(Above photo courtesy of A Able Fishing Charters and Tours)
Kalispell angler Jason Mahlen continues to expand his lead in the 2013 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event. Jason turned in totals of 60, 55, & 50 over three days of the second weekend of the event for a total of 331 lake trout and 55.1 for a daily six day average. Following Mahlen is Mike Benson of Lonepine with 207 entries-25, 63, & 36 for the weekend and a 34.5 six day average. Craig Morigeau Polson angler is third with 205-63, 27, & 25 and an average of 41 for five days. Steven Benson of Four Lakes, Washington is in fourth place with a total of 189-22, 40, & 42-and a 31.5 average over six days. Fifth place belongs to Dean Vaughan a Charlo angler with 158 and a 39.5 average for four days. Sixth place-Scott Mahlen-Kalispell-150, seventh place-Stanley Ross-Kalispell-147, eighth place-Jason North-Stevensville-138, ninth place-Garett Vaughan-Charlo-135, and tenth place is held by Bryan Long-Columbia Falls with 129 entries. A total of 5,114 lake trout have been entered in the event so far. First weekend total was 2,223 and second weekend total was 2,891. The top ten anglers in the event are place by their best 18 day average out of the thirty four days of the event. Scott Bombard a favorite and one of the top anglers will be taking some time off –not his choice-we wish him well and hope to see him back on the water soon.
Mack Days Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and are a management tool developed to implement the Flathead Lake & River Co-management Plan (co-plan). The events are used as a tool to slowly suppress non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake to benefit native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. The prospects for future contests will be determined by the outcome of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be completed this spring. If you enjoy Mack Days, it is important to follow and participate in this process because the future of these events is dependent upon the final decision to come out of the EIS. The alternative selected in the EIS will determine whether suppression efforts continue and how much suppression is necessary. Each suppression alternative includes an ordered progression of all possible tools to harvest lake trout. Mack Days is always the first tool and additional tools would only be employed if and when Mack Days harvest does not reach the selected target harvest level. The EIS was only initiated because it was determined that Mack Days alone was not sufficient to meet the goals of the co-plan. Therefore if none of the “action” alternatives is chosen Mack Days would end because the monetary investment would no longer be justifiable. Please get involved to help determine the future of Mack Days and management of the Flathead Lake fishery. Monitor the Mack Days website for updates on the EIS process.
Up to $150,000 in Cash and Prizes sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will be awarded to anglers at the conclusion of the event. Fish Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays until May 10th and then it is ten straight days of lake trout fishing until the last day of the event May 19th. Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event. There are several ways to win-smallest fish, largest fish, most fish, ladies category, youth categories, over 70, captains prizes, weekend prizes. March 29th will be the first day of the “Heaviest Bucket of Fish” category. Anglers may enter as a boat team or a single angler can enter as a team. Mark your heaviest four lake trout before coming through the door to enter them. They will be put into a bucket and a weight will be taken. Heaviest bucket of fish will win $200. There are two other Bucket of Fish Days April 20th and May 5th that are part of this category. Overall prizes will be given at the conclusion of the event for the Bucket Day Category. Go to www.mackdays.com for more information.
A $10,000 tagged lake trout along with five $5,000, ten-$1,000, and over 4,000 with values from $100 to $500 have been released in the lake. The tagged lake trout have been released in all parts of Flathead Lake with the higher valued fish being tagged in the two weeks prior to the event beginning. Past years higher valued tags are changed to smaller amounts as new ones take their place. Catching tagged lake trout over the second weekend were-Bryan Long(Columbia Falls)$500, Larry Karper(Florence) and Garett Vaughan(Charlo)$200, Brandon Gilleard(St. Ignatius), Dean Vaughan(Charlo), Brian Hodgson(Kalispell), Bob Stewart(Kalispell)X2, Craig Morigeau, & Kevin Burns(Kalispell)-$100.
Susan Martin of Polson leads the ladies with 51, second place is held by Nicole Peters-Missoula with 31, third place Julie Vacca-Florence-27, and Tracy Powers-Missoula with 26.
Youth leaders (13-17) are Kobe Cox-Charlo with 46,Connor Kowalski-Florence-44, Danner Shima-Kalispell-39, Brady Weible-Charlo-38, and Tanner Murry-Columbia Falls-31. Garett Vaughan (12 & under) expands his lead to 135, Abby Hodgson-Kalispell is second with 6, Cole Gilleard-St. Ignatisu-4, Matthew Guckenburg Jr. Kalispell -3, Dyland Hodgson-Kalispell-3, & Boone Gilleard-St. Ignatius-2.
Weather during the second weekend was cold with four inches of snow covering the ground at Blue Bay on Saturday morning. The anglers still went out with many putting in 10-12 hours each day. Everyone is ready for warmer temperatures, smoother waters, and sunny skies. Fish On!!