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
Molstads Win 2nd Cat Classic Title in Three Years
June 06, 2009 by Montana Cats Staff
This year’s event provided an all-new obstacle for fisherman as the weather hovered around 40 degrees with a constant drizzle throughout the tournament. Couple that with the fact that the Milk River flows had taken a major downturn over the last week, due to irrigation and a lack of precipitation. It was going to take a brilliant effort to bring in a large stringer.Read More
Records Smashed at 3rd Annual Yellowstone Challenge
May 09, 2009 by Montana Cats Staff
The Yellowstone Challenge continues to grow at an all-time high, this was evidenced by the nice crowd gathered around the Minnow Bucket in Huntley this past Saturday. This years 3rd Annual event provided fun and thrills for all the ages involved. The 60-team limit was filled 3 weeks in advance of the event, as anglers rushed to assure their entry. The local anglers are becoming more excited about catfishing and if this year’s tourney is any indication, we should see continued growth and positive changes into the future.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