Glasgow, MT 6/3/23 - Just when you think you've seen it all, the Cat Classic will surprise you with conditions one might deem "impossible". After two consecutive years with unseasonably low water; we had nearly record river flows to contend with. At least minor flooding was occuring throughout the tournament boundaries as the main channel and its tributary creeks swelled with the onslaught of early summer rainfall. The Tampico section in particular, saw rapid overnight rise, going from 2,000 to 5,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) from midnight on Friday to midnight on Saturday. The previous record flow for tampico was just 2,800 CFS in 2010 and 2012. Every section, downstream of Beaver Creek, was dramatically affected during tournament hours. A weather front rolling in on Friday night would also bump the pre-tournament festivities, including the Calcutta, from their traditional outdoor location on Front Street to indoors at the Glasgow Elks Lodge.
Despite these difficult weather conditions in the days leading up to the event and the volatile river conditions, tournament anglers were still positive, upbeat, and ready to compete! 80 teams signed up for the event and 77 of those teams actually braved the extreme-conditions on tournament night. The high waters and rapid rise undoubtedly affected the bite on Saturday night, however, as only 46 teams were able to bring fish to the scale at the "Famous Midnight Weigh-Ins" in downtown Glasgow. In total, those 46 teams weighed in 162 fish at an average of 3.06 lbs. per Channel Cat. The BIG fish proved even tougher for the large group of seasoned catfish anglers; as only 4 fish would ultimately break the 7.0 lb. barrier. The Jumbo Whiskers Award went to Austin Bement of Sidney, MT. with an 8.03 lb. kitty. That marks the smallest Jumbo Whisker Award winning fish in this event since 2004. It is still an outstanding fish, by any measure, but it certainly indicates the difficulty of chasing big fish in these conditions. The Big Whiskers Award for the 2nd biggest Cat of the evening went to local angler, Marc Kloker, as he beached a 7.73 pounder at 9:10 PM.
The winning weight was also down considerably as 24.72 lbs. would take the coveted crown; marking the lowest tournament winning weight in 14 years. (In 2009; the Classic was held in Winter-like conditions and highs of just 40 degrees with a constant drizzle as 22.7 lbs. would take the title that year). Without further ado, who was able to put the best night together and become this year's CHAMPS? None other than Jason Flaten of Elko, NV., and Cole Plouffe of Glendive, MT. The Glasgow natives are no strangers to Cat Classic success as they had most recently teamed up for the Championship in 2018. Jason remarked that some late fortune in this year's tournament was the key along with their ability to stay patient. They landed 12 cats on the evening and their 5 largest, proved just enough; as they would win the title by just .31 lbs. It's the 4th career Cat Classic title for Flaten and a 3rd for Plouffe. Both gentlemen, have now won 7 individual Championships on the Montana Cats Circuit.
Coming in Runner-Up, in extremely close fashion, were Glasgow anglers Ricci Olson and Dylan Guttenberg as they were able to produce 24.41 lbs. Ricci shared some insight into their evening during his on-stage interview. "We didn't have a fish at 9:30, not even a bite. We abandoned the boat, moved locations, and immediately started catching fish. That's exactly what happened". Wow. What an impressive mid-tournament rebound! Congratulations guys on a job well done. Ricci had enjoyed two prior top 10 finishes in the Classic, but this is his first time venturing into the top 3.
Coming in 3rd place was another local duo, a father-son combo from Glasgow, Luke and Jack Morehouse. Luke is a familiar face to all those associated with the Cat Classic, as he actually helped co-found the event. After taking the previous 4 years off, he returned this season with his son and picked right up where he had left off. The two of them had an outstanding night of fishing and brought the only other 20+ lb. basket to the scale. 21.83 lbs. was their closing weight and it proved more than enough to earn them a pair of plaques for the wall. The 3rd place finish is Luke's first top 3 finish since winning the Cat Classic in 2011.
Of special note, a record 31 teams elected to fish out of a boat, while 46 attempted to fish what was remaining of the shoreline. Teams were spread throughout tournament boundaries. 17 teams in the Hinsdale section, 19 in Tampico, 29 in Glasgow, and 23 in Nashua.
We would like to thank the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and the community of Glasgow for another outstanding Milk River Catfish Days! We approached the Chamber in 2019 about combining efforts and we set our goal on making the event bigger, better, and more family friendly. After five years, it is safe to say that it has not disappointed! We also could not make this all happen without our valued sponsors. The Milk River Catfish Classic, on behalf of the Montana Catfish Association, would like to thank each and every supporter and we look forward to working with each sponsor in the coming years. Please mark your calendars for the 6th Annual Milk River Catfish Days coming to Glasgow on May 31-June 1, 2024. The headliner for the event will of course be the 25th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic. It will be a historic event as it will be our Silver Jubilee! We expect our strongest field of anglers in the history of the event next year.
The 2023 Montana Cats Circuit will now shift gears to next month's 15th Annual Monster Cat Roundup. The event is the 3rd leg on tour and it will be headquartered out of Sidney on the Yellowstone River on Saturday July 15th. Tournament organizers are fully expecting to fill the boat-only event that is capped at 60 teams. In the meantime, enjoy the complete final results from this past weekend's 24th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic below.
24th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic Final Results
Posted in: Milk River Catfish Classic