A total of 75 anglers with disabilities participated in the 21st annual Fishing Without Barriers Day on Flathead Lake on June 12. The anglers caught a total of 15 lake trout from fishing boats trolling on the lake; the largest lake trout measured 27 inches and weighed 6 pounds. Some of the youngest anglers caught the largest fish. Ten year old Troy Dixon caught the 6-pounder, and the McQueen sisters (Olivia, Meghan, and Joanna) caught a 3 pound, 24-inch lake trout.
Anglers also caught dozens of fish from the docks, including pikeminnow 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 17 charter boats and private craft; all boat captains volunteered their day for the event. Charter Boat Captains included Tom Cobianco, Stacy Ross and Jeff Rach of Flathead Lake Charters, Bob Orsua, Tom Cobianco, and Matt McComb of MoFisch Charters; Dusty Bagley of Bagley Guide Service; Mike Howe and Clay Anderson of A-Able Charters; Tim Shattuck and Sam Birky of Flathead Monster Charters; Woods Bay Charters with Jerry Landskron, Hank Campbell. Private boat captains included: Jerry Mahugh, Bob and June Syvrud, Mike and Judy Rensmon, Keo Stemberger, and Jim Vashro.
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.
Barry Schrammeck, 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, chairman 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. Dawn Marie assisted Jerry in fundraising, prize donations and record keeping.
The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Crossing the Barriers Committee coordinated the event. Also helping out were FWP’s Garland Hamilton, Chuck Bartos, Ron Howell, Perry Brown, Nathan Reiner, Amber Steed, Durae Daniels, and many others.
Those donating to or helping at the event included: Montana Game Wardens Association, Snappys Sport Senter (donated prizes), Sportsman Ski Haus (donated prizes), Flathead Lake Lodge-Doug Averill, Glacier Bank, Flathead Beverage, Fun Beverage, Super 1 Foods, Toyota, McDonalds, Arbys, Coke, Pepsi, Bigfork Nursing Home, Bigfork Harvest Foods, Farm to Market Pork, Rosauers, Albertsons, 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, Colter Coffee, Schwans Ice Cream, Dawson Enterprises, Creative Sales Co., Issac House from Victor, MT, Stampede Meats, Culligans, Baskin and Robbins, National Guard, Norco, J. D. Morrell, Northern Care, Kelly Tolman, Lloyd Wagner, Dana Fraley, and many other volunteers and family members. Also helping out were Jim and Katie Landis and crew from Calvary Baptist Church in Victor. Fred Nazarian from Maplewood MN provided dozens of tackle boxes for anglers. Cabellas provided hats and volunteers.
Thanks to everyone who donated and helped in any way with this event!
(Report by Montana FWP)