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Flaten and Plouffe Win Missouri River Catfish Clash
August 25, 2021
Low Water. That was the theme of the 11th Annual Missouri River Catfish Clash held in Williston, North Dakota over the weekend. The event came into question mid-week due to the low water levels and issues with the boat launch at tournament headquarters. Thankfully, Montana Cats worked collectively with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to ensure safe access for all the anglers and assured that the event would go on as planned. Despite conditions that had not been seen over the last decade of the event and a drop in prop boat attendance, 42 boats still signed up to give it a go. In a Summer littered with drought and temperatures pushing triple digits for weeks on end, tournament week brought a few unexpected curveballs to those competing. Friday's pre-fishing provided steady rainfall with temperatures dipping into the upper 50s. The weather broke on tournament day, but still much cooler than normal with highs in the low 70s.
Brenner Flaten, Glasgow, Mont., and Cole Plouffe, Glendive, Mont., are no strangers to success at the Missouri River Catfish Clash and after a year hiatus they reclaimed the top spot with a 5-fish basket weighing in at 30.27 lbs. The Championship comes after Flaten had 3-peated at the event from 2017 to 2019. Plouffe teamed up with Flaten for two of those previous titles. The duo finished 3rd place in 2020. When asked about what made this tournament different from previous ones, Flaten quipped, "Well...we went up river to our first location and caught a big fish. After another 1 1/2 hours we made another move and found our other big fish of the day. From there it was just consistently moving and small upgrades throughout the day to get us to 27 lbs. With 2 hours left we made a long run and finished at a spot we had liked from pre-fishing. We landed 7 cats there; with 3 of them being the bottom 3 of our basket fish. All three between 4.5 and 5.5. Our last big upgrade came with just 40 minutes left."
Finishing in the runner-up spot, in their Montana Cats Circuit debut, was the team of Cole Kollman and Eric Volkman, both of Sidney, with an outstanding basket of fish that tipped the scales at 29.76 lbs., just a 1/2 pound off a tournament championship. Incredibly, the 3rd place team was also new to the Catfish Clash event. Dan Lawrence, Crane, Mont., and Dave Lawrence, Savage, Mont., finished just out of contention with 29.17 lbs. It is awesome to see new anglers on tour and even better to see them have immediate success. Congratulations to both teams!
The 4th place team is certainly not new to the big show. Joshua Pruitt, Watford City, ND. and Caleb Wells, Williston, ND. added yet another top 5 finish to their impressive Catfish Clash resume. The local anglers put together a very solid day on the water with 27.58 lbs. Pruitt and Wells were 2nd in 2020, 3rd in 2017, & 2nd in 2016.
Rounding out the top five was Chad Dawson and Matt Heth of Dickinson, N.D. Dawson is a 2-time Catfish Clash Champion in his own right and he added another top 5 to an already impressive tournament catfishing resume. The fifth place finish puts a bow on one of the more consistent season's on circuit we have seen to date. Dawson also finished 4th at the season opening Yellowstone Challenge in Huntley, took 6th place on his home waters at the Cat Classic in Glasgow, and took the championship last month at the Monster Cat Roundup in Sidney. A 4-tournament score of 88 points. Simply impressive. As is customary though, one event is dropped from an angler's season in tabulating the Angler of the Year point standings. His Cat Classic finish is dropped, putting Chad at 68 points and just short of AOY honors. Local angler, Wes Whitacre, stole the show for a brief period during the middle of weigh-ins when be brought a trophy to the scale. The Channel Cat's official weight of 13.55 lbs. is the 3rd largest in tournament history! Congratulations to Wes on a job well done.
That left only one question? Who is this season's BnM Poles Montana Cats Angler of the Year? Well it's a familiar face. Congratulations to Cole Plouffe on a 3rd consecutive Angler of the Year! Cole fished with 4 different partners this season. His top 3 performances were a 4th place at the Yellowstone Challenge with Chad Dawson, a 3rd place finish at the Classic with Jason Flaten, and his title with Brenner Flaten over the weekend. Those three finishes were worth a cool 70 points, enough to just out-distance his good friend Chad Dawson for the highest honor. The "Wise Guys", Bobby and Robert, out Billings, tied for 3rd in the final AOY standings with a season score of 63. The Seder brothers rounded out the top five with 60 points apiece.
That brings the 2021 Montana Cats season to a close. It was another year of fantastic fishing that involved over 230 teams over the four events and well over 300 different anglers! We are fortunate to live in an area with great bodies of water, along with people who are competitive and passionate about the sport of Catfishing. Above all, memories were made and new friendships were forged. We look forward to bringing you all some new and excited changes for next season. Thank you to ALL of our individual tournament sponsors as well as our circuit level sponsors; BnM Poles, Thrivent Financial-Shelly George, Enduro Products, Montucky Cold Snacks, & RS Jet Boat Anchors. We will see you all in the Billings area on May 14, 2022 for the 16th Annual Yellowstone Challenge.