HOWE'S FISHING: Planning for winter fishing tournaments

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Itís mid-October and we have snow on the ground, lows in the 20s for the last couple of nights and a forecast that looks like we face more of the same. Sounds like itís time for me to go do a little Florida Keys fishing.

But first, a little update on some important happenings around the valley.

I have been talking about ice fishing some in my last couple of columns, and now itís all making sense, huh? Even if this weather doesnít stick around (and it probably wonít) itís a strong reminder that it is right around the corner. Ice fishing tournament promoters recently learned if their permits were accepted or denied, and I am happy to say that all the events for Northwest Montana were approved, including a couple new tournaments: the Wild West Panfish Trail at Blanchard Lake, the Sophie Lake Fish Derby, and an event I am putting on, the Kalispell Ice Klassic, a two-day, two-lake, multi-species event that will challenge the best anglers like never before.

Along with all the other tournament directors, I can say without a doubt that none of these events would be possible without sponsors, both locally and nationally. Not too many anglers show up at a tournament without some expectation that they are going to win something. Our Perch Assault tournaments for example have set a standard for some incredible cash and merchandise payouts due to our long standing relationships with some of the best companies in the industry, as well as local organizations like the Flathead Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited of Montana.

If you have fished just about any of the local tournaments and derbies, you have seen hundreds and hundreds of rod and reel combos given away to kids, all purchased by this group. In fact, close to $40,000 worth of rods and reels have been donated to local kids fishing groups over the last 10 years.

If you have fished any of the Perch Assault events, you know all the plaques are donated by them. Donations to our local Pine Grove fishing pond for paving, sidewalks, tables etc., the boat ramp on Church Slough, new docks at Blanchard and Horseshoe Lakes and a new T-section at Smith Lake are all things that this local chapter have provided. I can never thank the members enough for all they have donated to the anglers (past present and future) of this valley. We are proud to say they have supported the Perch Assault series since 2006.

There are dozens and dozens of folks behind the scenes who make these events happen, for the enjoyment of the participants, and not just fishing tournaments.

Our community recently lost the founder of one of the most successful fishing events in this area for the last 21 years, Fishing without Barriers, with the passing of Jerry Howard. Jerry was the heart and soul of this event and rallied some of the most tireless volunteers in the valley each year to provide opportunity for those elderly and disabled who might not get any other chance all year. We are going to miss you Jerry but we will carry on and make you proud.

I would like to invite all the readers of this column to tune into 600 KGEZ every Thursday for weekly fishing info during the ďNach on SportsĒ show, which airs Monday to Friday from 3-5 p.m. I will be reporting on fish and game and other outdoor activities and will offer an expanded version of this column the weeks it runs.

I hope youíll join Anthony and me each week, and Iíll see you on the water.

Howe runs Howes Fishing/A Able Charters. Contact him at www.howesfishing.com or 257-5214 or Mike@aablefishing.com

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