2017 Spring Mack Days on Flathead Lake sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes began March 17th and will end May 14th. Anglers of all ages are competing for Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded the last day of the event. There are several ways to win in the event. Every lake trout entry entitles the angler to a ticket that goes into the lottery drawing. Catching a tagged fish that are valued from $10,000 to $100 give anglers another incentive and chance to win, and once an anglers total reaches eleven entries they begin to accumulate bonus dollars. Go to www.mackdays.com for information on the rules, bonus amounts, prizes, safety, fish ID, etc.
The 2017 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event began with a record number of first day entries-3,030 lake trout were turned in. The fish were biting most of the day with Danner Shima reporting six times having double catches-two fish at a time and having his total by 1045 in the morning. Jigging in water from 180-240 feet was the most popular method in several different areas of the lake. The total number beats the old record set the first day of the 2016 event by 644 lake trout. There were eleven anglers who caught the limit of 100 fish per day-Danner, Ryan-Kalispell, and Mike Shima-Polson, Felix Gauci-Stevensville, Scott Bombard-Missoula, Michael-Lonepine, Steven-Four Lakes, WA, and Jerry Benson-Plains, Jason Mahlen, Terry Krogstad, and Travis Banyai-Kalispell. Saturdays catch totaled 1,622 with five limits-Scott Bombard, Steven Benson, Michael Benson, Sam Cusker-Whitefish, and Felix Gauci. Sunday entries ended with two anglers who had a perfect 300 weekend-Scott Bombard and Michael Benson ended with the 300 scores. Tied close behind with 294 entries are Felix Gauci and Steven Benson, Sam Cusker is in fifth with 282, 6th Jason Mahlen-235, 7th Ryan Shima-208, 8th Danner Shima-190, 9th Terry Krogstad with 175, 10th Larry Karper-Florence and Travis Banyai with 174. The weekend ended with it being a record setting weekend of 6,127 lake trout entries caught and entered by 103 anglers. Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event.
Catching $100 tagged fish were Brian Hodgson-Kalispell x 2,Ralph Johnson-Columbia Falls, Bernd Albrecht-Polson, Tony Incashola-St. Ignatius, Alex Betz-Kalispell, Tim Iverson-Bigfork, Michael Benson, Morgan Amdahl-Kalispell, Steve Biere-Butte, Scott Mahlen-Kalispell, Brandon Gilleard-St. Ignatius, Scott Bombard, Shannon Brownlee-Florence, Kevin Guillory-Kalispell, Gary Perleberg-Kalispell, Larry Karper, and Felix Gauci. There were two $200 tagged fish caught by Ken Morse of Florence and Mike Shima of Polson.
Julie Woolley of Manteca, CA leads the ladies with 54, 2nd Julie Vacca of Missoula-52, 3rd-Brandy Hilde of Whitefish-31, Connie Jones-Kalispell and Janine Kowalski of Missoula are tied for 4th and 5th.
13-17 Category leader is Tyler Vauga of Kalispell with 110, 2nd Matt Guckenberg Jr.-Kalispell with 42, 3rd Leah Benyai of Kalispell with 17, Shelbie Guckenberg is 4th with 11, Dylan Hodgson is 5th with 3.
12 and Under leader is Rylan Koch of Butte with 33, Abby Hodgson of Kalispell-6, and Logan Long of Columbia Falls with 3.
The famous 70 and Over leader is Larry Karper with 174, 2nd Bill Violette-Missoula-52, 3rd-Gary Perelberg 4th -46, Bernd Albrecht 5th with 40.
Mack Days are used as a tool to reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake and increase the number of bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout numbers which are native to the waters and are part of the cultural history of the tribes and the state of Montana.
Anglers are required to have an AIS boat inspection done before entering any fish. The inspections can be done in Pablo seven days a week from eight to six or by telephoning 406-270-3386 to arrange an inspection at Blue Bay.
(Report by Cynthia Benson; Feature photo via MackDays.com)