Higher Education

In the iconic 1967 movie “The Graduate”, Mr. McGuire pulls Ben aside and says “I have one word for you Ben…Plastics…There’s a great future in plastics…”

Now, I don’t think Mr. McGuire was talking about ice fishing, but he may as well have been, as todays micro plastics have absolutely revolutionized hard water angling. From the tiniest tails to the larger craws and minnows, the injected scents and subtle movements give us an edge that can really take our winter angling to the next level.

“Plastics…are you listening Ben”?

These are a few of my favorite things


“Cool” news!


Hello Fishing Friends,

I just returned from a very special meeting in Minnesota and I am extremely honored to be selected as a Pro Staffer for Ice Force.  What IS Ice Force you say?  Well it is the combination of ice fishing’s most prestigious brands, assembled into one powerhouse company.  Rapala, one of the finest names in all of fishing, has knitted brands like StrikeMaster, Marcum Technologies, Otter Outdoors, Polaris and more into a blanket that covers almost every possible need in the ice fishing world.

Marcum Technologies is leading the way with the most technologically advanced sonars and underwater cameras.  Made in the USA, charging into the digital age and most importantly, listening to fishing professionals and everyday consumers alike.  If you are in the market for an ice fishing sonar or camera, look no further than Marcum Technologies.

StrikeMaster Ice Augers, long the leader in offering the most reliable, easy to use augers on the market.  They were the first to offer a 4 stroke auger, the Strike-Lite. The Solo brand power heads took the market by storm a couple of years ago, with the most advanced two stroke, German engineered engines on the market. Light, powerful and reliable, they are the choice of pro anglers and guides everywhere.  This year, the new Honda powered Strike Lite moves the bar to a new height.  Light weight, clean burning and quiet, it just might be the last auger you will ever buy!

Otter portable shelters, built on the toughest sled base on the market.  The innovative designs coupled with the strongest frames on the market make this shelter almost indestructible. These have no equal on the market today, compare them side by side to any of the other brands on the market and you will choose Otter.

Polaris snowmobiles, quads and side by sides…VMC hooks, Suffix line…the list goes on and on.  Pro anglers and guides, guys and gals who make their living on the water demand the most from their equipment and the brands of Ice Force deliver.  I know…substandard gear doesn’t cut it and has NO place in my boats or ice fishing trailer.  Hey, we’ve all been there…buying and trying things that just don’t cut it.

To be included in the first group of recognized leaders in the field as an Ice Force Pro Staffer is humbling but also something I have worked very hard for. I look forward to representing this group as well as ALL Montana ice anglers in the years to come.  When you see me on the ice this year, feel free to say hi and try out some of this gear.  Come to the in store appearances and seminars and pick my brain.  And by all means share your experiences and likes and dislikes with me.

This ice season, buy with confidence when you see the Ice Force brand. It’s truly the Pro’s choice.



Spent yesterday on the river with Chancy and Clay, doing some whitefish fishing.  The Flathead River has a lot of active fish right now.  We caught Whitefish as well as Lake Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Bull Trout and even a sucker!  This years Spring runoff really changed the channels and river banks, but from a boat, you can access all the good spots!

If you didn’t get enough Lake Superior Whitefish action in the lake this year, give us a call, we would love to share this fishery with you.

We will be at the St. Paul Ice Fishing Show the first weekend in December, we have an awesome booth space and will be promoting A Able ICE fishing Charters and Tours, as well as the Perch Assault Ice Fishing Series AND helping the Kalispell CVB showcase our area.

On the way back from St. Paul, I will be hosting several ice fishing kick off events in Montana. This will be a great chance to meet many folks, represent the companies I Pro Staff for and spread the word about our guided fishing trips and tournaments. I will be on hand conducting several ice fishing seminars, helping you with equipment purchases and just talking ice fishing, especially after just returning from the biggest ice fishing show on earth!

As of now, you can come to three great events.

December 7th-Lewistown Sports in Lewistown, MT (3-7PM)
December 8th-Cabelas in Billings, MT (9AM-6PM)
December 9th-Wholesale Sports in Bozeman, MT (10AM-6PM)

We will be posting more info as it comes available, seminar times etc., but for now, mark your calendars and I hope to see you at one of these events!

Anglers readying for this year’s Fall Mack days should find steady fishing on Flathead Lake now, and continued improvement as the pre spawn and spawn period merge. In fact this weekend should be some great fishing, as several days of a high, steady barometer means the lake trout should be active.
We have been having our best results fishing areas of fairly shallow water, 80-120’ while trolling, on flats that lead to steep drops. The center bar area, from Angel Point south, has been steady, look for areas on the bar where there are subtle depth changes that may not even be apparent on any maps. If not up on the bar, look to the drop offs on either side…although the west side is where I look first.
Trolling Macks Lure Salmon squidders (a hoochie with their awesome Smile Blade) at 1-1.5 mph has been a great choice. In fact, a chartreuse or glow Smile blade in front of any green or white hoochie/squid will catch fish, as long as you keep it “scratching the bottom”. Try one in front of an Ace-Hi fly by Silver Horde, a Pete’s Tackle Mack Fly or any other big trolling fly as well. With the larger (2.8” or 3.3”) Smile Blade, you can eliminate the dodger or flasher once you are on some fish.
For the jiggers, I was in the Painted Rocks area on Monday and there were a LOT of fish suspended, and a lot of bait present as well. Reports of trollers working the Woods Bay area, south of the Sitting Duck, leads me to believe that Lakers will be found feeding near all the areas of steep drops leading to spawning areas. The Delta area still has a lot of bait present, so much in fact your fish finder is black with it at times, but our results there recently have been only so-so.
Most of the fish I have cleaned recently have been filled primarily with smaller whitefish, so matching the color, size and body profile of a Lake Whitefish would be a good start…but as always, be prepared to adapt to what they want. Always a good idea to clean one or two of the first fish you catch to see if and what they are feeding on.
Good luck and good fishing, I’ll see you on the water!
Mike Howe

Heres another GREAT trophy lake trout taken from Montana’s Flathead Lake. If it’s trophy mackinaw you are after, then A Able Fishing Charters and Tours is the outfit for YOU!!! Fall fishing is a great time to go after the big ones and we can take you to them. We will soon be fishing pre-spawn lake trout and that means hungry fish. Call now to arrange your shot at a Flathead Lake Monster!


Big Fish Time!

Changes are underfoot, or under hull might be more appropriate!  As the water in Flathead Lake starts to cool, the lake trout start to feel that change as they get ready for the pre spawn period.  We have been catching more trophy Mackinaw again over the last couple of weeks, as they have definately started to make their move into shallower water.  There is a lot of bait (forage) out there so looking like what they are eating is important.  We clean a LOT of fish and understand their diets…Three of the top five winners in this years Mac Attack tournament were using lures suggested by A Able Charters.  I know, because “I’m not only the Captain, but I’m a customer too”!

Alyssa Ross fishing on her honeymoon!


OK, so it was two weeks ago today when I first cleaned a lake trout with a belly full of perch.  I and others were sure the lake whitefish bite was only days away, but it has not really materialized.  Rumors abound of this guy and that guy catching 20 here and 40 there, but no real bite has materialized.  The perch are still out in the deeper water, still schooled up and still being eaten by the lake trout…

And speaking of lake trout, the bite is still pretty strong for those of us that are out every day and staying on fish.  I have been “rotating crops” as it were, fishing several different areas every other day or so.  This allows small sections of the lake that are holding active fish to “rest” between charters and it has been allowing us to have very productive days on a regular basis.  Of course a fast moving cold front and accompanying winds and swells can throw a monkey wrench at you from time to time, but with stable weather forecast for several days and some strong lunar/solar phases over the next week or so, I see a strong lake trout activity in our future.  And those whitefish?  Well if they show up in the next week or so, I’ll let you know…otherwise, I’ll be making lemonade with the lemons that come my way…Hey, aren’t lemons good on whitefish???

Many are saying that the Whitefish run on Flathead Lake is a bust again this year…but I am not convinced.  In fact, over the last three days, I have cleaned at least 6 lake trout whose bellies were bursting with 1/2″ perch.  It is these perch that the Lake Superior Whitefish key in on when they move into shallow water.  It is only in the last couple of days that I have seen these little guys in the lake trout bellies, so the Whitefish cant be far behind.

I have caught and cleaned these fish from the Delta area on down around Rollins Bay.  I am convinced that it is a timing thing, and the perch are just a little late this year.  The next week will prove me right or wrong, but I would say get out and start looking for the Lake Whitefish in the usual places starting this weekend.  When this bite gets going, we will be offering 4 hour jigging trips for up to 4 people for $300.  You clean your own fish.  Call now and reserve your spot on one of our boats, then call your buddies and invite them along!

See you out there!

Captain Mike

One of the easiest ways to transform your fishing this summer is to add a smile to your favorite lure!  Macks Lure makes the Smile Blade in many sizes and colors and adding a larger size (2.8″ or 3.3″) to a hoochie, squid or trolling fly can make a good lure a GREAT lure.

Put a bead between the lure and the blade and hang on.  A smile blade will transform a Silver Horde Ace-Hi fly or a Petes Tackle Shop Mack Fly into a stand alone lure, no dodger required!

Try the chartruese blade and a green hoochie/squid or the glow blade with a white or glow fly.  The best thing about this set up is that you can troll s-l-o-w when the fish are negative and not have to worry about going fast enough to get the proper action from your dodger or flasher.

If you would rather just buy a ready made rig, get the Macks Lure 4″ Salmon Cha Cha squid.  I have netted over 30 fish with one of these in the last 10 days or so and it has held up great.  Good line and quality hooks make this one lure that you can just fish without worry. The powers that be that want to see the lake trout numbers lowered in Flathead should give these lures to every angler on Flathead Lake…they’re THAT good!