(All photos courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)
A total of 80 anglers with disabilities participated in the 20th annual Fishing Without Barriers Day on Flathead Lake on June 13. The anglers caught a total of 13 lake trout from fishing boats trolling on the lake; the largest lake trout measured 37 inches and weighed an estimated 18 pounds. Anglers also caught dozens of fish from the docks, including pike- minnow and perch. Anglers hailed from the upper Flathead Valley, Kalispell, Polson, Ronan, Eureka, Libby, and as far away as Anaconda, Victor, and Missoula.
The Fishing without Barriers Day is held annually to provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to get out on Flathead Lake and enjoy fishing with the experts. For many of the anglers, it is their only fishing experience for the year.
Anglers fished from charter boats and private craft; all boat captains volunteered their day for the event. Charter Boat Captains included Brent Persinger and Jeff Rach of Flathead Lake Charters, Bob Orsua, Matt McComb of MoFisch Charters, Dusty Bagley of Bagley Guide Service, Mike Howe and Clay Anderson of A-Able Charters, Tim Shattuck of Flathead Monster Charters, Woods Bay Charters with Jerry Landskron. Private boat captains include: Dan Hartwell, John Duncan, Ken Clawson, Chuck Williams, Jens Gran, Jerry Mahugh, Daryle Handy, Bob Seccombe, Bob Syvrud, Mike and Judy Rensmon, and Jim Vashro.
Barry Schrammeck, and Diane and Randy Williams of Woods Bay RV Park and Campground provided the facility for the barbeque and celebration. Doug Averill and Jim Frissell made available Hidden Harbor where boats were launched. The Montana Game Wardens Association served as a major sponsor. Jerry Howard of the FWP Crossing the Barriers Committee organized the food, donations, and other aspects of the event. He also baked 50 dozen chocolate chip cookies, which have become an event trademark.At a post-fishing barbeque, about 200 people, including anglers, helpers, and family members, enjoyed a gourmet lunch and fish fry. A casting contest, where anglers attempted to hook fish models with casting plugs, proved to be popular as more than 50 people participated to win prizes. Jeff Rach and the Badrock Canyon Band provided music.
The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Crossing the Barriers Committee coordinated the event. Jerry Howard serves as chairman and main organizer. Also helping out were FWP’s Garland Hamilton, Chuck Bartos, Wes Oedekovan, Jon Obst, Nathan Reiner, Frank Bowen, Mark Deleray, Amber Steed, and many others.
Those donating to or helping at the event included: Montana Game Wardens Association, Snappys Sport Senter, Sportsman Ski Haus, Flathead Lake Lodge-Doug Averill, Glacier Bank, Flathead Beverage, Fun Beverage, Super 1 Foods, Coke, Pepsi, Bigfork Nursing Home, Bigfork Harvest Foods, Carmen West, Farm to Market Pork, Rosauers, Ice Chest, Inc., Les Schwab Tire Centers, Albertsons, Costco, Dawson Enterprises, Kalispell Medical, Carmen Wyman, Frito Lay, H. A. Held, Dan Hoffman from Smiths and his family (provided deep fat fryer and cooked), Farm to Market Pork, Meadow Gold, Sue Crawford, Rosauers, Coffee Traders, Schwans Ice Cream, Issac House from Victor, MT, Stampede Meats, Culligans, Baskin and Robbins, National Guard, Valley Ford, Eisinger Motors, Norco, J. D. Morrell, Northern Care, Fred Nazarian from Maplewood MN, Kelly Tolman, Lloyd Wagner, Troy Fraley, Dana Fraley, and many other volunteers and family members.
(Report by John Fraley – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)