A successful 2015 Spring Mack Days concluded May 17th after fifty one total fishing days on Flathead Lake. Jason Mahlen of Kalispell won the Spring Fishing Event for the third straight year in a row. Jason fished twenty five out of twenty seven weekend days, which were used to decide top anglers and other prizes-Tues-Thurs (24 days) are added to anglers totals for bonus amounts. He turned in 1,519 lake trout entries and finished with a 74.6 eighteen day average which is a new record average for the weekend events. Mahlens daily average was 60.7 which is the best of the three years he has won. The 2014 event had him winning with a total of 1,805 entries over 33 days with a 70.4 eighteen day average and 54.6 for every day (33)-those numbers were up from 2013 when his total was 1,635 with a 65.8 eighteen day average and 48 for 34 days fished. Ryan Shima of Kalispell came in second with 1,360 entries and a 66.5 eighteen day average, 3rd-Danner Shima with 1,227 and 62.2, 4th-Bob Turner of Columbia Falls-855 and 62.2, 5th-Mike Shima-Polson-880 and 46.0, 6th-Steven Benson from Four Lakes, WA with 870 and 43.7, 7th-Felix Gauci of Stevensville with 846 and 42.8, 8th-Scott Bombard-Missoula with 835 and 40.5, 9th-Terry Krogstad-Kalispell-855 and 40.2, and 10th-Mike Benson of Lonepine with 741 and 39.1. Many of the anglers have added days during the week. Go to www.mackdays.com to see the complete list of the totals for each angler.
Mack Days are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The events are used as a management tool to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake to help increase the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout populations which were the dominate fish in the lake for many years. Up to $225,000 was sponsored in this event by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Awards and prizes were given out on the last day May 17th at the Blue Bay Campground.
Julie Vacca won first in the ladies category with 247, 2nd place went to Nicole Peters of Missoula with 186, Debbie Pike of Polson came in third with 183, LeAnne Guillory of Kalispell was fourth with 152, and youth lady angler Abby Hodgson of Kalispell won fifth with 119.
Danner Shima was the leader in the 13-17 category but opted to compete in the adult top ten group. That gave the first place win to Kobe Cox of Charlo with 243, 2nd-Keaton Turner-Columbia Falls with 169, 3rd-Garett Vaughan-Charlo with 144, 4th-Christopher Shae-Kalispell with 136, and 5th-Jade Smith of Charlo with 115.
Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell won the 12 & Under group with 220, 2nd place went to Abby Hodgson of Kalispell with 119, and 3rd-Aaron Lang of Kalispell with 33.
The Golden Angler award went to Larry Karper of Florence with 622, 2nd Jim Hoover-Whitefish-with 283, 3rd-Conn Hodgson-Kalispell with 141, Ralph Johnson-Columbia Falls was fourth with 95, and Rodney Cluphf of Missoula was fifth with 66.
Largest fish was turned in by Bob Turner of Columbia Falls. It measured 41 inches and weighed in at 24.4 pounds. Smallest fish was won by John Gauci of Florence with a 95mm lake trout and Mike Benson of Lonepine with a 172mm laker.
Total fish caught during the event came to 34,179. Windy days slowed the fishing down a few days on the water causing the total to slide down the last few weeks. Wind is a huge factor when fishing on Flathead Lake. Several days the wind came from one direction and would move to another causing an angler to have lower fish counts or no count at all. Anglers spend up to 13 long hard hours a day on the water during the events. It is their hard work and dedication that makes the events successful. Each and every one of them plays a huge role in helping to reach the total numbers needed to make a difference in the future of the fisheries of the lake. The best day for fish totals was the first day on March 20th. There were 1,825 lake trout turned in-lowest day was April 11th with a total of 14 entries. Entrants in the 2015 event totaled 795 up from the 2014 event of 726 but down from 868 in 2013 and 1010 in 2012.
Have a great summer and tight lines everyone.
(Report by Cynthia Benson)