The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Blake Gauer
For the Courier 

Flaten-Plouffe Make a "Splash" at the "Clash"


August 30, 2017

We couldn’t have asked for better conditions for the 2017 Catfish Clash, held in Williston, N.D., on Aug. 19, as 53 boats set out to conquer the Mighty Missouri. The Williston section always provides big fish and plenty of them. The days leading up to this year’s seventh-annual “Clash” were consistent and, in turn, it provided a bit of river stability that all anglers were able to enjoy. Weather on the day of the event was about as ideal as one could hope for. Air temperatures stuck in the mid 80s, storms stayed by the wayside, river flows (although higher than year's past) lacked any major fluctuation, and water temperature was a reasonable 70 degrees.

Targeting post-spawn Channel Cats in mid-August is not always a gimme, but as the fish look to regain a few lost pounds coming out of spawn, one will always maintain high hopes of coercing a few big cats into taking their baits. Coercing seemed to be the name of the game for many anglers as the “sit and stay to make it pay” method seemed to be a popular vote during weigh-in interviews. Fishing was more difficult for this year’s tournament than it had been in the past, however.

Tournament champions Brenner Flaten, Glasgow, and Cole Plouffe, Glendive, focused on a three-mile stretch of river to pull away from the field. In a last-ditch effort during Friday’s pre-fishing, the duo targeted a short stretch of river that seemed to be holding some decent catfish. The pair had strategized going into Saturday, and as the horn sounded the next morning, they ventured to that same familiar location to find their theory was indeed correct. They landed the majority of their fish in the first few hours of the day and credited frogs as their bait of choice. They had their limit of five cats at just under 36 pounds, just before the noon hour. They were unable to upgrade in the afternoon, but it didn’t matter. Their “hot stretch” of river produced nearly 25 cats in total for the seasoned anglers. The pair had teamed up for three previous Catfish Clash events and had placed in the top eight all three times. This year, they finally scaled the mountain. The championship is Flaten’s sixth career MT Cats Circuit victory.

Brady Flaten, Glasgow, and Nate Molstad, Havre, are the two most decorated anglers in Clash history, and they nearly pulled it off once again. Concentrating on just a handful of spots, they too “grinded it out,” so to speak. The bite may have been a grind as they were only able to land 10 fish, but the quality of fish (including Molstad’s Big Fish Runner Up of 10.95 lbs) was enough to put these two in second place with an outstanding 33.60 pound basket. The three-time champions certainly have nothing to hang their heads about after another fine performance.

Caleb Wells, Williston, N.D., and Josh Pruitt, Watford City, N.D., proved that their second-place finish in 2016 was no fluke as they proceeded to round up five Missouri River beauties for a third-place finish with a whopping 31.35 pounds. Back-to-back top-three finishes is an incredible accomplishment and they have their sights set on the top spot in the future.

Ryan and Presley Mehling, a father/daughter combo from Hardin, made a memory to last a lifetime and filled the crowds hearts as they took the stage. They fought hard all day. Their 11th and final catfish came during the last hour of the tourney, as they made their way back to the bridge. The final fish boosted their five-fish basket all the way up to fourth place with 30.64 lbs. When Presley (six years-of-age) was asked “Who caught all the fish?,” she replied, “I did,” and when asked, “How long did it take you to reel in the largest one?” (9.91 pounds) she replied, “30 seconds!” It was an outstanding highlight to the weekend’s events and will not soon be forgotten. Rounding out the top five are Montana Cats Circuit veterans Nicholas Fortier and Randy Franco, both of Billings. The team claimed their fish were very temperamental and each of the seven fish they were able to land throughout the day had taken quite a bit of time before committing to their baits. Patience was a virtue but yet once again these two prevailed. Their five largest channel cats were enough to award them fifth place with an official basket of 29.92 pounds.

Big Fish Honors went to Corey Bushman of Billings. He landed his beast early in the contest and the day continued to go well… but then again how could it not when you have a 14.44 pound ‘kicker’ in your live well? Bushman’s fish fell just short of Bryan Armour’s 2014 Big Fish of 14.63 pounds, which not only holds the Missouri River Catfish Clash’s Big Fish record, but is the largest channel cat in Montana Catfish Association tournament history. Bushman’s beautiful cat now moves into a close second in both categories. After 18 years of Montana Cats events, only one fish has ever hit the scale’s larger than Bushman’s in 2017.

Per tradition on the Montana Cats Circuit, the B’n’M Poles Angler of the Year was awarded upon completion of the Clash awards. Flaten was able to help his teammate clinch the 2017 Clash victory, but he also ‘sealed the deal’ on the Montana Cats 2017 “AOY” title following his two third-place finishes in both the Yellowstone Challenge and The Monster Cat Roundup. Along with the title, B’n’M Poles awarded Flaten a gift of $250 and free entry into the 2017 Mississippi River Monsters Catfish tournament to take place the weekend of Sept. 15 in Memphis, Tenn.

The seventh-annual Missouri River Catfish Clash concludes the 2017 Montana Catfish Association Circuit.

Some interesting stats for the 2017 Montana Cats Season:

*360 different anglers fished in this year's circuit

*80 individuals fished at least two different events

*42 anglers fished at least three tourney's

*13 lucky people managed to wet a line for all four events

*42 different towns/cities were represented

*The final Top 20 in the MT Cats Angler of the Year Standings included five current and former Glasgow residents. (1st-place Brenner Flaten, 2nd-place Nate Molstad, 7th-place Brady Flaten, 7th-place Chad Dawson, and 13th-place Cole Plouffe)

7th Annual Missouri River Catfish Clash Results (53 Teams):

1. Brenner Flaten (Glasgow) / Cole Plouffe (Glendive) 35.97

2. Brady Flaten (Glasgow) / Nate Molstad (Havre) 33.60

3. Caleb Wells (Williston, N.D.) / Joshua Pruitt (Watford City, N.D.) 31.35

4. Ryan Mehling / Presling Mehling (Hardin,) 30.64

5. Nicholas Fortier / Randy Franco (Billings) 29.92

6. Josh Moore (Sidney) / Jordan Riedmann (Bismark, N.D.) 29.30

7. Corey Bushman / Scott Swanson (Billings) 14.44 29.03

8. Darrin Hanson / Chase Rehak (Williston, N.D.) 28.39

9. Jeremy Workman / Brett Colebank (Williston, ND) 26.94

10. Troy Cotter / Mike Licking (Sidney) 25.78

11. Josh Murottek (Medicine Lake) / Charles Murottek (Poplar) 25.54

12. Jason Haugen / Kristina Haugen (Williston, N.D.) 24.99

13. Clint Hecker / Cayden Hecker (Sidney) 24.62

14. Justin Jones / Logan Jones (Sidney) 24.61

15. Rick Ellingson / Jeremy Stansel (Williston, N.D.) 23.49

16. Matt Reynolds / Carrie Niblock (Sidney) 23.12

17. Steve Norcutt / Tara Harrington (Glasgow) 22.24

18. Bryon Armour / Ty Thomas ( Lewistown) 21.83

19. Travis Kennedy / Kevin Howie (Billings) 20.95

20. Rod Seder (Billings) / Rob Ceder (Hardin) 19.81

21. James Bergeron / Marty Ross (Sidney) 19.50

22. Tyler Colebank / Blain Stevens (Williston, N.D.) 17.96

23. Jason Arnson / Casey Heller (Williston, N.D.) 17.44

24. Steve Harris Jr. / Loren Dempsey (Sidney) 17.26

25. Chris Kolstad (Glasgow) / Willy Lauckner (Nashua) 16.67

26. Roy Mehling (Fairview) / Bobby McElvaing (Billings) 14.04

27. Chad Mueller / Justin King (Sidney) 11.98

28. Otis Oblander / Austin Oblander (Ballantine) 11.61

29. Bobby Wise / Robert Wise (Billings) 11.42

29. Brady Mueller / Brandon Mueller (Sidney) 11.42

31. Matt Bushman / Zac Bushman (Billings) 11.41

32. Charles Rogella / Reiley Christopherson (Sidney) 11.15

33. Robert Ferrell / Terry Dishon (Williston, N.D.) 10.09

34. George Stuckers (Sidney) / Cody Stenland (Fairview) 9.73

35. Matt Degenstein / Mindy Degenstein (Williston, N.D.) 9.06

36. Jordan Lyons / Brandon Rod (Williston, N.D.) 7.98

37. Austin Bernent (Sidney) / Bob Bauer (Williston, N.D.) 7.71

38. James Decker (Sidney) / Steve Lowrey (Fairview) 6.87

39. Scott Schmidt / Shane Litten (Sidney) 6.70

40. Todd Dooley / Ryan Dempsey (Sidney) 5.10

41. Ryan Wilson / Kirby Lynch (Williston, N.D.) 4.37

42. Ashley Harris / Melissa Sanders (Sidney) 3.36

43. Brian Bustad (Williston, N.D.) / Ryan Stevens (Westby) 2.83

44. Derek Carda / Adam Smith (Sidney) 1.94

45. Mike Ramsey / Walter Ramsey (Williston, N.D.) 1.16

2017 standings (Top 20)

There is clear path to the annual MT Cats Angler of the Year award. Find a way to capture hardware in at least three events. Brenner Flaten (Glasgow) did just that in 2017. The Milk River Catfish Classic tournament director had little room for error fishing the other three events on circuit. He opened up the season with a third-place finish at the Challenge, took another bronze at the mid-season Roundup in Sidney, and solidified the top spot with his first-ever Missouri River Catfish Clash title to close out the season. His 71 points is a new MT Cats AOY points record. Last year’s Co-Angler’s of The Year, Randy Franco and Nick Fortier, of Billings, came in just short of a repeat performance. Their 67 points was good enough for a tie for second place with circuit veteran Nate Molstad of Havre. B’n’M Poles once again sponsored this year’s Angler of the Year Award. This is their fourth year in a row as the title sponsor. Flaten came away with $250 courtesy of B’n’M and beautiful plaques provided by the Montana Catfish Association.

1. Brenner Flaten (Glasgow) 71 points (3 events)

2. Randy Franco (Billings) 67 points (4 events)

2. Nick Fortier (Billings) 67 points (4 events)

2. Nate Molstad (Havre) 67 points (3 events)

5. James Decker (Sidney) 54 points (4 events)

5. Steve Lowrey (Sidney) 54 points (4 events)

7. Chad Dawson (Dickinson, N.D.) 47 points (2 events)

7. Josh Marottek (Medicine Lake) 47 points (4 events)

7. Brady Flaten (Glasgow) 47 points (3 events)

10. Charles Marottek (Poplar) 46 points (4 events)

11. Blake Gauer (Park City) 39 points (3 events)

11. Lindsey Gauer (Park City) 39 points (3 events)

13. Cole Plouffe (Glendive) 37 points (3 events)

14. Rod Seder (Billings) 36 points (3 events)

14. Rob Seder (Hardin) 36 points (3 events)

16. Chad Mueller (Sidney) 34 points (3 events)

17. Steve Harris Sr. (Sidney) 32 points (3 events)

17. Justin Jones (Sidney) 32 points (2 events)

17. Corey Bushman (Billings) 32 points (2 events)

20. Austin Oblander (Ballantine) 31 points (3 events)

20. Otis Oblander (Ballantine) 31 points (3 events)


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