Cats Incredible revisited

Another Cats Incredible is in the books, and by all accounts, a good time was had by all. The weather mostly cooperated, river levels were ideal and some very respectable fish were brought to the scales.

Cats logoWinning the tournament and the top prize of $3,800 was the team of Pat Carter, Elk Point, S.D., and Travis Carter of Fargo, who weighed in their five-fish limit both days for a total weight of 79.02 pounds. The Carters also finished first in 2006 and 2008.

Teams could weigh in five fish daily, only two of which could exceed 24 inches.

The tournament paid cash prizes down to 15th place. Rounding out the top 15 according to the weigh slip calculations posted on the East Grand Forks firefighters’ website were:

Second: Rob Horken and Greg Stennes, East Grand Forks, 77.76 pounds, $2,280.

Third: Aaron Johnson and Nathan Mytych, Grand Forks, 76.82 pounds, $1,520.

Fourth: Darin Lunski and Trever Lunski, Grand Forks, 76.01 pounds, $1,140.

Fifth: John Sonstegard and Buck Nordlof, Baudette, Minn., 72.45 pounds, $760.

Sixth: Dustin and Brandon Lunski, Grand Forks, 71.49 pounds, $532.

Seventh: Curt Helgeson, Crookston, and Ryan Ova, Reynolds, N.D., 71.12 pounds, $494.

Eighth: Brian and Jackson Rud, Grand Forks, 69.09 pounds, $456.

Ninth: Justin Kahl and Troy Weber, East Grand Forks, 68.59 pounds, $418.

10th: Ray Lee, Grand Forks, and Eric Thompson, East Grand Forks, 63 pounds, $380.

11th: Brian and Jaelyn Nelson, East Grand Forks, 62.93 pounds, $327.

12th: William Murray and Jennifer Brendon, East Grand Forks, 60.01 pounds, $304.

13th: Christian Meland, Grand Forks, and Pablo Avendano, Minneapolis, 57.87 pounds, $281.

14th: Jimmy Yowell, Chillichothe, Mo., and Larry Yowell, Kirksville, Mo., 57.77 pounds, $243.

15th: Phillip Jeffrey, East Grand Forks, and Jason (no last name listed), Warren, Minn., 57.27 pounds, $175.

Cats Incredible was open to 125 two-person teams, and 95 teams fished the tournament. Anglers weighed in 570 catfish — 291 on Saturday and 279 on Sunday — for a total weight of 4,002.34 pounds and an average weight of 7.02 pounds per fish. A couple of cats exceeding  20 pounds were brought to the scales Sunday.

By comparison, 111 teams fished last year’s tournament, weighing in 596 fish for a total weight of 4,563.51 pounds and an average weight of 7.63 pounds per fish.

The full listing of tournament teams and their finishes dating back to 2010 are available on the East Grand Forks firefighters’ website at iaff3423.org. Click the Cats Incredible link at the top of the page.

Catching catfish – and tagging catfish

I had a chance to spend a few hours on the Red River near Selkirk, Man., on Monday afternoon with Mark Pegg, a fish ecologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who is faculty adviser for a channel catfish study underway on the Canadian portion of Red River.

Mark Pegg, a professor and fish ecologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, holds a hefty channel cat after tagging it Monday on the Red River near Selkirk, Man. (Brad Dokken photo)

Mark Pegg, a professor and fish ecologist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, holds a hefty channel cat after tagging it Monday on the Red River near Selkirk, Man. (Brad Dokken photo)

Manitoba and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are coordinating the study in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

Pegg, who is spending the summer in Manitoba helping to tag channel catfish for the study, tied up to our boat Monday afternoon while a couple of friends and I were fishing. Despite the sweltering heat, the catfish were surprisingly cooperative, and 15 catfish now sport the orange-colored tags behind the dorsal fins as a result of our time with Pegg.

Under Pegg's guidance, Brad Durick (left) of Grand Forks tags a channel catfish Monday on the Red River near Selkirk, Man. (Brad Dokken photo)

Under Pegg’s guidance, Brad Durick (left) of Grand Forks tags a channel catfish Monday on the Red River near Selkirk, Man. (Brad Dokken photo)

He even let Grand Forks catfish guide Brad Durick, who joined me on the trek north, tag several cats. Durick has documented nearly a dozen of the catfish tagged in Manitoba after catching the fish here in Grand Forks. That means the catfish have traveled upwards of 300 river miles from where they were tagged.

Durick and Pegg had corresponded by email about the study and our planned trip north, so the meeting wasn’t coincidental. Durick also caught one of the tagged Manitoba fish while we visited with Pegg. He probably should have bought a lottery ticket that day.

Since launching the study in 2012, Pegg says he and a handful of Nebraska students working on the project have tagged some 13,000 channel catfish along the Manitoba portion of the Red from the mouth near Lake Winnipeg to the border at Emerson, Man. DNR fisheries crews also tagged about 500 catfish on the U.S. portion of the Red this summer as part of the same study Pegg is advising.

An Iowa native, Pegg says the size and quality of the Red River’s channel cats has spoiled him for fishing catfish anywhere else.

Pegg says plans also are in the works to install transmitters in a small sample of the Canadian catfish — perhaps 12 to 15 to start with — in an effort to learn even more about where they travel. The Minnesota DNR coordinated a similar catfish telemetry study in the late 1990s, but this will be the first project since then looking at movements of fish in the lower Red River.

I’ll have an update on the tagging study and our time on the water with Pegg in Sunday’s Northland Outdoors section.

N.D. Game and Fish sets fall small game, furbearer regulations

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department released its small game and furbearer regulations this morning, and most are similar to last year. Prairie chicken and sage grouse seasons again will be because of low populations.

Season dates and regulations for most of North Dakota's upland and small game seasons are similar to last year.

Season dates and regulations for most of North Dakota’s upland and small game seasons are similar to last year.

Also as in recent years, only North Dakota residents can hunt waterfowl from Sept. 26 through Oct. 2. Nonresidents can hunt waterfowl in North Dakota beginning Oct. 3. Game and Fish will finalize other waterfowl season details in mid-August in the waterfowl amendment to the small game and furbearer proclamation.

Here’s a look at this year’s season dates and bag limits:

  • Crows (fall): Aug. 15-Nov. 2; no daily or possession limit.
  • Early Canada goose: Aug. 15-Sept. 15 (Sept. 7 Missouri River Zone); 15 daily, 45 in possession.
  • Mountain lion Zone 1 early (zone quota 14): Sept. 4-Nov. 22 (or when zone quota is reached). Season limit of 1 per hunter.
  • Mountain lion Zone 1 late (zone quota 7): Nov. 23-March 31 (or when zone quota is reached); season limit of 1 per hunter.
  • Dove: Sept. 1-Nov. 9; 15 daily, 45 in possession.
  • Mountain lion Zone 2: Sept. 4-March 31; season limit of one per hunter.
  • Hungarian partridge: Sept. 12-Jan. 3; three daily, 12 in possession.
  • Sharp-tailed grouse: Sept. 12-Jan. 3; three daily, 12 in possession.
  • Ruffed grouse: Sept. 12-Jan. 3; three daily, 12 in possession.
  • Tree squirrels: Sept. 12-Jan. 3; four daily, 12 in possession.
  • Sandhill crane Unit 1: Sept. 19-Nov. 15; three daily, nine in possession.
  • Sandhill crane Unit 2: Sept. 19-Nov. 15; two daily, six in possession.
  • Snipe: Sept. 19-Dec. 6; eight daily, 24 in possession.
  • Woodcock: Sept. 26-Nov. 9; three daily, nine in possession.
  • Tundra swan: Oct. 3-Jan. 3; season limit of one per hunter (license issued by lottery).
  • Pheasants: Oct. 10-Jan. 3; three daily, 12 in possession.
  • Weasel trapping: Oct. 24-March 15.
  • Mink, muskrat trapping: Oct. 24-May 10.
  • Fisher trapping: Nov. 23-Nov. 29; season limit of one per trapper.

Hunters should refer to the North Dakota 2015-16 Small Game and Furbearer guides (available mid-August) for more details on small game and furbearer seasons. Waterfowl regulations will be available in early September. More information is available here.