Well, it has been a LONG time since I wrote a blog, and there is lots to talk about. In March, we had the opportunity to purchase Mo Fisch Charters, after the unexpected passing of Captain Bob Orsua.  I got my start at Mo Fisch, and Bob got his start at A Able with Shorty Goggins, A Ables Founder.  A LOT of people see this as an almost destined merger, I certainly do.  I also see this as a major chapter in the entire charter/guided fishing business in Montana.

In 2016, I took on a new guide that would be responsible for guiding anglers across almost all the waters worth fishing in Montana, East of the continental divide.  Jason Mundel is a multi time Montana Walleye Angler of the Year, multi time tournament winner in the Walleyes Unlimited of Montana tournament circuit, and one of the best multi species angler I know. Jason and I won the $10,000 first prize at this years NAIFC tournament at West Yellowstone in February.  He is a good friend and we obviously work well together.

During our initial process of getting him established over in the Fort Peck area, Jason introduced me to Eddie Mindt, who along with his wife Carrie, and their family, had just purchased the Lakeridge Motel in Fort Peck.  As far as I am concerned, there is no better place to base a fishing charter business on Fort Peck, then right from the historic town of Fort Peck.  Lodging, gas, bait, tackle AND guided fishing, all from the one location RIGHT ON the lake?  Pinch me, I must be dreaming!  So, before the year was out, we had an agreement that would see Eddie and his two sons, Justin and Taylor guiding Fort Peck anglers from the NEW “Lakeridge Lodging and Bait Shop” year round, with Jason operating full time from there June through August.  Eddie has made the Chinook Salmon his specialty, but he and the boys are experts on all the species in the lake, as well as ice fishing in the winter.  More on that in future blogs.

Then in February, when we learned of Bob’s illness and sudden passing, I volunteered to help the Mo Fisch operation by being the outfitter of record until such time as the sale could be completed, and a new outfitter could step in and continue operations.  When the sale fell through and the opportunity to purchase the business came my way, I didn’t need to give it a second thought.  Combining the two busiest charter outfits on Flathead Lake made not just good business sense, it make sense personally. So here we are…

Mo Fisch Charters will continue to operate out of the Lakeside Marina, with Matt McComb, Tom Cobianco and new guide Junior Garrison.  Howe’s Fishing/A Able Charters will continue to operate from Marina Cay Resort in Bigfork with Clay Anderson, Pat Campanella and Chris Mischke. We have a couple other guides that we will be mentoring and utilizing part time during our busiest months, much like every one of us did when we got our starts.  Couple this with our Eastern Montana opportunities and I think it is safe to say, we are now one of, if not THE largest freshwater fishing charter operations in the West.  Our corporate partnerships ensure that we will have the best equipment on the water, and our knowledge base and network will ensure that YOU the client will experience the best fishing opportunities available in the entire state.  Captain Bob and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Welcome aboard, now let’s GO fishing!

 

 

 

Jumbo Perch in Montana

New proposal could see a ten fish over 10″ rule on Flathead Lake.

 

 

Public input for future fishing regulations welcome

 

It is comment time again, with FWP seeking public input on proposed fishing regulations for 2016 and beyond.  For NW Montana anglers, there are some important changes being proposed, as well as clarifications and some consolidations of regulations to make things less confusing for anglers.  When I suggest that folks participate and submit their comments, I often hear “I don’t bother with that, they’re gonna do what they’re gonna do…”  Ever the optimist, I still feel that our comments are read, and are given consideration.  Sure, sometimes things don’t go the way we would like to see them, but that is usually because there is overwhelming support on the “other side” of the issue.  Either way, here are some of the things being proposed for our corner of the state.

I am pleased to see several proposed changes meant to protect our Yellow Perch populations in some of our heavily fished local waters.  Only a few lakes in the state have any kind of harvest or possession limits on perch, and they have long been considered “non game” fish…Many still think they can be used whole as bait fish or cut up into bait, or even just left on the ice in winter if too small or to “feed the eagles”. In fact, only the non-edible parts can be used for bait, and the fish cannot be wasted.

This proposed change, while not imposing a total daily or possession limit, will make a 10 fish over 10 inches per day possession restriction on Flathead, Smith and Lower Stillwater Lakes.  Yellow Perch are fast becoming one of this regions most prized fish, all year long, but especially so during our extended ice fishing seasons on Smith and Lower Stillwater.

The popularity of our Perch Assault ice fishing tournaments and the extreme amount of pressure on East Bay in the spring attests to that popularity and there isn’t a tastier fish than a crispy fried yellow perch.  This ten inch restriction will still allow unlimited harvest of fish for consumption while returning those bigger, more mature fish back to spawn and maintain the resource.

Another proposal, along with the perch restriction, is to increase the harvest and possession limit of Northern Pike from Smith Lake to 50 daily and 100 in possession.  Fisheries managers and many perch anglers feel that this will contribute greatly to providing a quality Yellow Perch fishery on Smith Lake, one of the area’s most popular fishing lakes.

There are many other changes including Bass limits on the Flathead River sloughs, making Cutthroat and Lake Trout possession limits more consistent across the region, more aggressively targeting Northern Pike in several waters where recently introduced and more.  Many other changes will impact anglers across the state, so if you travel to fish, you will be interested in them.

When given the choice to comment on changes, no matter how you feel about them, or if they even impact you, I always feel better about participating, if for nothing more than educating myself to avoid any possible infractions.  Comments will be taken thru September 12th through the usual methods.  Go to www.fwp-mt.gov for more info.

Shorter days and cooler nights are having an impact on surface temps on our area lakes, and several are showing fall patterns.  The Whitefish bite on Flathead Lake has really slowed, if it ever really got going.  Sure, several folks got into some fish for a week or so, but I contribute that to simply more anglers actively targeting them this year.  If that changes, you will hear about it here.  I’ll see you on the water!

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.

As fall winds down and winter closes in, our focus shifts from daily fishing trips to our other myriad projects, businesses and activities.  Don’t get me wrong, we are still booking trips and fishing whenever we get the chance, but owners Mike and Cindy Howe have MANY other irons in the fire, so to speak. Along with our Fall Whitefish Run trips on the Flathead River, and Little Bitterrroot Lake Kamloops Rainbow trips, we are preparing to conduct some of our other activities. You can go HERE to learn more about all of that.

A Able Fishing had a great summer.  We welcomed back former owner and Outfitter Pat Campanella, along with the return of Shorty’s big boat, the Fun Time.  We had a great season on big fish, tallying over 100 trophy lake trout between the three Captains. We had a chance to sponsor or support many charitable organizations events and we grew our charter numbers by over 20%. To say things are going our way would be an understatement and we look forward to serving you, your family and your associates again very soon.  Whether you come with us for your first time, or your 11th time, you will enjoy doing things the A Able way!  See you soon, on the road or on the water!

http://missoulian.com/news/local/cskt-u-s-governments-complete-proposed-water-rights-compact/article_481a56dc-2a0c-11e2-95f4-0019bb2963f4.html

 

Story about the water rights compact between the US and the soveriegn CSKT…if you have been following the battle of Flathead Lake fisheries management…well that ain’t nothing compared to this.  This is something we ALL need to educate ourselves on and plan on attending one of the public meetings.  This all comes down to language in the Hellgate Treaty of 1855.

PLEASE read and comment as appropriate, through the proper channels, and if you need more info, there is no better time than now to contact your representative to the Montana legislature…