Montana Outfitter, tournament director and tournament angler Mike Howe has been leading the charge of the modern day ice angler in NW Montana since 2005 when he co-founded the Perch Assault Tournament Series. Based heavily on the success of the infamous Trap Attacks, this tournament changed the way competitive anglers approached ice angling. Thus began an ice fishing revolution that closely followed the techniques and subsequent successes anglers in the Midwest had been realizing for the previous decade, following the path that Dave Genz had been blazing for the previous twenty years.
Partnering with Kalispell, MT retailer Snappy Sport Senter, and fishing department manager Chancy Jeschke, Howe was experiencing the importance of mobility and electronics and spreading that word through seminars and on ice demo days to an ever expanding group of anglers eager to experience the benefits that these two were preaching, and to purchase the products that made them more successful. Educating these anglers, and learning from each other when the standard thought didn’t apply, Howe, Jeschke and other NW ice anglers began to prove they could go anywhere and catch fish through the ice. Today, the Perch Assault tournament has been expanding into other states, and growing every year, paying out over $200,000 in cash and prizes over the last 13 years. Clam Outdoors has been an important ally, sponsoring the series since day one!
During this time, Mike was traveling east to the St Paul ice show each winter, establishing relationships within the industry, expanding his knowledge base, discovering new product and techniques and bringing this knowledge back to his home base. By 2008, he was guiding Lake Trout charters on Flathead Lake for Mo Fisch Charters, and even running limited ice fishing trips for his then Outfitter and mentor, Bob Orsua, owner of Mo Fisch. In 2011, while still serving as a Postmaster in the USPS, he bought the existing outfitting business known as A Able Charters, and retired from the Post Office in 2012 to fish full time.
After purchasing his own outfit, he and wife Cindy began a two year run producing and hosting their own weekly radio show, Flathead Outdoors, all with the goal of informing NW outdoors enthusiasts not just about what opportunities existed, but how best to take advantage of them. As Mike traveled across the state conducting seminars at retailers and outdoor shows, it became obvious that the majority of state retailers were not giving their ice angling customers the products or the experience they were craving.
In 2013 and 2014, Mike operated a mobile tackle store called “The Tackle Truck. He purchased $40,000 worth of ice fishing product, crammed a 24’ trailer with electronics, fish traps, clothing, rods, reels, tip-ups and tackle and traveled to 5 cities, setting up in leased parking lots and providing the products anglers had been purchasing online. Both years were sellouts, and in 2014, local brick and mortar stores took notice and began to service the ice anglers with the products and services they were looking for and after the 2014 season, Mike was able to retire the Tackle Truck concept, mission accomplished.
Taking profits from the success of the Tackle Truck, Mike created a new tournament series called “Ice Duels”, a catch and release, match fishing concept on the ice. Contestants squared off against each other on pre-drilled “courts”, each with a scorekeeper, in a double elimination format, scoring one point for each fish caught, and rewarding a champion after nine rounds of competition. Events were held in ND, SD, MN, MT and WI. Along the way, he and his wife Cindy participated in several NAIFC events, proving that they were a formidable team , taking a second place at the 2013 West Yellowstone event, and a twelfth place at the 2014 Big Stone event.
While the Ice Duels concept proved very popular, traveling around 5 states in the winter, while still trying to run a guiding business proved just too much and the series went on hiatus after 2015. But in the process, Mike continued to meet some of the best anglers in the ice fishing business, maintaining existing and forging new relationships, all along the way. Since 2006, Mike had traveled all across the ice belt, multiple times, while working with hundreds of anglers, and dozens of companies. But deep down inside, he realized that while he had experienced great success in some areas, in others he had missed the mark. Being independent and blazing his own trail in many areas, there was still something missing.
For 2017 Mike established five goals for himself. One was to partner up with a likeminded, hardcore tournament angler, with the goal of winning the Montana NAIFC event, and he did so, winning the $10,000 first prize at the West Yellowstone NAIFC event in January with co angler Jason Mundel. Another was to take the Perch Assault outside of MT, and in February of 2017 a Perch Assault event was conducted at Lake Cascade, Idaho, possibly the premier Perch Lake in the US, and it was a resounding success. Third was to grow and expand his outfitting operation, accomplished by contracting with a lodge in Fort Peck, and the unexpected opportunity to purchase rival company Mo Fisch Charters.
Lastly, was to accept Ice Team Manager Matt Johnson’s invitation to join the Clam/Ice Team Pro Staff for 2018. After joining the Ice Team Pro’s at Devils Lake, ND for the 2017 Ice Team University, Mikes mind was made up, joining the Ice Team would be the culmination of more than a decade of working to advance ice fishing across the Western Ice Belt, with the resources of the strongest team in the industry now available to help him continue that quest.
“From teaching others the joys of catching their first fish through the ice, to helping experienced anglers advance their success, and to running what is one of the oldest and finest competitive ice angling series in the US, I live to watch others succeed on the ice. Testing and developing products and techniques and being on the cutting edge of the next important advancements helps me to achieve that, and there is no better place in the industry for me to further my goals than with Clam Outdoors and the Ice Team. I look forward to meeting other Ice Team members across the US and to growing the team in my corner of the ice belt”.
Mike Howe, along with his wife Cindy, owns and operates Howe’s Fishing in Kalispell, MT which includes A Able Charters and Mo Fisch Charters, offering year round guided fishing in Montana from Fort Peck to Flathead Lake, and can operate on hundreds of other lakes in Montana. With ten guides, and over a dozen boats available for open water fishing, along with incredible opportunities to ice fish across this vast state, no other fishing charter company in the west can compare! He can be reached at www.howesfishing.com
, or by calling 406.257.5214