Nearly 600 anglers competed for the $1,000 first-place prize in the 2004 Great Montana Mack Attack last weekend on Flathead Lake.
The big prize went to the largest lake trout over 36 inches long and was taken by Cameron Hockett, of Lakes, who caught a 30.58-pound laker that was 41.5 inches long despite the fact that Saturday and Sunday were two completely different days with regard to the weather.
On Saturday, a cold front blew in the area, bringing nighttime lightening and daytime winds with it. Sunday, on the other hand, was as beautiful a fishing day as you could find and it made for handling the boat and steel line used in fishing for lake trout more manageable.
Even though the weather on Saturday effected the fishing for most of the anglers, that was the day that Hockett caught the prize-winner.
“We were trolling steel line in about 100 feet of water on the mid-lake bar right outside of Angler Point,” said Hockett. “I fish the lake a lot and most of the time I use steel line. It seems to get the lure in front of the bigger fish.”
Hockett said catching the largest lake trout in the two-day derby was probably more luck than skill, but his experience on the lake helped in being in the right place at the right time. You can see a picture of the fish on www.montanaoutdoor.com.
Anglers ended up turning in 12 lake trout 36 inches and over during the derby.
In the 28-inch-and-under category, Mitch Weldele caught a 27 ¾ inch lake trout that weighed 8.92 pounds. Fred Earley, who had the largest fish for about a half a day on Saturday, came in second with a 7.84 pounder. Howard McKee caught a 7.17 pounder, Calvin Mishke caught a 7.15 pounder and Harry Hutchinson rounded out the top five places with a 7 pounder.
Jens Gran, my boy Harry and I came close to taking that category. Harry caught what we thought was a 28-inch lake trout that weighed just over 9 pounds. The official measurement ended up making the fish 29 inches long, however.
The Lake Superior whitefish fishing has been excellent recently on Flathead Lake and last weekend was no exception. The Big Arm, Elmo Bay, Rollins, The River Delta and Woods Bay areas were producing large numbers of whitefish.
Steve Drake, from Columbia Falls, caught the largest whitefish at 5.20 pounds. Jason Mahlen came in second with a 4.71 pounder and Shane Reece cashed in for third place at 4.39 pounds. The derby also awarded $200 for the largest pikeminnow caught and Mike Wiherski caught a 3.77-pounder to win.
“We are pleased with the turnout once again this year,” said Bob Lincoln, one of the tourney organizer and owner of Del’s Bar. “We are always looking for ways to make the annual tournament a bigger and better affair and everybody’s comments are welcome in trying to achieve that goal.”
The tourney will be scheduled the first weekend in August again next year. You can call Bob Lincoln at (406) 857-3351 with your comments or to get more information.