8/19/2023 (Williston, ND) – This year's Missouri River Catfish Clash proved to be the most difficult fishing in the 13 years of the event. 41 boats competed in the tournament and only nine teams would break the 20 lb. barrier. Nothing less than 30+ pounds had ever taken the tournament championship at the "Clash", until this year! Joshua Pruitt, Bismarck, ND., and Caleb Wells, Williston, ND. would ultimately grind out the victory. They become only the second team to ever win a Montana Cats event while bringing four fish into a five fish weigh-in. Their 4-fish basket tipped the scales at 25.12 lbs.; narrowly defeating last year's Champion, Eric Braunberger, Miles City, MT., and his partner Aaron Roble, also of Miles City. The Miles City duo weighed in 25.03 lbs. on five fish.
Pruitt and Wells have long established themselves as one of the most consistent teams in tournament history and this was the year that they would finally achieve the ultimate goal and take home the top prize! This is their 6th Top 10 finish in the last 8 years. Previously, the teammates had finished 2nd place in both 2016 and 2020, 3rd place in 2017, and 4th place is 2021. It is a historic victory on circuit, as they become the first North Dakota team to win the Williston-based event. Congratulations gentleman on a job well done.
3rd place went to another consistent local squad; Kirby Lynch, Williston, ND., and Nolan Lynch, Williston, ND. The father-son combo made it a great finish on their home waters, finishing with 24.82 lbs. Just 3 tenths off a tournament title. Kirby had previously nabbed a 6th place in 2018 and 11th place in 2016. Scott Schmidt and Chad Dunwald, both of Sidney, MT. came in a respectable 4th place overall with 24.29 lbs. Brenner Flaten, Glasgow, MT., and Cole Plouffe, Glendive, MT. rounded out the Top 5 with 23.11 lbs. It marks the 8th consecutive year in the Top 5 for the two Montana boys and an 11th time overall in 13 years.
Often times the Montana Cats Angler of the Year Race comes down to the final event of the season and this year was no different. Front runner, Jason Flaten, Elko NV., had already did the heavy lifting by winning both the Yellowstone Challenge in Huntley and the Milk River Catfish Classic in Glasgow. He topped it off with a 6th place finish at the Monster Cat Roundup in Sidney for a total of 70 points. He was able to rest for the last event and hope that his early season performances would hold up. Coming into the Clash; only Eric Braunberger and Brenner Flaten, were still mathematically alive to earn a piece of the AOY pie. With Flaten's 5th place finish at the Clash; he would ultimately finish with 66 points and slot himself into 3rd place overall in the end of the year standings. Eric, however, would save another great performance for Williston and used a runner-up finish to add 24 cruicial points to his 2nd place in Huntley and 4th place in Sidney for a total of 70 points. That would earn him a tie with Jason Flaten for this year's Montana Cats B'n'M Angler of the Year! It is a second consecutive shared AOY for Braunberger; after finishing in a 3-way tie for the honor in 2022.
That puts a bow on the 2023 season. We are already looking forward to the 2024 season on the Montana Cats Circuit. Next year's schedule will be highlighted by the 25th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic in Glasgow. The "Silver Jubilee" event will be a monumental achievement for competitive catfish angling in the State of Montana.
13th Annual Missouri River Catfish Clash Final Results
Posted in: Missouri River Catfish Clash