for the second straight year, but they also had to fight the rapidly rising water. Big Horn Lake had risen 12 feet in the four days previous, causing water to creep into shoreline trees for the first time in many years. The debris on the entire waterway was out of control.
Fishing was no doubt affected by the combination of the high temperatures and rapidly rising water. Only four teams were able to crack the 10 lb. barrier and only two teams were able to land their limit of six fish. Despite the tough conditions, fisherman turned out a valiant effort and brought in their share of channel cats. Montana Cats Field Staff members, Brenner Flaten and Tyler George, used a run and gun attack to land their limit of 6 cats that weighed in at 19.48 lbs. to take home the title. Brenner would also land the big fish of the tournament, weighing in at 6.2 lbs. Tyler had this to say on the victory, “With the help of a jet boat this year, we were able to cover lots of water and experiment with fishing new structure and it paid off.” The combination of a tourney title and the big fish netted the duo a cash prize of nearly $500. Powell, Wyoming anglers, Eric Menning and Zach Brando turned in an impressive limit of six catfish tipping the scales at 14.76 lbs. and good enough for a runner-up finish. Team Nagel out of Columbus, Montana rounded out the top three with five cats at 13.76 lbs.
Every catfish that was caught was once again weighed, measured, and tagged by Wyoming Fish and Game. We are proud to report that only one fish failed to make it out alive, proving once again that anglers are doing an excellent job on the water maintaining their catch. Extremely hot days like this one, makes it even more pressing for the anglers to make sure their fish have fresh, circulating, and cooler water. FOBHL will once again run next year’s event on the 3rd weekend of June 2010, and they expect to have even more teams participating. The 2009 Montana Cats Tour will come to a close in Sidney, Montana with the Inaugural Monster Cat Roundup on the Yellowstone River Saturday, July 11th.Read More
Colorado Teams Come Up Big at Lake Mac
May 02, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
Lewellen, NE 5/2/09 – The 12th Annual Lake McConaughy Catfish Classic is in the books! The popular weekend kicked off on Friday May, 1st with a Calcutta and social at the Oregon Trail Trading Post in Lewellen. The tournament was held on Saturday and can be a long and grueling one for some, as tournament hours run from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. It provides a little different twist as well as it allows for teams to either fish in Lake McConaughy or within the North Platte River.
54 teams hit the water under steady overcast skies, with highs hovering around 50 degrees the entire day. Despite the cold front, sixteen teams were able to catch their limit of ten cats and four teams would break the magical 50 pound mark. The state of Colorado dominated the event, sweeping the top 3. After all the dust settled, Loyd Volgamore and Marnie Ryan would take home this years championship. It has been a long time coming for Loyd, who has competed in every Lake Mac Catfish Classic since its inception twelve years ago. He has been knocking on the door for years, placing 3rd three times and 5th three times. When asked what the key to their tournament victory was, Loyd replied, “ We setup on the warmest water we could find in the reservoir, used shrimp and shad guts, and had our limit by 9:15.” The duo will now cash a check for $2,028.60!! The top three teams were all fishing in a similar area and caught the majority of their cats between 4 to 6 feet. All three Colorado teams would catch well over 20 cats on the day and spend a lot of their time culling out their livewells.
Mike O’Shea, of the third place team, caught the biggest catfish of the day. The big cat fell for some shad guts and weighed in at 9.4 lbs, it netted Mike a check for $450. Three top 10 teams from 2008 found themselves back in the top 10 this year, as the tournament continues to be a great event for both the local and out of area teams. Montana Cats Field Staff members Brenner and Jason Flaten, both of Wyoming, returned to the event for a 3rd consecutive year placing 12th with 39.22 lbs.
If you are looking for a great time make sure you mark down the first weekend of May on your calendars every year for the Lake Mac Catfish Classic in Lewellen, Nebraska. Darrell and the crew at The Trading Post do an outstanding job and put on a great event. Montana Cats will be returning for years to come. Congratulations to the entire top 10! Below you will find complete results and photos from this past weekends event.Read More
Selective Harvest – Why does it matter?
May 01, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
With the sport of catfishing becoming more and more popular throughout Montana, selective harvest becomes vital to sustaining the excellent fishing opportunities that surround us. What makes the sport of catfishing so attractive? Channel cats often produce an enjoyable fight, they’re usually pretty cooperative to bite, and you don’t need a tackle box full of expensive gear to catch them. More importantly, what other of Montana’s favorite fish: walleye, trout, or northern pike, can you consistently produce a ten pound or greater fish, which is truly a trophy channel cat on almost any body of water. Montana boasts at least a dozen different rivers or lakes that can regularly stake claim to cats of this proportion. However, with the popularity increasing, the importance of selective harvest looms large in the management of our fisheries. With proper fishing habits, we can sustain the excellent catfishing so many of us have come to enjoy.
Why is it important to choose selective harvest? Currently, Montana Fish and Game does little to absolutely no stocking of channel catfish. In the past, catfish have been ordered from Oklahoma. However, according to fish and game’s stocking report, no channel catfish have been stocked anywhere in Montana since 2005. At the present time, they are no longer able to transport them over state borders. Montana also has a very liberal limit of 20 catfish per day. Simply put, we are removing more catfish from our rivers and lakes than we are replacing. The catfish that currently inhabit our fisheries are all we have. We’re counting on these fish to continue to spawn and sustain our fisheries. The primary spawning catfish are typically the larger fish. A female catfish, on average, lays 3,000 eggs per pound of body weight. These large catfish aren’t growing overnight either. Montana catfish are a very slow growing fish. Some studies conducted on several of Montana’s rivers concluded that a 28 inch fish would be around 14 years old. If we choose to mismanage our fisheries, it’s going to take far longer to repair them than damage them.
What are some factors to consider when choosing selective harvest? First off, it’s important to gain an understanding of the catfish in the specific body of water you are fishing. Ask yourself a few questions when deciding what catfish to harvest or whether you harvest any at all. Is the catfish population high or low? If there is a high population of catfish, it may actually benefit the fishery to keep some fish. The predator to prey relationship in a body of water has a direct affect on how large fish grow. An over abundance of predators reduces the overall health of the population and stunts the growth of fish due to the lack of forage. What is the cutoff size of fish that should be released? Again, the larger fish are usually going to produce more offspring and better aid in maintaining a fishery. Also, these fish are typically superior in genetics. A person should make it a goal to release the fish above that cutoff size. Are the fish sustaining their population through spawning? For the most part, our rivers have suitable spawning habitat and the catfish are doing very well. However, oftentimes in ponds, catfish lack the proper habitat to spawn and simply reabsorb their eggs. A person should understand each body of water may be different and varying factors may come in to play, while taking into consideration these questions when selecting fish to harvest.
Lastly, make it easy on yourself to choose selective harvest. We all know how much everyone wants to bring home a stringer of fish to show off to our buddies. Instead, make it a point to take a camera along and photograph your fishing success. Montana Catfish Association encourages you to post your pictures on its website forum for all the viewers to see. In doing so, those fish you release will be there for the enjoyment of another angler to catch. Sustaining our fisheries through selective harvest is simple. Do your part to ensure we have the same great opportunity tomorrow that we currently have today. More importantly, lets work to make it better for future catfish anglers. Please support Montana Catfish Association in its goal of educating catfisherman on the importance of selective harvest in preserving our catfishing opportunities.Read More
Montana Cats 2009 Outlook
March 02, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
3/2/09- Wake up from your winter slumbers and enjoy the fresh air of spring. As we roll into March, we’ll start to see our days get a little longer, the grass and trees will begin to green, and our lakes and reservoirs across this great state will begin to open. Yes, its just about time to head out and wet your first line of the 2009 open water fishing season.
2008 was a great year for Montana Cats. Steps have been taken to improve the site and organization each year we’ve been in existence. We continued to see major growth in our online membership and message board activity. Montana’s catfish tournaments were literally bursting at the seams and it looks like 2009 could very well be the first year that every tournament sells out. Most importantly, the excitement level and popularity of catfishing in these parts seems to be growing at an all-time high.
2009 promises to be an exciting and innovative year for the Montana Catfish Association. We look forward to bringing you continued up to the date information on the sport of catfishing and Montana catfishing specifically. The MT Cats field staff will continue to take great pride in improving the knowledge and helping boost overall awareness of Catfish within the upper-Midwestern United States. The sport of competitive catfishing is still in its infancy, and with tournaments growing at an all-time high, it’s exciting to do our part in promoting the sport. Many organizational changes are on the horizon. We are working diligently to improve your online experience within montanacats.com. Look for videos, podcasts, and premium Field Staff articles to be featured on a more regular basis. Our biggest news, however, is the debut of the Montana Catfish Association Tournament Circuit.
The Circuit will include four tournaments and will be scored on a point system. You will not be required to fish all of the tournaments to win the Circuit title, but it will enhance your chances. Information in regards to the point scoring for the Montana Catfish Tournament circuit will be updated in the near future. Field Staff members Tyler George will take over the reigns on the Yellowstone Challenge this May and Steve Harris will kick off the Inaugural Big Cat Roundup in Sidney. A special thanks to the Friends of Bighorn Lake, for running a high quality event that will now be a part of our Circuit as well. The grand daddy of all Montana fishing tournaments, the 10th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic, once again promises to be an outstanding event.Read More
Local Anglers Win Inaugural Bighorn Catfish Tournament
July 12, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
Lovell, WY 7/12/08 – The Inaugural Bighorn Catfish Tournament kicked off near Lovell, Wyoming last Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. as twelve teams set out to claim the top prize. Nine teams competed out of boats, and three decided to brave the elements from shore.
It was a beautiful day in northern Wyoming as temperatures would peek in the mid-nineties and there was very little wind making it very hard for the fisherman to stay aggressive and find the active fish. Fishing proved to be very difficult throughout the entire day as only three teams were able to bring in their limit of six catfish. This tournament provided difficulty to the competitive angler, because it is held during spawn period rather than pre-spawn like the rest of the regional catfish tourneys. Catfish are generally not as active during this time, and it showed on this afternoon. Local Veteran Bighorn River Anglers; Oren Jones and Craig Winterholler, both of Lovell, Wyoming were able to run away with the tournament crown, by catching their limit of six cats at just over twenty five pounds. Congratulations to Oren and Craig! Only two other teams were able to reach the teen mark, 2nd Place team of Jim Bowman and Jeff Minchow, and the 3rd place Montana Cats duo of Brenner Flaten and Tyler George. Jeff Minchow would also cash the check for the biggest catfish of the tournament, a piggie, tipping the scales at 9.26 pounds.
Every catfish at the event was weighed, measured, and tagged by the Wyoming Fish and Game. We are happy to report there was once again a zero percent mortality rate. The entire tournament field deserves some recognition for that. The Friends of Bighorn Lake did a tremendous job at getting this event off the ground. The opening rules meeting and the weigh-ins were run very well and this tournament will undoubtedly see massive growth into the future. A special thanks goes out to Joe Anderson at the Horseshoe Bend Motel from the Montana Cats field staff. Thank you for your generosity and we look forward to working with you and the rest of FOBHL for many years to come. There is a distinct possibility that this event will join three others alike in Montana next fishing season, to form the first ever Montana Catfish Association tournament circuit! Please enjoy the final results and the pictures from this weekends event below.Read More
5th Annual Savage Fire Department
June 09, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
6/9/2008- The 5th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Department Catfish Tournament scheduled for the second weekend in June filled the 60 team limit a week early this year. Unlike many fishing tournaments that highlight targeting the biggest fish, this one has an additional challenge. Each 3-man-team may only weigh fish between 12-18 inches. This slot limit is an additional hurdle to cross, often times requiring anglers to change their traditional fishing techniques or locations. The tournament weekend kicked off with the Friday night Calcutta/social. This is a time when fishermen can bid on tournament teams while enjoying conversation, fresh grilled burgers, or cold refreshments.
Following the Calcutta, tournament action began at 7 AM Saturday and weigh-ins conclude at 3:30. One team stood out above the rest when it came time to weigh the days catch. Matt Reynolds, Lance Kuylen and Troy Cotter braved the high waters, mosquitoes, and swarms of gnats with an impressive 5.98 lb stringer. Keith Nelson, Duane Smith and Lee Moore came in a close second place finishing only .15 lbs behind the leaders. Tourney vet Kevin Bentz led his team of Augie Bentz and Dave McKinney to a third place finish. Field staff members Brady Flaten, Brenner Flaten, and Tyler George earned a respectable 4th place finish with 5.515 lbs.
Pat Reynolds and the Savage Volunteer Fire Department continue to put on an exceptional catfish tournament. Montana Catfish Association commends Miller and the S.V.F.D for expressing concern for conservation in addition to organizing such a great catfish event. Another thanks goes out to the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks for aiding in measuring and weighing our catches. Final results are listed below. Team interviews and picture links will be up soon so keep checking back for continued coverage of this great event.Read More
Tournament Catfishing…..in the snow?
May 05, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
Lewellen, NE 5/3/08 – Montana Cats field staff members, Brenner and Jason Flaten, recently competed in the 11th Annual Lake McConaughy Catfish Classic held in Western Nebraska. The tournament is quickly turning into a huge event and it is growing on a yearly basis. The event includes a Calcutta and social on Friday night, as well as the tournament on Saturday.
This years tournament, however, provided a challenge to the anglers unlike any other year, with temperatures dipping into the 30’s in the two days leading up to the tourney. A massive snow storm fell in the Lewellen area on Friday, leaving nearly 6-8 inches on the ground, and dropping water temperatures in the river to the mid 30’s. This didn’t seem to scare away the avid catfish anglers though, as a record 55 teams entered in the 10-hour one-day cattin’ tourney. As you would expect, the catfish were a bit tight-lipped throughout the entire tournament, as only 12 of the 55 teams were able to land fish. No team was able to catch their limit of ten catfish, and the 1st place squad was only able to boat seven cats. The Championship team, Tater and Buck Johnson, were able to find the right combination and topped the leader board with 20.46 lbs. Tater and Buck fished Lake McConaughy, as did the other eleven teams that were able to land fish. No team fishing the North Platte River even caught a catfish.
Brenner had this to say on the tournament, “We knew we were in trouble when we showed up to our main spot in the morning and we couldn’t fish effectively because there was too much ICE floating down the river, that’s not a situation we typically prepare for.” “We were spending a lot of time just trying to keep our baits positioned, because the ice was just catching our lines. The water temp was 34 degrees, which doesn’t exactly trigger feeding. We threw everything at them and we just couldn’t get them to bite.”
The guys at the Oregon Trail Trading Post in Lewellen, NE do a tremendous job with this event and you can expect even more growth into the future. Montana Cats has already penciled in the tournament for 2009. Congratulations to all of the top ten and good luck for the rest of your catfishing season!Read More
Montana Cats, Crazy in Nebraska
April 05, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
Imperial, NE 4/5/08 – The Montana Cats field staff put together a team this past weekend for a tournament in South-Western Nebraska. The 1st Annual Izaak Walton League Catfish Tournament on Enders Reservoir, located near Imperial, was a great success and the team of Brenner and Jason Flaten, both of Wright Wyoming, came away with the top prize.
Fourteen teams would set out on beautiful 1,700 acre Enders Reservoir at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning. The team of Flaten/Flaten used a variety of baits throughout tournament hours, while fishing numerous spots, helping them land nine catfish on the day. The action, by no means, was non-stop, as the team was boating about one fish every hour, however, their 5 fish-limit weight of 22 lbs. 15 oz. outdistanced the competition by just under 4 lbs. When asked about their keys to a successful day on the water, Brenner Flaten said, “The River Pro was essential for us at this tournament, some of the water we wanted to fish was real shallow, and without the aid of a jet boat it would not have been possible to get back there. I also think having a variety of fresh baits always helps in tournaments.” The duo had their limit at noon, and spent the last three hours trying to improve their stringer. Six teams would catch their limit of five catfish on this beautiful sunny 65 degree day. The second place team boated a five fish limit of 19 pounds.
The tournament paid out the top three teams in the tournament, the calcutta, as well as the big fish pot. The Flaten’s came away with just over $1,000 for their efforts, as they also took home the big fish pot and calcutta. The Izaak Walton league will now use the money derived from this inaugural event to put on two kids fishing days during the summer. These kids fishing days have been very successful on Enders in the past, and the money will help provide free tackle, apparel, and bait to all youth involved. It’s nice to see the proceeds from this event going to such a great cause! The event is sure to experience growth into the future and the field staff members will most likely return for many years to come.Read More
20th Annual Cats Incredible
September 12, 2007 by MT Cats Staff
East Grand Forks, MN 9/12/07- Two teams from Montana recently competed in the prestigious Cats Incredible tournament held on the Red River along the border of Minnesota/North Dakota. The teams of Brady Flaten/Jason Molstad and Jerry Molstad/Nate Molstad, looking to prepare themselves for the tough competition and conditions, traveled over on Tuesday evening with a mission in mind. They spent three full days pre-fishing and mapping out a plan. Pre-tournament fishing yielded mixed results for the two squads. Brady and Jason felt they had the fish on a pattern. Their Wednesday through Friday total resulted in 6 fish over 10 lbs., 2 over 19, and 1 over 21. Nate and Jerry ,however, were experiencing some difficulties on the water and fishing was unbearably slow.
The tides soon turned as the first day of the tournament approached. 150 boats were just about to invade a 35 mile stretch of river. The anticipation was high for all the tournament anglers involved. The opportunity to take home the first place prize of $4,000 was at stake. It was time to “get it on”!
Day one was a bag of mixed results. Fishing was down from the start (as compared to previous years) and the weights were not overwhelming. Nate and Jerry’s first day, however, total was just that….impressive! Their 36 lb. limit of 5 cats was good enough for a 4th place day one standing (150 teams). Brady and Jason were drained after a grueling day on the water; which yielded only three slot fish for a total weight of 11 lbs. They stood in the middle of the pack after day 1.
Day two would prove pivotal in determining which team would be walking away with the grand prize, as well as those that were determined to move up the leader board. Jerry and Nate knew they would have to put together another impressive day to stay in the big money and Brady and Jason knew it would take a Herculean effort to sneak into the top 35. When it was all said and done, the two Montana teams were not able to put together the second day result they were desperately hoping for. For the second straight day, Brady and Jason would boat their three slot fish early, only to miss out on the cats that could make the difference. Jerry and Nate boated two slots during the second day pushing their total to 39.52 lbs. good enough for 41st place, finishing just outside the money.Read More
High, Muddy Water Highlights Savage Tourney
June 09, 2007 by MT Cats Staff
Savage 6/9/07- The 4th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Dept. Catfish Tournament took center stage in Eastern-Montana on June 9th, 2007. Like many of the other catfish tourneys in the region, the event again had an all-time high in teams and filled the capacity 50-team field a week in advance. What teams didn’t expect, was the massive rain-fall leading up to the event and the sudden change in the water conditions. This created an all new challenge for all 150 participants in the event. The weekend kicked off with the popular Friday night Calcutta held at the fire hall in downtown Savage. The Calcutta provided a great atmosphere that allowed teams to gather around and tell fishing stories and talk tactics, all the while enjoying a fresh burger or hot dog right off the grill! This years Calcutta pot did not disappoint and continues to grow ever year, it managed to grow to just over $10,000 this year.
It was a beautiful sunny day for this years tourney, providing the first day of sun for the area in nearly five days. The team captained by Chuck Reynolds was able to find the winning combination and win the tournament title! The team stuck with one spot throughout the day and was able to milk 7.175 lbs., a truly impressive stringer of 12-18 inch catfish. The team of Bill Jones, Phil Hageman, and Kent O’Donnell used a different approach to claim their second straight runner-up finish in the event. Putting a run-and-gun approach into play, the three-man team hit multiple spots throughout the day. Bill Jones added. “We would pull up on a spot, and pull one or two fish out, than the action would slow, and it would be time to move on.” The approach seems to be working well, because back to back top 2 finishes is very impressive. The Big Fish Award winner was Chad Maher, who landed a 7.425 lb. hawg, good enough for a $200 check. Overall, the number of teams bringing in their limit was down, however, the tournament was still very much a success.
Jim Miller and the Volunteer Savage Fire Dept. continue to put on a tremendous event that continues to grow on a yearly basis. The Montana Catfish Association truly appreciates people like Jim that help provide more opportunities for the catfish angler in the state of Montana. Jim had this to say, “Next year we are looking at some potential growth, I would like to see the boundaries be lengthened and the number of teams increased.” Take a look at the final results from the weekend as well as pictures from the entire event.Read More
Field Staff Compete in Nebraska Tourney
May 05, 2007 by MT Cats Staff
Nebraska 5/5/07– Brenner & Jason Flaten recently competed in the 10th annual Lake McConaughy Catfish Classic held in Western Nebraska. The tournament field was made up of 53 teams comprised of mainly Colorado and local Nebraska anglers. This was a boat or shore event and was limited to the ten heaviest catfish. The Montana based team made the trek to Nebraska on Wednesday so they could get in a few days of preparation for the event. The pre-fishing days were spent mapping out a plan and putting the fish on a pattern. The days leading up to the tournament and the day of the tourney, were mainly rain-soaked and overcast.
With a plan intact, we began Saturday morning with a ton of anticipation. However, it did not take long to realize that the fish were in a little different mood that day compared to the pre-fishing we had done. Action was slow throughout the majority of the tournament hours. We were bringing in a catfish about once an hour, and anybody that knows anything about tournament fishing knows that isn’t very good! We knew fishing was slow when we were putting our baits in the very same places we had been a week ago and nothing seemed to be working. Those same places were yielding fish after fish of over six pounds just a week earlier. We put ourselves in a difficult situation and we felt confident that our plan would work, when it backfired, there really wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it. We had set up a pick up point with a local resident a day earlier, and that pickup point was at least five miles down river from where we had started the day. When we arrived at the pickup point there was only one hour remaining in the tournament. We were sitting on a limit of catfish at the time, but not anymore than 30 pounds. We had caught 16 catfish in the nine hour period we had been walking that stretch. We knew it would take a lot more than that just to crack the top ten.
So we got dropped off at the place we started in the morning and plan B jumped into motion. While pre-fishing the previous day, we had located a spot on a different section of the river that was very productive and we felt that we could milk a couple out before the time ran out on us. A few wash-board gravel roads and a 1/4 tank of gas later we had arrived at plan B. With only twenty five minutes left to do our fishing it proved to be a smart move. In the twenty five minutes we landed five cats , four of them would be included in our 10 fish limit at the end of the day. Three of the fish were well over five pounds and we managed to catch them all within 15 minutes of each other. Arriving at the weigh-in station, without a minute to spare, we were feeling a little bit of relief. We knew we didn’t reach our goal , but glad we stayed after it when things were not going as planned. Our ten fish limit ended up being a respectable 48.14 lbs., good enough for 8th place overall.Read More
19th Annual Cats Incredible
September 10, 2006 by MT Cats Staff
East Grand Forks, MN 9/10/06 – Anticipation surrounded the 2006 Cats Incredible tournament as Montana Cats made a return trip to the annual event held on the mighty Red River of the North. Nate Molstad and Brady Flaten competed on behalf of Montana Cats for the 06′ version of the tournament. The competition was stiff, as many of the 150 teams were comprised of the top Catfish anglers in the region. The weather was tricky. It’s been a very dry summer, which in recent weeks, led to a very tough bite due to the low water conditions.
Two days prior to the tournament, however, monsoon like rains pumped new life into the Red River Valley. Stable weather was not in the cards, which at times can lead to a very intriguing bite. Jason & Brady Flaten finished in 33rd place the previous year, so this year was sure to be an improvement…..right? Not so fast my friend. Pre-fishing was mainly used to scout new areas and get a “feel” for the river. We entered the tournament with a plan and we were sticking to it. After day 1, however, we struggled to meet the 5 fish limit; ending up with 3 fish, missing out on two slot fish.Read More