Well, we just returned from the International Sportsman’s Expo in Salt Lake City, and are heading for the Great Rockies Show in Missoula this weekend!  We enjoy sharing our love of Lake Trout (Mackinaw) fishing on Flathead Lake with folks from all over the western United States. So many anglers share our passion for catching trophy lake trout…and we at A Able Fishing Charters and Tours look forward to guiding and outfitting all you Mackinaw lovers again this year!

Of course we offer guided fishing in Northwest Montana for many other species on several different lakes, as well as scenic tours and trips to Wild Horse Island.  Hard to believe we are ready to kick off another summer of providing what we feel is the best value in guided fishing trips in Montana’s Flathead Valley.  Stay tuned here for lots more on what is happening in our area, from fishing reports to vacation planning to fisheries management.

We hope to see a lot of our Montana friends (and some out of area friends too) at this weekends Great Rockies Sport Show in Missoula! Stop by and say hi, and maybe even catch a seminar. Mike will be talking about “Catching Lake Trout all year long” at 11:00AM on Saturday, and “Tactics for exploring new waters” at 2:00PM on Sunday.

Hard work pays off

Mike and Cindy Howe NAIFC Second Place


We just returned from the North American Ice Fishing Circuit’s National Qualifier at Hebgen Lake. The West Yellowstone Ice Fishing Tournament is in its second year and this year had 68 registered teams. Teams compete for the best weight of 6 Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat and Cuttbow Hybrids. We are thrilled with our second place finish, especially considering the level of competition a National Qualifier brings, and the conditions we all faced. This finish qualifies us for the National Championship to be held December 21st, 2013 at Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. Better yet, you can learn all about the tactics we used on a lake we had never been to at our 5:00PM Friday night seminar Feb 15th at the Montana Sportsmans Expo in Kalispell. Please join us for “Tactics and Technology in Learning New Waters” as well as other seminars Sat and Sun. Go to http://www.montanasportsmansexpo.com/Schedule.html for more info.

Special thanks to Snappy Sport Senter, HT Enterprises/Polar Fire Gear, Ice Force, Marcum Technologies, StrikeMaster Ice Augers, Back Country Adventures and Kirkwood Resort of West Yellowstone, MT, Jack and Grete Baker of the NAIFC and all our competitors!

Remember, for the finest guided ice fishing available in Montana, it’s A Able Fishing Charters and Tours!



One of our more popular activities are tours to Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake. We can drop you off for a hike (boats are the only way to get there), combine it with a homemade picnic lunch, or just cruise you around the island.  But if, you want to see the horses, the best way is to strap on some sturdy shoes and take a hike. You will almost always see dozens of Big Horn sheep and Mule deer, and if you are lucky, get a glimpse of some of the islands namesakes.



ICE fishing report!

Well, it’s Dec 27th and while most of our area lakes have not yet frozen solid, we have several that are offering some great fishing. We have begun taking folks out ice fishing and we are excited about what this season has in store.  We have some new “toys” from Marcum and are offering ice fishing trips featuring the “wilcraft” (for 2 person or less trips).

Today I went to lower Stillwater Lake (near Olney) and am happy to report 5-6″ of ice and a good, hard surface (NO slush). This was in the lower part of the lake, so I can’t speak to the islands area, but there were several folks fishing out there.

Rogers Lake has about 7″ of ice and the grayling and cutthroat are offering some fun fishing.

Smith Lake has good ice and the Sunriser Lions Derby is this weekend, the 29th.  LOTS of pike being caught so prepare for that with heavy mono or braid leaders and standard pike fare.  If targeting perch, you will get bit off, but the perch are nice sized this year.  An underwater camera comes in handy in situations like this!

McWenniger Slough is fishing well for crappie, perch and bass, with the occasional pike. Church Slough has also recently gotten fishable ice.

Lake Five has about 5″ of ice, but the bite is slow according to reports.

Lastly, several of the reservation lakes around Pablo have good ice and are fishing well for perch, pike and bass.  Contact Dick Zimmer at Zimmer tackle for better info on those lakes.

We would love to introduce you to the world of ice fishing this winter or help you fine tune some existing skills, including on water sonar instruction. Give us a call anytime, as Pro Staffers for Snappy’s and several leading companies, we are here to help!

REMEMBER, ice conditions can change rapidly, these reports are only to give you some updates, you must assume all ice is unsafe until YOU confirm it.  See you on the ice, BE SAFE!

Mike and Cindy Howe

We have a BUSY schedule on tap this winter. Along with our winter Flathead Lake and ice fishing charters and promoting the Perch Assault series, we will be traveling to several sportsmans expos and even a couple of tournaments.

We hope you can join us somewhere this winter, if not in the Flathead, then somewhere else.

We will be at the Great Rockies show in Helena, MT on January 5th-6th (I will be conducting 2 seminars on Saturday the 5th)

The NAIFC/West Yellowstone Ice Fishing tournament at Hebgen lake Feb 1st-3rd.

The McGregor Lake Tournament Feb 9th-10th (Guided trips available for tournament anglers with our experienced ice guides)

The Kalispell Sportsmans Expo Feb 15th-17th. (Seminars TBA)

The International Sportsmans Expo in Salt Lake City March 14th-17th

The great Rockies Show in Missoula March 22nd-24th (Seminars on Sat and Sun)

We hope to see you somewhere, real soon!


We recently had a very productive and fun outing on a local lake, icing over 30 crappie in a couple of hours! Several of our area lakes now have good safe ice and the fishing is always good when the lakes first freeze.

Perch, Pike, Trout and Crappie are so much fun to catch through the ice and we have everything you need to make a morning or afternoon trip a memory that will last forever! Full days too, which include a hot lunch on the lake.

We will soon be out on our larger lakes targeting Lake and Rainbow Trout, Kokanee Salmon and even Lake Whitefish.  We have a trip for almost any budget, so give us a call and lets get out on the ice together!

To quote our good friend, author and TV personality Tom Gruenwald…”Nothing beats ice fishing…NOTHING!




Open for Business


Just got home earlier this week from a 13 day road trip across the ice belt. The Saint Paul ice fishing show was incredible…30,000 avid ice anglers thru the doors in 3 days was ice overload!!! Our A Able/Perch Assault/Kalispell, MT booth was in an excellent location and we got to talk to a lot of folks about Montana ice fishing! Expect to see some pretty heavy hitters in the industry coming to fish with us soon, and along with that, opportunities to visit with and learn from them.

Some show “highlights”… Dave Genz’ new book, a cool “ice fishing then and now” display, some great seminars, and visually stunning displays from ALL the top manufacturers. You REALLY should plan to attend one of these shows. I do a lot of consumer shows advertising our business and none seem to have the friendly, we are all in this vibe as the ice show does.

On the way back, I drove through Webster SD and learned quite a bit about the Waubay Lake area. it was 46-50 degrees that day, so I stayed off what little ice there was. I have been invited to bring a Perch Assault tournament to this area in 2014 and will work hard to do so. 200 teams would be a likely number and that Glacier Lakes region is getting famous for huge perch…

Then it was north to Devils Lake. North Dakotans don’t consider ice “good” until they can drive a pick up on it! So when you ask…be specific. I probably could have gone almost anywhere on the lake in my Wilcraft…or any four wheeler/snow mobile. I fished a sunken road bed in 6 Mile Bay for a couple hours but could not find any walleye…The amount of fresh water shrimp in that lake is crazy, drill a hole and they are swimming all around it within 3-5 minutes! Guess what your bait should mimic?

Then, northward to Lake Metigoshe in the Turtle Hills region of ND. This lake is famous for walkable ice by Thanksgiving every year, and shares the border with Canada. If you go to Ice Team’s website, you will see video of Dave Genz and crew filming up there this year. BIG Blue gill…10” and one pound blue gill. I spent 2 days here and was shown great hospitality and put on fish by some great folks. Really got to put the new Marcum LX-6 sonar through its paces on those ‘gills and walleye.  I will most likely make this my annual “first ice” trip in conjunction with travel to St Paul ice show…

The NEW Marcum LX-6 Sonar and a 1 lb Blue Gill

After here, it was off to Malta to fish Nelson Resevoir before heading to Dave Snyders new Lewistown Sports and helping him kick off the ice season. Caught a nice 22” walleye, but the tip up guys were slaying the Northern’s on 8-10” of good ice. Had a great crowd of 50 or so at Lewistown sports and met some great folks.

Saturday was ice fishing day at the Billings Cabelas. Gave three seminars and talked about a lot of icey things. Think I helped a few folks decide which fish finders to buy and have been invited back to help keep their staff up to speed on all thing ice fishing. Sunday was the same thing at Wholesale Sports in Bozeman, MT where about 25 folks came out for the Ice Fishing 101 seminar and 5-6 for the Electronics on Ice seminar. Was great to meet and re-meet with some fellow Ice Shantians at both events. Was also invited back for some staff training.

Traveling around educating ice anglers

Bummed out that we had to reschedule our Dec 15th Perch Assault, but that means I have time to go find some ice this week around here! Looking forward to the pre-fishing for the Hebgen Lake NAIFC event in February! Pam and the crew are working tirelessly to put on an incredible event. I hope we really can bring a strong Montana contingent down for that, it’s our opportunity to fish against some of the best tournament anglers on the continent.

Pretty tired after 13 days on the road, but really looking forward to getting back out now that all my gear is, or has been, covered in ice for the new season! If you want to see some photo’s from the trip, check out our face book page, “a able fishing charters and tours” and “Perch Assault”

Be safe out there! Mike



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…

“I keep on Searchin’”

One of the simplest and fastest way’s to determine if fish are in the area, (and most importantly feeding), is to use what is dubbed a “search lure”.

In its simplest form, a search lure is something that makes a commotion and attracts fish in to investigate.  It may not be what the fish will ultimately strike, but it draws them in.  Once you have the fish close, you may change the lure to something smaller, quieter and less intrusive.

A classic example of a search lure is Rapala’s Clackin’ Rap.  It’s heavy, and gets down quick.  It’s noisy so it sends much more than a visual signal. And to a predator fish, it’s so often irresistible. You might find that it brings a big toothy pike or lake trout in so fast you don’t even have time to do anything except set the hook! And that will put a smile on your toothy mug that will last most of the day!

The 1-2 punch!

But what if the intended target pulls up short?  Well, that’s when you have to throw the change up.  On your second rod, you have something a little smaller, a little more subtle to present to a curious but doubting fish.  Maybe it’s a smaller Jigging Rap with a minnow head.  Or something even smaller…  Don’t wait too long trying to get the big guy to take that search bait, be ready to offer the morsel before you lose the element of surprise.

Try this tactic the next time you are running and gunning an area and try your hand at using search lures to surprise a large predator fish. You’ll be glad you did.



Please join me at the Wholesale Sports store in Bozeman, MT on Sunday December 9th for a fun ice fishing get together.  Meet fellow ice fishing enthusiasts, take advantage of in store specials and maybe even learn a thing or two at the seminars.  I will just be returning from the St. Paul Ice Fishing show and hopefully some North Dakota early ice fishing.  I hope to see you there!

Sunday Schedule

12:00-12:30PM- Meet and Greet


Join Flathead area Outfitter and Perch Assault tournament co-founder, Mike Howe for an exciting ice fishing presentation called “Ice Fishing  2013, Back to Basics”.  Mike will cover the basics everyone needs to know before hitting the ice, and look at new techniques and equipment.  See how far ice fishing has come, and where things are going in the future.  Electronics, shelters, clothing and more will be discussed with plenty of demonstrations as well. This seminar will last approx. I hour and 15 mins.


Mike will present a seminar entitled “Maximizing your Electronics”. Join Mike as he explains how to choose, and use, the right electronics for your Ice Fishing use.  A member of the Marcum Pro-Staff, Mike will explain why “Flasher” style sonars rule the ice fishing world, and look at some recent technological advances in fishing electronics that may change that.  New advances in electronics will be discussed, and GPS, underwater cameras, critical transducer set-up and care will also be covered.  Approx. 1 hour