Champions reigned in the Milk River Catfish Classic on Saturday.
The top five teams were all former winners of the title, including the top duo of Nate and Jerry Molstad, who reeled in 37.29 pounds of catfish for their fourth Classic title.
The Molstad mates exacted ‘a little bit’ of vengeance in the win, edging out young newcomers Gage Gordon and MacKenzie Reid, who won last year’s title just ahead of the Molstads, who finished in second.
“It was nice to take them (Gordon and Reid) out this year after having a good basket last year and then losing to them,” said Nate Molstad. “It was nice to reverse the roles a little bit.”
The Molstads reeled in 39.78 pounds of fish last season – third best in tournament history – but Reid and Gordon had a 51.6-pound monster basket. This year, the father-son Molstad duo held the trump over Gordon’s and Reid’s haul of 35.44 pounds, which would have been good enough to win 10 of the 13 previous tournaments.
So would have the weights of the next three teams in the top five previous champions run. Luke Morehouse and Calvin Kemmis, who won in 2011, took third this year with a 31.39-pound haul. The inaugural tournament champions in 2000, Brady Flaten and Jason Molstad, were fourth at 29.76. Rounding out the top five were Don Resseguie and Kevin Durrell, who were the only team not named Nate and Jerry Molstad who claimed a title between 2007-10 with their victory in 2008.
Jason Maynard and Scott Swanson ended the run of former champions at the top with their sixth-place finish. Maynard also had the Jumbo Whiskers Award for his 11.56-pound behemoth. MacKenzie’s catch of a 11.39 pound cat brought him the Big Whiskers Award. Maynard and Swanson were followed by Willy Lauckner and Chris Kolstad in seventh and Bo Boreson and Vance Anderson in eighth. In ninth was also a former championship team, Todd Young and Matt Tribby, who won in 2002. Chad Dawson and Cade Flaten finished out the top ten.
The big winner from Friday night’s Calcutta was Michele Weiss. Weiss purchased the top four teams the day before and saw them come in for a catfish superfecta.
“I was pretty excited,” said Weiss, who learned of her winnings on Sunday.
Weiss, who lives in Sidney but recently became the owner of the Fort Peck Marina, purchased 11 teams on Friday at the recommendation of a friend. The recommendations turned out to be accurate. The best, and perhaps easiest, turned out to be the suggestion of buying the Molstads.
Coming into this year, Nate and Jerry have placed in the top ten in 11 of the 12 Cat Classics they have fished together, including three titles and two second-place finishes. Now, they have four titles in seven years with their win on Saturday.
As successful as they have been, and in the midst of celebrating their latest title, they still marveled at Gordon’s and Reid’s accomplishments at such a young age as a team.
“It’s pretty impressive what they’ve done in two years,” said Nate Molstad. “It took us this long to try to figure things out and they’ve done it in two years.”
The Molstads have been fishing in the Cat Classic since its inception in 2000. Gordon and Reid were four and five years old, respectively, at the time. Now, Gordon, 16, and Reid, 17, may be one of the best cat fishing teams in Montana.
After their win at the Cat Classic last year, Reid, who had never fished in catfish tournament before, was hooked.
J. Levi Burnfin / The Courier
Nate, left, and Jerry Molstad display their two biggest hauls during weigh-ins on Saturday.
“I remember last year, Sunday (after the Cat Classic) we woke up and [Reid’s] like, ‘only 364 days until next year’s [Cat Classic],’” said Gordon.
But they couldn’t wait that long for another tournament, so Gordon and Reid decided to fish the Missouri River Catfish Clash, part of the Montana Cats Tour, in Williston just two months later in August. They finished second.
They are already signed up again to fish in that tournament, set for August 24, this year. Possibly meeting them there will be Nate Molstad, sans father, as Nate partnered with Brady Flaten at last year’s tournament and took fifth.
Gordon and Reid also said they are already looking forward to next year’s Cat Classic. They’ll just have to wait a bit longer than 364 days as it has been set for June 7, 2014.