Well, it’s official. Spring Mack Days is now in the books as they say, and it was another successful event on Flathead Lake, which is becoming great fishery for anglers from all over Western Montana and beyond.
This year’s Mack Days derby, which has lottery-based prize format, paid high dividends to a young angler that put in her time in fishing the derby. Aubree Benson, of Missoula, who fished every day of the derby except for one Friday and one Sunday, walked away on Saturday with $3,750.
Not bad, considering she won $3500 of the prize money in two separate drawings. The remaining $250 came from catching and entering the smallest lake trout, which came in at 7.25 inches long.
One would have to say luck was on her side. After all, she was in competition with 295 other anglers including her husband Chad and father-in-law Jerry Benson.
I ended up entering 240 fish this year, said Aubree, I would fish with Jerry on Friday then Chad would bring our boat up Friday night after his week ended with his job at the Forest Service so we could fish Saturday and Sunday.
It seems that fishing runs in the Benson family. In fact, their combined winnings from the derby totaled $4,200 when you add in Jerrys $350 and his brother Steves $100.
We fished most of the time east of Bird Island in 180-210 feet of water, reported Aubree.
Originally from Utah, she met Chad, a Montana native ,about five years ago and they fell for each other hook, line and sinker. Fishing just comes naturally for Aubree as she graduated with a degree in fish biology from the University of Montana and will be employed by the Forest Service.
What does Aubree plan on doing with the winnings?
I don’t know, but it is starting to burn a hole in my pocket, she said.
The top angler this year was Marty Noyd of Missoula. Noyd, who fishes with his boy Keegan, entered 266 lake trout.
The largest lake trout was caught and then released by Stanley Ross of Kalispell.
There were 8,006 lake trout entered into the Spring Mack days this year.
Both the anglers competing and the number of fish entered were new records for the event. For a complete list of the winners of the more than $12,000 in prizes and cash that was awarded go to www.montanaoutdoor.com.
I just got word from that anglers were catching bucket loads of perch last weekend, said Dick Zimmer of Pablo in a phone call to me Monday morning.
The bite mainly takes place in east Polson Bay on Flathead Lake.
It also appears that the lake level is starting to come up a little after be drawn down in anticipation of a good spring runoff.
The boat ramp is now useable near the Kwatuqknuk Resort as well as the ramps at Blue Bay and Yellow Bay.