5/11/19 Huntley, MT- Catfish enthusiasts packed into CowBoys Bar & Casino for the annual kick-off tourney on the Montana Cats tour this past Friday evening. Through the duration of the Calcutta/social, the crowd experienced overcast and rainy conditions. This threatened to play out a familiar scene on most historical Yellowstone Challenge tourney weekends. Competition day, however, was an entirely different story. Seventy degree temps, light winds and moderate river flows were a welcome change over the course of this year’s affair. The 2018 Yellowstone Challenge boasted RECORD flows of over 40,000 CFS. The 2019 version punched the meter at just over 10,000 CFS. That is in large part why this event is such a CHALLENGING competition. Unpredictable spring weather and flows consistently throw a wrench in even the most seasoned catfish veteran’s plans.
Volatile conditions didn’t stop over 100 of the most seasoned cat anglers in the region from competing and laying it on the line. 79% of the teams weighed fish, and 17 of those teams averaged over 5lbs per fish. The Sidney team Troy Cotter and Jimmy Bingley broke in the top 10 at just over 21 lbs. Local husband/wife and tourney veterans Bobbie and Scott Swanson finished in 9th place, making that their top finish as team members. Chad Rolison and Jeremiah Johnson out of Laurel improved on last year’s top 20 finish, landing in 8th. Team 406 Fishin’, Duane Meiers and Abraham Hawkins out of Billings boasted another impressive finish on this stretch of river, landing in 7th place with just over 23 pounds. The father/son combo and past Big Fish winners Chad and Kyle Mueller out of Sidney once again impressed, finishing in 6th.
The top 5 started with tourney veterans Blake and Lindsey Gauer turning in another impressive performance with 23.88 lbs. Milk River rats Chris Kolstad and Wily Lauckner improved on last year’s 11th place finish, ending in 4th with over 25 lbs. Chris and Wily finished in 3rd place in last year’s AOY standings and are looking to move up the leaderboard this year. 2018 Yellowstone Challenge Champions Jason Flaten and brother Brenner turned in another solid performance. That marks 3 years in a row for this duo has finished in the top three. Brenner described the challenges posed in this year’s tourney, “today was a little crazy because it was a lot lower than the last couple years. A lot of the stuff we worked the last couple years, we couldn’t even get to this year. That created a little bit of a challenge. We still caught 23-24 cats today. It was an overall good day. We caught all 4 of our basket fish in 4 different spots”. Tourney vet Kent Hagen picked a great time to break through. Hagen has fished this event nearly every year since its inception and locked up his first top ten finish. Hagen and his partner Colter Pearson finished with a 28.67 basket, good enough for 2nd place.
A 31.51 lb. basket of fish brought in by father/son combo of Robert and Bobby Wise proved to be the largest of the day. This championship was the duo’s second Yellowstone Challenge crown and 4th circuit title overall. The 2015 Co-Anglers of the year had to change things up this year a bit though. “We got out of our comfort zone I guess. We’ve never fished that stretch during the tournament. I think it made us look for different stuff. You need to look for different stuff that other people aren’t fishing. Explained Bobby.” Robert revealed the extreme attention to detail that great teams have on breaking down water during his post tournament interview…..“We only caught 5 little fish, in 10 miles of river pre-fishing yesterday. We caught 17 fish today and threw back 5 that were 7 lbs. or more looking for a bigger one. It was a good day.” A great day it was for this legendary team.
The Yellowstone Challenge and Montana Cats would like to thank the following sponsors for helping make this tournament possible: Cowboys, Riverside Marine & Cycle, Cat River Anchors, Briggs Distributing, Whisker Seeker Tackle, B’N’M’ Poles, RS Jet Boat Anchors, Shelly George with Thriven Financial Services.
The Montana Catfish Association is a NON-PROFIT organization that runs this tournament and others around the state to help promote Channel Catfish in Montana and local communities. All of our tournaments are OVER 100% payback. That means 100% CASH payback from entries and thousands of dollars in additional prizes. We’re in it for the fishermen, local communities and Channel Catfish. If you check out the tournament rosters, you’ll notice a distinct “family” feel to it. We love the friendly competition and comradery these events provide. Lifelong friendships have and will continue to develop as a result. Thank you SO much to everyone that participates in our events to make us one of THE most successful Catfish circuits in the NATION!
If you haven’t checked us out online, please take the opportunity to do so @ montanacats.com. Stay connected to us on social media outlets Facebook, twitter and our message board. Also, please sign up for our email list to stay better informed on ALL the happenings with Montana Cats year round.
Two of our Montana Cats events; the Missouri River Catfish Clash in Williston, ND and Monster Cat Roundup in Sidney still have openings. Take this opportunity to sign up now before it’s too late. See everyone in Glasgow for the second leg of the Montana Catfish Association tour at the Milk River Catfish Classic on June 1st.
13th Annual Yellowstone Challenge Catfish Tournament
Huntley, MT 5/11/19
1 Bobby Wise (Billings, MT) / Robert Wise (Billings, MT) 31.51
2 Kent Hagen (Billings, MT) / Colter Pearson (Billings, MT) 28.67
3 Brenner Flaten (Glasgow, MT) / Jason Flaten (West Wendover, NV) 26.66
4 Chris Kolstad (Glasgow, MT) / Willy Lauckner (Nashua, MT) 25.88
5 Blake Gauer (Park City, MT) / Lindsey Gauer (Park City, MT) 23.88
6 Chad Mueller (Sidney, MT) / Kyle Mueller (Sidney, MT) 23.73
7 Duane Meiers (Billings, MT) / Abraham Hawkins (Billings, MT) 23.27
8 Chad Rolison (Laurel, MT) / Jeremiah Johnson (Laurel, MT) 22.43
9 Bobbie Swanson (Billings, MT) / Scott Swanson (Billings, MT) 21.84
10 Troy Cotter (Sidney, MT) / Jimmy Bingley (Sidney, MT) 21.43
11 Andrew Parent (Worden, MT) / Pat Whitmer (Billings, MT) 21.39
12 Cole Plouffe (Glendive, MT) / Chad Dawson (Dickinson, ND) 21.26
13 Paxton Lambrecht (Billings, MT) / Ray Lambrecht (Billings, MT) 21.20
14 Jordan Hoagland (Billings, MT) / Eric Wolff (Billings, MT) 21.01
15 Christopher Stockton (Billings, MT) / Eric Spooner (Billings, MT) 20.87
16 Cody Veal (Story, MT) / Darin Gagliano (Banner, WY 20.11
17 Paul Luepke (Columbus, MT) / Brian Luepke (Columbus, MT) 20.11
18 Matthew Bushman (Billings, MT) / Zac Bushman (Billings, MT) 19.69
19 Todd Lindsay (Billings, MT) / Kellie Lindsay (Billings, MT) 19.09
20 Shawn Weber (Billings, MT) / Kurt Weber (Billings, MT) 18.52
21 Jeremy Johnson (Worden, MT) / Doug Enderson (Billings, MT) 18.29
22 Rod Seder (Billings, MT) / Rob Seder (Hardin, MT) 17.62
23 Jayson Riggin (Billings, MT) / Robert Petersen (Billings, MT) 17.57
24 Bryon Armour (Lewistown, MT) / Ty Thomas (Lewistown, MT 17.52
25 Steve Lowrey (Fairview, MT) / James Decker (Sidney, MT) 17.21
26 Dan Achten (Laurel, MT) / Amber Achten (Laurel, MT) 16.91
27 Brady Mueller (Sidney, MT) / Tom Kobza (Sidney, MT) 16.48
28 Charles Ferguson (Big Timber, MT) / Brodie McDonald (Laurel, MT) 15.34
29 Steve Harris Jr. (Sidney, MT) / Steve Harris (Sidney, MT) 15.28
30 Chandler Faulk (Shepherd, MT) / Garrett Hauge (Shepherd, MT) 15.28
31 Austin Oblander (Billings, MT) / Otis Oblander (Ballantine, MT) 14.73
32 Kevin Zimmerman (Billings, MT) / Ken Ard (Billings, MT) 11.78
33 Todd Dooley (Sidney, MT) / Becky Lange (Sidney, MT) 11.20
34 Rich Theis (Billings, MT) / Mike Shelton (Billings, MT) 11.03
35 Josh Marottek (Med Lake, MT) / Charles Marottek (Poplar, MT) 10.83
36 Corey Bushman (Billings, MT) / Cody Evans (Billings, MT) 9.92
37 Paul Parra (Laurel, MT) / Rence Parra (Laurel, MT) 9.86
38 Derek Weber (Billings, MT) / Clarence Weber (Billings, MT) 9.81
39 Blayze Mikkelson (Shepherd, MT) / Dustin Neely (Shepherd, MT) 8.15
40 Dan LaPierre (Billings, MT) / Josh Dannenberg (Billings, MT) 7.01
41 Brett Litle (Billings, MT) / Scott Adamson (Billings, MT) 0
42 Alexander Kochman (Park City, MT) / Michael Erdmann (Billings, MT) 0
43 Greg Lapp (Laurel, MT) / Dugie Denton (Joliet, MT) 0
44 Doyle Hodgson (Sheridan, WY) / Lance Hodgson (Sheridan, WY) 0
45 Jon Stoller (Shepard, MT) / Justin Hauge (Shepard, MT) 0
46 Mark Weber (Billings, MT) / Jay Swecker (Billings, MT) 0
47 Dan Dupea (Billings, MT) / Eli Dupea (Billings, MT) 0
48 James Bergeron (Sidney, MT) / Shane Litten (Sidney, MT) 0
49 Gary Cantrell (Billings, MT) / Spencer Cantrell (Billings, MT) 0
50 Alyssa Vandersloot (Laurel, MT) / Perry Vandersloot (Laurel, MT) 0
51 Jesse Sanchez (Billings, MT) / Antonio Sanchez (Edgar, MT) 0
BIG FISH- Pat Whitmer (Billings, MT) 11.24 lbs
Posted in: Yellowstone Challenge