The fishing on Flathead Lake was phenomenal the first weekend of the 2013 Fall Mack Days Fishing Event. The weather was great for fishing and the anglers were catching. The total for the first weekend of the event was 2,114 lake trout entries. Mack Days are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Up to $125,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on November 17th. All it takes is one fish to win in the lottery style drawing for prizes from $1,000 to $200. Each fish an angler enters give them one ticket in the drawing. Once an angler reaches fifteen days they are limited by their average for tickets. Fridays total was 610, Saturday-745, and Sunday anglers turned in 759 lake trout. The same weekend in the 2012 Fall Event 1,494 lake trout were turned in.
Categories for other prizes are Ladies, Youth 12 & under and 13-17, Top 10 Anglers, Captains, Golden Anglers-70 and over, Weekend Prizes, Smallest and Largest Lake Trout, etc. Go to www.mackdays.com for information on the prizes categories. Once an angler reaches twenty lake trout entries they begin to receive bonus amounts depending on their totals at the end of the event.
There are over 4,000 tagged lake trout with values from $10,000-$100. Catching a tagged fish is part of the excitement of fishing Mack Days. Anglers are able to catch them from shore and from the boats. Turning in a fish at Blue Bay caught from shore- angler Kevin Dupuis-Polson- was pleased to learn he had won $100. Tagged fish have the adipose fin clipped and are scanned when entered. Other $100 tagged lake trout were turned in by Gary Stolz-Missoula-x2, Max Martz-Corvallis, John Gauci-Florence, Tim Mooney-Missoula, Phil Meredith-Kalispell-x3, Bob Syvrud-Polson, Danny Smith-Hot Springs, Mike Benson-Lonepine-x2, and Shawn Madsen-Polson. Bill Swaney-Missoula and Bill McIntyre-Conrad turned in $200 tagged fish. Information from tagged the fish is used for estimating population and also movement of the fish.
Leading the lady anglers is Jeanee Mooney of Missoula with 57, second is Deana Knipe-Polson with 42, 3rd- Kim McMillie-Ronan-15, 4th-Debbie Maze-Kalispell-14, and 5th-Laurie Kreis-Huson-8.
Mike Benson of Lonepine ended the first weekend with 181, Roger Dilts of Polson-172-2nd, Max Martz-Corvallis-171-3rd, Danny Smith-Hot Springs-148-4th, Scott Bombard-Missoula-142-5th, John Gauci-Florence-115-6th, Tim Mooney-Missoula-111-7th, Phil Meredith-Kalispell-100-8th, Larry Ashwell-Missoula-79-9th, and Larry Karper-Florence-71-10th.
Eric Sams in the 13-17 category turned in 27 and Tom McDonald of Nirada turned in 5. Dawson Dumont of Charlo turned in a lake trout in the 12 & under group.
Golden anglers are led by Glenn Hoffman Missoula with 25, 2nd- Ralph Johnson of Columbia Falls with 17, 3rd-Jens Gran of Polson-9, Leonard Lewis-Plains and Jim Hoover-Whitefish each have 6.
Entries are taken until the last day of the event. Enter at any time to get into the drawings or to have a chance at catching that $10,000-(5)$5,000, (10)$1,000 or the over 4,000 other tagged lake trout. Mack Days Events are used as a management tool to slowly reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. We remind everyone to always think safety first when fishing the lake. Have a plan-let someone know when to expect you to return, use your PFD’s-keep informed on weather changes and watch when you are out there for signs a storm may be approaching.
Go to the Mack Days website www.mackdays.com for information about the event prizes and bonuses, to view the DVD clips on fishing for lake trout, check on bull trout ID, see maps of Flathead Lake, etc. Telephone 406-883-2888 ex. 7294 for other information or questions.
(Report by Cynthia Bras; Cover photo: Ryan Shima with 16#er via mackdays.com)