2015 Fall Mack Days sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes began September 25th with three days of great fall fishing weather. The event does not end until November 15th. Anglers compete for Up to $150,000 in cash and prizes in the forty five day event. The events are used as a fisheries management tool to reduce numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout were historically for thousands of years the dominant fish of the lake. Populations of native fish have dramatically declined in Flathead Lake and across the state. For every lake trout turned in during the Mack Days Fishing Event anglers receive a ticket for the lottery style drawing on the last day of the event. All it takes is one lake trout entry to win.
There are several ways to win. Categories are available for ladies, youth under 12, youth 13-17, anglers over 70, and top ten anglers. Drawings are held for each weekend. Anglers are limited to two weekend wins. There are also captain’s prizes, largest fish, and smallest fish. Bucket Days are Friday 10/9, Saturday 10/24, and Sunday 11/8. Anglers compete for the heaviest bucket of fish. Their four largest fish fewer than 30 inches are placed in a bucket and weighed. Heaviest bucket wins $200.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have available a combined use fishing permit for the south half of Flathead Lake available to anglers for $13 a year. The permit is not applicable for any other use except for Flathead Lake fishing on the reservation portion.
The first weekend of the 2015 Fall Event anglers turned in a total of 2,395 lake trout entries. The 2014 Fall Event had 2,872 for a first weekend total and in the 2013 Fall Event a 2,115 lake trout total. Fridays total was 898, Saturday-842, and Sunday the total was 655. Leading the lake trout anglers is Mike Benson of Lonepine with 293 entries. Benson turned in perfect 100’s on Friday and Saturday. The limit on Flathead Lake is 100 per day. Sunday’s total was 93. The total is a weekend record for Benson and the event. Wes Shockley of Plains turned in a weekend total of 272 in the 2011 Fall Event. Jason Mahlen and Ryan Shima of Kalispell have had days of one hundred fish but not two in a row with a third high day. Terry Krogstad of Kalispell is in second place with 200. Krogstad turned in 86 on Friday which is a huge trolling day on the lake, 68 on Saturday, and 46 on Sunday. Trolling involves a moving boat with one or two lines out. When you catch a fish you are reeling in and still moving while keeping track of where your boat is going and how deep you are or you shut down and reel in both lines. Then you have to get going again and put both lines back out. Terry reported losing a few fish and not even being upset because he was glad for the break. Third place is held by Felix Gauci of Stevensville with 136, 4th and 5th -Bob Stewart of Kalispell-117 and Phil Meredith of Kalispell with 117, 6th and 7th -Stan Ross and Stacy Ross of Kalispell with 69, and 10th place-Larry Karper of Florence with 66.
Lady angler Laurie Kreiss of Florence has the lead with 37, 2nd Kim McMillie of Ronan with 21, 3rd-Julie Vacca of Florence-15, 4th-Nicole Garrett-Missoula-13, and 5th– Bobbi Hereford of Missoula with 9.
Tyler Varga of Kalispell and Ayden Tripp of Missoula are leading the 13-17 group with 6 each and Myles Tripp has 2. Ellyana Tripp of Missoula is 1st in the 12 & under category with 12, 2nd-Tyler Throop of Missoula-2, and 3rd-Makenna Garrett with one.
Julie Vacca of Florence has the smallest fish with a 194mm (7 ¾”) lake trout. Jim Hoover of Kalispell and Mike Benson are tied with 195mm lake trout entries. There is no large lake trout entry in the event. The large lake trout have to be over thirty six inches and over twenty four pounds to qualify.
Winning the first weekend drawings which were drawn Sunday evening was Mike Benson. Benson cannot win another weekend drawing-anglers are limited to two weekend drawings. His name was drawn two times for the two prizes of $300 and $200.
Entries are taken until the last day of the event. Go to www.mackdays.com for more information or telephone 406-270-3386.