The lure, and lore, of a good tackle shop…


I travel a lot. Maybe not as much as some, but certainly more than others. Where I differ is that, I do most of my traveling during winter…The DEAD of winter. As one who promotes two different ice fishing tournaments, as well as traveling to promote our Howes Fishing/A Able Charters business and helping promote Kalispell and the Flathead Valley, we just flat spend a lot of time on the road. Like right now, I am sending in this article from an “undisclosed location” in North Dakota. And I am currently here for one reason only, and that is to sell ice fishing tackle.

You see, everywhere I go, I check out the local fishing stores. Throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas, you will find fishing stores that really cater to anglers. I especially love the old “Bait Shops”. Might be the same guy (or gal) has run that store for 40 years or more. They know what works and what doesn’t, but maybe they aren’t up on the highest tech stuff out today.

Matterns Sporting Goods and Baits-Aberdeen, ND

Matterns Sporting Goods and Baits-Aberdeen, ND

Then we have the modern day mega store…There is a fishing section, and it usually has all the highest tech gadgets, gizmo’s and the “hot new things” that seem to multiply annually. Hopefully, the fishing section, with multiple employees, has a couple of the older guys who can speak to the historical and traditional, and a couple of younger guys who really get the techy, modern day side of things…Dakota Angler in Sioux Falls, SD is a great hybrid…all the old time wisdom along with the highest tech, current magic out there…and the Ice Institute put on here rivals even the biggest shows, but with an intimate feel like no other.

I get a real kick out of both places, and enjoy talking to all of them. I have a soft spot for the old bait shops, looking at stuff that has been on the shelves for years, if not decades, sometimes it is a veritable “history of fishing” all in one spot. Where the “Old Timers” rule! But I also appreciate talking to the other “gear heads”, who take every new piece of high tech stuff and dissect it, study it and most importantly USE it, to wring every bit of performance and capability out of it.

You see, I am both of those guys. I think of myself as a walking talking encyclopedia of all things ice fishing; that is how much I love it. I travel to towns this time of year that may not have either type of store, or maybe only have one. I bring quality ice fishing gear, that I use and trust, to towns that are retail challenged as ice fishing stuff go’s. I call it the Tackle Truck and it allows me to talk to the old timers, and the next generation of anglers, and relate well to all of them. I can tell them what works for their style, and help them make good decisions. To say it is well received is an understatement, and hopefully any retailers in those places will pay attention and begin to take the ice fishing consumer more seriously.

Here in the Flathead, we have great stores that cater to our angling needs. When you have questions, they are there to answer them. When you want to see the latest and greatest item you saw on TV or in the magazine, chancy’s are they have them, and know how they work. And when you want the old tried and true, well they have that too. We really have it made, and I hear that over and over as I travel the state. Ice fishing is a big deal in the Flathead, and I like to think that we have only scratched the surface. There are some even greater things coming, and soon, and you will hear about them here, so stay tuned! See you on the water.