BIGFORK – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks hosts the Jerry Howard "Fishing Without Barriers Day on Flathead Lake each year, inviting anglers with disabilities to fish on charter boats provided by volunteers.
"Twenty-five years ago a couple of good guys, my dad, Jerry Howard and John Fraley decided to start a fishing day for some that are less fortunate than most of us and what we try and do is spread fishing for everybody," said lead organizer of the event, Frank Landis.
When Frank Landis’ Father Jerry Howard passed in 2016 he took the helm over organizing the event.
Landis says a broken back left his dad disabled but also taught him others had it worse off. "I promised him as long as I’m able there will be a fishing day," said Landis.
This marked the 25th year of the event and I’m told every year it just keeps getting bigger. But it’s about more than just fishing. More than 80 participated this year.
Landis says the day is made possible thanks to sponsors like Saddle Horn and Hidden Harbor, who donated the use of their facility and Charter Boat captains who donate their time and equipment for the day.
"We have a number of sponsors who have been with us for 25 years. All of the sporting goods stores, a lot of our grocery stores — of course the Charter Boat captains," said Landis. "But they’re donating their time and their equipment for an entire day to take out these people who only get a once in a year chance to do this."
Fishing Without Barriers is a program created by FWP in conjunction with the Montana Charter Boat Association and the Montana Warden’s Association.