The 17th annual Fishing Without Barriers Day on Flathead Lake came off successfully today with mixed sunshine and clouds. About 100 anglers with disabilities caught about 65 lake trout ranging from a few pounds to more than 25 pounds in weight. The two largest lake trout measured 39 inches in length. One angler planned on getting a 39-inch, 25 pound trout mounted. Many of the lake trout were filleted and included in the fish fry. A number of “slot fish” ranging from 32-34 inches were caught and released.
Anglers fished from Montana Charterboat Association boats and private craft. At the barbeque, about 250 people, including anglers, helpers, and family members, enjoyed a gourmet luncheon and fish fry. Anglers hailed from the upper Flathead Valley, Kalispell, Polson, Ronan, Eureka, and as far away as Missoula.
Barry Schrammeck of Woods Bay RV Park and Campground provided the facility for the barbeque. Doug Averill 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 40 dozen chocolate chip cookies, which have become an event trademark.
More than 20 boats were provided to host anglers. Charter Boat Captains included Brent Persinger of Flathead Lake Charters, Jerry Landskron of Woods Bay Charters, Jim Landwehr of Glacier Fishing Charters, Jess Michelson of Flathead Lake Cruises, Matt McComb, Bob Orsua, Mike Howe, Tom Cobianco, and others of Mo Fisch Charters. Doug Averill provided a boat from Flathead Lake Lodge. Other Boat Captains included: Dan Hartwell, , Gary Lapka,, Chuck Williams, Jess Michelson, Jens Gran, Jerry Mahugh, Willie McNeill ,Daryle Handy, Bob Seccombe, and Jim Vashro. Many other volunteers assisted the boat captains with the anglers.
Those donating to the event included: Montana Game Wardens Association, Sportsman and Ski Haus, Flathead Lake Lodge- Doug Averill, Glacier Bank, Apple Barrel, Fun Beverage, Super 1 Foods, Coke, Bigfork Nursing Home, Flathead Valley Orthopedic Center, Bigfork IGA, Costco, Woods Bay Market, Smiths, Frito Lay Chips, Meadowgold, Snappys Sport Senter, Farm to Market Pork, and Safeway.
The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Crossing the Barriers Committee coordinated the event. Jerry Howard serves as chairman and main organizer. Other volunteers included Ilene Howard, Frank Landis, Jim Landis, Katie Landis, Heather Fraley, Troy Fraley, Brock Reiner, Joe Hagengruber, Karyn Jones, the staff from the Lakeview Care Center, and many others. Also helping out were FWP’s Jim Vashro, Garland Hamilton, Chuck Bartos, Matt Heaton, Lee Anderson, Perry Brown, Ben Wiersma, Nathan Reiner, Dave Hagengruber, and many others.
Jeff Rach and the Badrock Canyon Band provided bluegrass music for the event. Band members included: Jeff Rach (banjo); Todd Noble (Guitar); and Steve Kendrick (base).
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.
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