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
Montana Cats 2009 Outlook
March 02, 2009 by MT Cats Staff
3/2/09- Wake up from your winter slumbers and enjoy the fresh air of spring. As we roll into March, we’ll start to see our days get a little longer, the grass and trees will begin to green, and our lakes and reservoirs across this great state will begin to open. Yes, its just about time to head out and wet your first line of the 2009 open water fishing season.
2008 was a great year for Montana Cats. Steps have been taken to improve the site and organization each year we’ve been in existence. We continued to see major growth in our online membership and message board activity. Montana’s catfish tournaments were literally bursting at the seams and it looks like 2009 could very well be the first year that every tournament sells out. Most importantly, the excitement level and popularity of catfishing in these parts seems to be growing at an all-time high.
2009 promises to be an exciting and innovative year for the Montana Catfish Association. We look forward to bringing you continued up to the date information on the sport of catfishing and Montana catfishing specifically. The MT Cats field staff will continue to take great pride in improving the knowledge and helping boost overall awareness of Catfish within the upper-Midwestern United States. The sport of competitive catfishing is still in its infancy, and with tournaments growing at an all-time high, it’s exciting to do our part in promoting the sport. Many organizational changes are on the horizon. We are working diligently to improve your online experience within montanacats.com. Look for videos, podcasts, and premium Field Staff articles to be featured on a more regular basis. Our biggest news, however, is the debut of the Montana Catfish Association Tournament Circuit.
The Circuit will include four tournaments and will be scored on a point system. You will not be required to fish all of the tournaments to win the Circuit title, but it will enhance your chances. Information in regards to the point scoring for the Montana Catfish Tournament circuit will be updated in the near future. Field Staff members Tyler George will take over the reigns on the Yellowstone Challenge this May and Steve Harris will kick off the Inaugural Big Cat Roundup in Sidney. A special thanks to the Friends of Bighorn Lake, for running a high quality event that will now be a part of our Circuit as well. The grand daddy of all Montana fishing tournaments, the 10th Annual Milk River Catfish Classic, once again promises to be an outstanding event.Read More
Local Anglers Win Inaugural Bighorn Catfish Tournament
July 12, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
Lovell, WY 7/12/08 – The Inaugural Bighorn Catfish Tournament kicked off near Lovell, Wyoming last Saturday morning at 8:00 a.m. as twelve teams set out to claim the top prize. Nine teams competed out of boats, and three decided to brave the elements from shore.
It was a beautiful day in northern Wyoming as temperatures would peek in the mid-nineties and there was very little wind making it very hard for the fisherman to stay aggressive and find the active fish. Fishing proved to be very difficult throughout the entire day as only three teams were able to bring in their limit of six catfish. This tournament provided difficulty to the competitive angler, because it is held during spawn period rather than pre-spawn like the rest of the regional catfish tourneys. Catfish are generally not as active during this time, and it showed on this afternoon. Local Veteran Bighorn River Anglers; Oren Jones and Craig Winterholler, both of Lovell, Wyoming were able to run away with the tournament crown, by catching their limit of six cats at just over twenty five pounds. Congratulations to Oren and Craig! Only two other teams were able to reach the teen mark, 2nd Place team of Jim Bowman and Jeff Minchow, and the 3rd place Montana Cats duo of Brenner Flaten and Tyler George. Jeff Minchow would also cash the check for the biggest catfish of the tournament, a piggie, tipping the scales at 9.26 pounds.
Every catfish at the event was weighed, measured, and tagged by the Wyoming Fish and Game. We are happy to report there was once again a zero percent mortality rate. The entire tournament field deserves some recognition for that. The Friends of Bighorn Lake did a tremendous job at getting this event off the ground. The opening rules meeting and the weigh-ins were run very well and this tournament will undoubtedly see massive growth into the future. A special thanks goes out to Joe Anderson at the Horseshoe Bend Motel from the Montana Cats field staff. Thank you for your generosity and we look forward to working with you and the rest of FOBHL for many years to come. There is a distinct possibility that this event will join three others alike in Montana next fishing season, to form the first ever Montana Catfish Association tournament circuit! Please enjoy the final results and the pictures from this weekends event below.Read More
5th Annual Savage Fire Department
June 09, 2008 by MT Cats Staff
6/9/2008- The 5th Annual Savage Volunteer Fire Department Catfish Tournament scheduled for the second weekend in June filled the 60 team limit a week early this year. Unlike many fishing tournaments that highlight targeting the biggest fish, this one has an additional challenge. Each 3-man-team may only weigh fish between 12-18 inches. This slot limit is an additional hurdle to cross, often times requiring anglers to change their traditional fishing techniques or locations. The tournament weekend kicked off with the Friday night Calcutta/social. This is a time when fishermen can bid on tournament teams while enjoying conversation, fresh grilled burgers, or cold refreshments.
Following the Calcutta, tournament action began at 7 AM Saturday and weigh-ins conclude at 3:30. One team stood out above the rest when it came time to weigh the days catch. Matt Reynolds, Lance Kuylen and Troy Cotter braved the high waters, mosquitoes, and swarms of gnats with an impressive 5.98 lb stringer. Keith Nelson, Duane Smith and Lee Moore came in a close second place finishing only .15 lbs behind the leaders. Tourney vet Kevin Bentz led his team of Augie Bentz and Dave McKinney to a third place finish. Field staff members Brady Flaten, Brenner Flaten, and Tyler George earned a respectable 4th place finish with 5.515 lbs.
Pat Reynolds and the Savage Volunteer Fire Department continue to put on an exceptional catfish tournament. Montana Catfish Association commends Miller and the S.V.F.D for expressing concern for conservation in addition to organizing such a great catfish event. Another thanks goes out to the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks for aiding in measuring and weighing our catches. Final results are listed below. Team interviews and picture links will be up soon so keep checking back for continued coverage of this great event.Read More