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Falling Water? No Match for Fortier/Franco

Falling Water? No Match for Fortier/Franco

May 17, 2016 by

5/14/16-Huntley, MT— Montana Catfish anglers were brimming with anticipation as the second weekend of May was rapidly approaching.  The 10th Annual Yellowstone Challenge, kicking off the Montana Cats tour annually, was just the event to quench that thirst.  The weekend started off with an action packed night at Pryor Creek Bar on Friday night, highlighted by the evenings Calcutta/social and ended on Saturday night with crowning a rapidly rising catfish duo that is sure to continue making waves in the future.

Teams worked feverishly for weeks leading up to the event to “pattern” the numerous giant hogs in the Yellowstone, however, mother nature once again threw the competitors for an all too familiar loop. The week leading up to the event saw rapidly changing river conditions.  The untamed Yellowstone went from a manageable 10,000 CFS, to a raging 18,000 CFS in just over three days’ mid-tournament week and then returning back down to 11,000 CFS level on tourney day.  Falling water conditions and frigid water temps put a tight lip on many Yellowstone beauties.  The challenging conditions didn’t hold down all teams though, as tourney vets and rising stars emerged on top of the pack.

The father/son combo Paul and Brian Luepke returned from their respectable inaugural top twenty finish in last year events to bag 23.10 lbs., good enough for 5th place.  These Columbus, MT anglers went from never fishing this section prior to last year’s tournament, to a top 5 finish in year two.  Tourney vets Otis and Austin Oblander raced to the top tier with a 24.17 lb. stringer, good enough for fourth place.  Their fourth place finish signifies this squad’s fourth top 20 finish and second top 10 finish at the Challenge.  Newcomers Justin Hauge (Shepherd) and Johnny Stoller (Laurel) made a splash, edging out Team Oblander by .01 lbs., good enough for third place.

Three-time tour champions Robert and Bobby Wise (2015 Co-Anglers of the Year) were in a bit of a pickle.  Should they head back for weigh-ins and get back in plenty of time or push the limits and hit one last spot?  Good thing Robert had his say, because it paid off in a BIG way.  Popping a 10 lb + hog in the closing minutes proved to be the difference maker.  On most years their 28.2 lb basket would probably have been enough to walk away with the top prize but not this year.

Randy Franco and Nicholas Fortier of Billings had their own plans.  Building off last year’s third place finish; this rapidly rising squad surpassed the thirty-pound mark for a resounding victory and their first Championship on the Montana Cats tour (and I doubt the last).  It wasn’t always in the bag though.  “We had a really slow first three, four hours of fishing and then it just turned on”, explained Nicholas.  Relying on their instincts and time on the water, they never panicked.  Landing an 11.26 lb Yellowstone River monster didn’t hurt matters either (Big Fish of tourney).  Congrats Randy and Nicholas on an outstanding tournament and your FIRST MT CATS CHAMPIONSHIP!

The 2016 B’n’M Angler of the Year is sure to be a barn burner.  Don’t miss out on any more of the action!  There are still spots open in Monster Cat Roundup in Sidney and Missouri River Catfish Clash in Williston.  Montana Cats events are like a brotherhood…. you’ll have to join up to see what all the talk is about.  The Montana Catfish Association would like to thank the following sponsors for their continued support. Without you, none of this would be possible. A huge thanks goes out to: Pryor Creek Bar & Café, Minnow Bucket, Riverside Marine & Cycle (Miles City), KR Rauch Company, All Awards (Lewistown), Cat River Anchors, Briggs Distributing, Cabelas, Whisker Seeker Tackle, B’N’M’ Poles, Carquest & RS Jet Boat Anchors. See everyone in Glasgow for the second leg of the Montana Catfish Association tour at the Milk River Catfish Classic on June 4th.


Pictures for this event can be found here.

big fish

Nicholas Fortier 11.26 lbs. Big Fish Award

complete results

1. Randy Franco (Billings, MT) / Nicholas Fortier (Billings, MT) 30.11 lbs.
2. Robert Wise (BIllings, MT) / Bobby Wise (Billings, MT) 28.22 lbs.
3. Justin Hauge (Shepherd, MT) / Johnny Stoller (Laurel, MT) 24.18 lbs.
4. Otis Oblander (Ballantine, MT) / Austin Oblander (Ballantine, MT) 24.17 lbs.
5. Paul Luepke (Columbus, MT) / Brian Luepke (Columbus, MT) 23.10 lbs.
6. Ray Lambrecht (Billings, MT) / Paxton Lambrecht (Billings, MT) 23.08 lbs.
7. Jordan Hoagland (Billings, MT) / Eric Wolff (Billings, MT) 22.94 lbs.
8. Eddie White (Billings, MT) / Ann White (Billings, MT) 22.90 lbs.
9. Dan Dupea (Billings, MT) / Eli Dupea (Billings, MT) 22.22 lbs.
10. Jayson Riggin (Billings, MT) / Robert Petersen (Billings, MT) 21.15 lbs.
11. Blake Gauer (Park City, MT) / Lindsey Gauer (Park City, MT) 21.11 lbs.
12. Brenner Flaten (Glasgow, MT) / Jason Flaten (West Wendover, NV) 19.97 lbs.
13. Rick Davis (Billings, MT) / Bobby Srb (Billings, MT) 18.61 lbs.
14. Kent Hagen (Billings, MT) / Nick Pentas (Billings, MT) 18.31 lbs.
15. Bryon Armour (Lewistown, MT) / Ty Thomas (Lewistown, MT) 18.20 lbs.
16. James Decker (Sidney, MT) / Steve Lowrey (Sidney, MT) 17.91 lbs.
17. Chad Mueller (Sidney, MT) / Ryan Dempsey (Glendive, MT) 17.40 lbs.
18. Matt Bushman (Billings, MT) / Zac Bushman (Billings, MT) 17.36 lbs.
19. Jordan Van Haele (Decker, MT) / Jim Crawford (Sheridan, WY) 17.19 lbs.
20. Rod Seder (BIllings, MT) / Rob Seder (Hardin, MT) 17.02 lbs.
21. Corey Bushman (Billings, MT) / Codey Evans (Billings, MT) 16.91 lbs.
22. Charles Marottek (Poplar, MT) / Josh Marottek (Med Lake, MT) 16.53 lbs.
23. Jeff Kilwein (BIllings, MT) / Frank Cook (BIllings, MT) 16.46 lbs.
24. Steve Harris Jr. (Sidney, MT) / Steve Harris Sr. (Sidney, MT) 15.58 lbs.
25. Edward Seiders (Billings, MT) / Wade Bomar (Billings, MT) 15.11 lbs.
26. Justin King (Sidney, MT) / Jeremiah Hopstad (Billings, MT) 13.86 lbs.
27. Matt Cool (Billings, MT) / Robert Jones (Billings, MT) 12.64 lbs.
28. Cody Veal (Story, WY) / Darin Gagliano (Banner, WY) 12.46 lbs.
29. Travis Kennedy (Billings, MT) / Kevin Howie (Billings, MT) 11.88 lbs.
30. George Stuckers Jr. (Sidney, MT) / George Stuckers Sr. (Sidney, MT) 11.66 lbs.
31. Mick Rivard (Shephard, MT) / Paul Faber (Miles City) 11.58 lbs.
32. Derek Carda (Sidney, MT) / Zach Mcpherson (Sidney, MT) 10.35 lbs.
33. Larry Green (Billings, MT) / Chris Bentz (Billings, MT) 9.13 lbs.
34. Scott Swanson (Laurel, MT) / Bobbie Swanson (Laurel, MT) 8.65 lbs.
35. Willy Lauckner (Nashua, MT) / Chris Kolstad (Glasgow, MT) 7.21 lbs.
36. Kyle Knight (Billings, MT) / Bryan Kuykendall (Worden, MT) 6.79 lbs.
37. Andy Ard (Laurel, MT) / Kevin Zimmerman (Billings, MT) 6.26 lbs.
38. Todd Dooley (Sidney, MT) / Sam Syth (Sidney, MT) 6.17 lbs.
39. Lane Hodgson (Sheridan, WY) / Doyle Hodgson (Sheridan, WY) 5.00 lbs.
40. Perry Jones (Billings, MT) / Paul Waller (Billings, MT) 4.86 lbs.
41. Phil White (Billings, MT) / Scott Rogina (Billings, MT) 4.66 lbs.
42. Levi Krehmeyer (Gillette, WY) / T.J. Larson (Gillette, WY) 0.00 lbs.
42. Andy Guy (Buffalo, MT) / Jordan Quitugua (Stanford, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Mark Striegel (Pompeys Pillar, MT) / Wendell Hays (Pompeys Pillar, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Darin Eschenbacher (Savage, MT) / Jim Wenzel (Sidney, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Brady Mueller (Sidney, MT) / Brandon Mueller (Sidney, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Gary Cantrell (Billings, MT) / Spencer Cantrell (Billings, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Sean Hill (Great Falls, MT) / Jeromy Riggin (Great Falls, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Tim Stockmon (Billings, MT) / Mark Goldammer (Bozeman, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Brooks Bauer (Billings, MT) / Kevin Bauer (Billings, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Jeff Unterseher (Glendive, MT) / Ben Unterseher (Glasgow, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Jon Stark (Shepherd, MT) / Tyler McElvain (Shepherd, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Dan LaPierre (Billings, MT) / Jen LaPierre (Billings, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Dan Walter (Shepherd, MT) / Levi Walter (Billings, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Scott Schmidt (Sidney, MT) / Shane Litten (Sidney, MT) 0.00 lbs.
42. Christopher Salo (Huntley, MT) / Tom Christensen (Billings, MT) 0.00 lbs.

Posted in: Yellowstone Challenge