2015 Spring Mack Days
The count-down is on for the 2015 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event. The event begins March 20th-very few days to go before lines are hitting the water. Fish on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for nine weeks until May 17th -anglers best 18 days from the Friday-Sunday fishing days will count for the top angler prizes, top youth, ladies, 70 & over, weekend, small fish, large fish, captains, and the lottery. There will be 51 total fishing days in 2015 Spring Event because new to this event will be Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday added fishing days which will count for the bonus and tagged fish only. Totals will be kept separate until the last day and then added together for the bonus amounts at the conclusion of the event.
Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded to anglers at the end of the event in lottery dollars, prizes, merchandise, tagged fish, and bonus amounts. Mack Days Fishing Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and are used as a management tool to reduce numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. All it takes is one fish/ticket to win.
There is a new $10,000 tagged lake trout plus 3-$5,000, 5-$1,000 and over 5000 with values from $500-$100. Each event the higher dollar fish are tagged a week before it begins. Lucky angler Felix Gauci of Stevensville caught the one and only $10,000 tagged lake trout in the 2014 Fall Event.
Enter at www.mackdays.com on the entry form under the events tab. Entries will be taken until the last day. Qualify for one $200 prize if your entry is received on or before March 18th. Entries can also be sent directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name, address, telephone #, and age group.
Check in stations will be the same as in the past at Somers, Wayfarers, Big Arm, Salish Point, and Blue Bay. Go to the website for updates on times.
Weather conditions change very fast on Flathead Lake-always be aware of what is happening and think safety first.
ICE, ICE, ICE-layer ice and fish in the coolers. Internal temperature of the fish has to be at 41 degrees for them to be donated.
We ask that everyone check out bull trout identification before participating in the event. Go to the www.mackdays.com website or Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks website to check out bull trout AND lake trout ID. Ask for information-we would be glad to provide you with ID brochures. By-catch of the smaller bull trout is higher in the Spring Events than the Fall events. They are very difficult to distinguish from the smaller lake trout. The spots on the side of the fish are very pale and do not show much color-red, orange, or pink or even no color at all. Look at the tail and spread it out. Bull trout will not have as deep a V in the tail but some will fool you with a slight V. You then need to look at the spotting along the back from the topline of the fish. Spots that are rounded and evenly placed indicate a bull trout. The larger bull trout coloring can also be very pale-no orange or pink spots may show. Again, look at the tail and the spots on the topline of the fish. You have to look at each fish carefully. IF YOU HAVE ANY DOUBT ABOUT THE ID OF THE FISH PUT IT BACK. DO NOT CHANCE TURNING IN A BULL TROUT. We are required to report bull trout violations to the proper authorities and other agencies. Many contestants have received fines and if the number of bull trout killed becomes too large it may jeopardize the future of the contests. Use separate coolers to keep track of your fish if you are fishing with another person.
YOUNG BULL TROUT-IF YOU ARE IN DOUBT ABOUT THE ID of any fish PUT IT BACK IN THE WATER
Adult bull trout pictured below-the colored spots may not be visible-but the uniformity of the spots-look along the topline of the fish-tells an angler to look closely. The tail does not have a deep V-spread the tail out and look. There are white leading edges on the fins. The head is broader. If in doubt about the ID of a fish-put it back in the water. No spots on the dorsal fin.
Lake trout photo below. The lake trout tail has a deeper V-spotting is not uniform. This fish has spots on the dorsal fin. The head is not so broad shaped.
Good luck everyone.
(Report by Cindy Bras-Benson * CSKT Natural Resources * Fisheries Program)