If you’re like me, and I know I am…you have a lot of crankbaits.  So, yeah.  But, if you ARE like me, then you also have ( or will have very soon after reading this) a Crank Canvas brand Classic Pro crankbait organizer.  I have over 50 lures in this roll, and you can see that every one is visible, everyone is protected, and it really is a compact, well thought out system.  Check them out here in Kalispell at Snappy Sport Senter or order online at www.crankcanvas.com  You can’t go wrong with this one gang, I promise you!

Best way to store your crank baits

Best way to store your crank baits


Ice Fishing Tackle SALE!

Ice Fishing Tackle SALE!

We had SO much fun last year, we have aired up the tires, filled the tanks and are on our way to the first of four stops (for now). We started this experiment last year to give the Montana and North Dakota ice anglers an opportunity to purchase the latest and hottest ice fishing gear on the market today, in areas where those anglers are under served.  By under served, we mean places where retailers may not stock very much beyond the basics, or maybe the selection is OK, but the product knowledge might be lacking a little.  We were blown away by the response and realized there really was a need.

This year, we have added several brands and items that were missing, and have streamlined things a bit.  We have a fantastic selection of Striker Ice suits and Vexilar brand electronics, along with the Marcums again.  We have added Jiffy propane augers along with StrikeMaster, Polar Fire and Eskimo ice augers.  You will just have to see for yourself.  We are there to help you make the right choices based on our extensive product knowledge and your specific needs.


Pete Jellar from Petes Tackle Shop will be with us for the first couple of stops and we will have a great selection of his tackle. We look forward to seeing all our friends real soon!



The battle cry of Auburn University in Alabama, and the newest boat in the A Able Fleet! The War Eagle 860 is the Cadillac of welded aluminum, modified V shallow water boats. It stands ready to take our clients fishing in the shallowest waters of NW Montana, whether that is the Flathead River, the Swan River, Smith Lake, Upper Thompson and a dozen others. Equipped with a Mercury Opti-Max 115 Jet, state of the art sonar/GPS, and much more.

War Eagle 860 18' Jet Boat

War Eagle 860 18′ Jet Boat

So…our Battle Cry remains…let’s go fishing!!!

“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.


First Ice Prep

This weekend’s Arctic blast has got me full speed ahead thinking about my upcoming ice fishing season.  Every year, the new ice fishing season presents us with opportunities to learn new things, overcome past obstacles and just flat get a fresh start on things.

But the season doesn’t start once the ice finally forms on your favorite early ice lake.  In fact, it should have already begun.  What shape is your gear in?  Have you inventoried that mess that you “put away” last year? Did you hose out the sled base on your portable shelter, or are there still dead bait, sawdust and candy wrappers?  Better set it up in the garage and check it out…

How about the auger?  Did you put fuel stabilizer in it and fill the tank?  Or better yet SEF 94, the ethanol free super fuel for your small engines? Wipe the entire unit down with a light coating of oil like Amsoil MP or WD-40? No?  Well, better get busy…drain old fuel, fill with fresh, change the spark plug etc., etc.

Inventory those tackle boxes. Replace those favorite jigs and baits now, while the selection in stores is at its best. Don’t think that hot bait is still going to be on the shelves come mid-February, and they won’t be stocking more until next year! If the hook is bent, or rusty, replace it! Sideline the stuff you haven’t used in a couple of years, and make room for the good stuff.

Now, check and charge batteries, put some fresh line on the reels, get some fresh waxies, maggots or your bait of choice and go hit the lake!  Yes, go now, BEFORE it freezes!

This is the time of year that fish start moving into the places that they will spend most of the hardwater months. They are looking for cover/structure that will provide food and security through the long dark period ahead. AND they are hungry. They know the lean times are ahead, and the ones that have seen a season or three are aware they need to make plans to get through another one.

Find those bigger fish now, and know they will be there when you come back in a month or so. Keep a couple for dinner, but don’t put a hurting on them now, for they might decide this isn’t such a great place to winter.  Examine their bellies to see what the food of choice is and file that away.  And if you have one, get to work with the underwater camera and find more of those choice morsels.

Bloodworms burrowing in the bottom on a mud flat?  Crayfish working a rockpile or gravel area? Small minnows on a weedbed or down timber?  All of this info will help you write that playbook for the first game of the ice fishing season, and help you get a leg up on the competition.

Eatin' good in the neighborhood


This is one of my favorite times of the year.  I look forward to first ice from the day I put the gear away in spring. It’s been too long since I landed a jumbo perch through a hole in the ice, but you know what?  I’m ready…literally .

Join us for the Snappy Sport Senter annual ice season kickoff Saturday November 17th in Kalispell.  65th anniversary specials, seminars all day and a chance to meet and discuss all things ice. Look for seminar schedules here real soon!


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.

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!

A Fine Montana Rainbow Trout and the Fetha Styx rod that subdued her.

I have had a chance to fish several of the Fetha Styx rods now and all I can say is WOW!  I have had the Chrome Series FS-ST-963-2C rod in the boat for a while now, and while I have been using it in the downrigger, it’s when the fish is hooked that that no longer matters.

The quality of construction is quite evident, and this is their “value” line…The feel of the rod, the way you can feel every movement of the fish and the fact that is designed, built and finished in the USA has me sold on Fetha Styx.

I am looking forward to fishing the “built for Flathead” Chrome Series downrigger rod that Fetha Styx built from and for my input but I can already tell there will be more of these in my boat very soon.

Yesterday, I got to fish a couple of the “Homewater” series rods…WOW factor over the top!  The Homewater Series rods I got to try were the FS-HW-SH-922-2C Steelhead Casting Rod and the FS-HW-SH-981-2S Spinning Rod. While the spinning rod is an ultra light Steelhead rod made for throwing small baits across big rivers, and feeling every tick of the small jig as it bounces along the bottom of the river bed, it actually can cover a lot more work than that.

Of the two, it’s the spinning rod that now resides in my rod rack, and it will not leave that rack until I get a case for it. It is the first ULTRA premium rod I have ever owned and I intend to treat it with the care it deserves!

If you are at that point in life where quality trumps price and you are ready for a rod unlike any you have owned before, you must check out the Fetha Styx line. Salmon, Steelhead, and Bass specialty rods, as well as freshwater models made for a broad spectrum, they have a rod for you. And NO, you can’t borrow ANY of mine…

7 pound rainbow

Took Bill Boyce and Mark Spada from Fetha Styx rods up to Bitterrot on Friday. The wind forecast for Lake Trout fishing on Flathead Lake was not looking good, and the guys wanted to fish for Rainbow Trout and Kokanee Salmon anyway. Bill brought a couple of Fetha Styx rods to try out, so we hooked up my Raider Boat Company 2484 Sea Raider and off we went.

Trolling planer boards made by a friend and using Riviera Trolling Company Planer reels we hooked into a nice 7.5 pound rainbow within the first hour, right as the chop really started to form on the water. The fish hit a Captain Andy’s white streamer fly on the surface, about 150 feet behind the board. I cleared the line and handed Bill the new Chrome Series 9’6″ Steelhead model rod that I have been fishing for the last month or so.

With the drag set very lightly, and using the power of my new favorite rod, Bill brought the fish to the net handily. Mark had the video running the entire time, and after some photo’s we weighed, measured, bled and iced the fish. It weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and taped right at 26 inches. Not the biggest fish in the lake, but a great start to the day.

We only caught one more rainbow, a little guy, but we netted our limit of bigger kokanee and a few more under the regulation as well. The wind blew hard most of the late morning so we moved to the east side of the lake to get a little break from it. We were into fish, but they were not feeding over in that area. We wrapped it up around 12:30.

All in all a decent morning of fishing with a couple guys I am glad I got to know! The fish were in the brine by 6:00PM and will be on their way to the guys early in the week. They were impressed with the Double Spin Kokanee lures made by my good friend Pete Jellar of Petes Tackle here in Kalispell, so I gave them each a few to take home and fish. We caught most of our Kokanee on those lures, they do catch the Kokanee! Bill also got a couple of Petes Walleye harnesses to try out this weekend as well. (Pete, I need some re-stocking buddy!)

Looking forward to fishing the new downrigger rod Bill built for me this week on Flathead Lake as we have several trips on the books for early this week. (Not sure how the bet worked out between Bill and Mark for the biggest Kokanee, I’m sure it will be a topic of discussion between them for some time…)