Friday afternoon Kalispell angler Mike Shae turned his Mack Day lake trout entries at the Somers check in station and was surprised when told one of them had a adipose fin clip and could be tagged. He had not noticed the fin clip on any of his fish. The fish from the check in station were brought to Blue Bay. The lake trout was scanned and the beeper went off. Danner Shima witnessed the tag being looked up and called Shae who had been fishing in the same area as Danner. Staff was ready when Mike Shae answered the call and everyone yelled $1,000 tag but Shae could not hear or understand what was being said. Danner had to tell him what he had won. Every angler would like to be the one who catches one of the high dollar tagged fish and they are all happy when someone else does. There are four more $1,000 tagged lake trout-three $5,000, and one $10,000 tagged fish plus over 6,000 with values from $100 to $500 in Flathead Lake. Catching $100 tagged lake trout the past week were Jerry Benson of Plains, Ryan Shima, Mike Shima of Polson, Jeff Cox-Rollins, Morgan Amdahl-Kalispell, and Michael Benson.
Mack Days Fishing Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used as a tool to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded to the anglers at the conclusion of the event on May 14th. There are several ways to win. Enter one lake trout and receive a ticket that goes into the lottery drawing-prizes start at $1,000 and go down to $400. There are prizes for the largest lake trout over 36” and 24#’s. Smallest lake trout entries currently are held by Jim Kirwan of Missoula with a 183mm (7 ¼”) lake trout and tied with 185mm lake trout are Deb Amdahl and Chris Shae of Kalispell. There is also a ladies category, youth categories, over 70, weekend drawings, captains prizes, etc. Go to www.mackdays.com for information on the different ways to win, rules, fish ID, safety, and fishing tips.
A total of 17,300 lake trout entries have been received over the first four weeks of the event with five weeks left in the nine week-long event Anglers fish Tuesday-Thursday for bonus amounts and tagged fish and they fish Friday-Sunday for the competition prizes, bonuses, and tagged fish. Entries are taken up until the last day of the event-no entry fee. All it takes is one fish to qualify for the drawings. Friday was the lowest total day for the weekend with 675 entries. Wild wind gusts and rain drove many off the water until late afternoon when the winds calmed down and some went back out. Saturday was a much milder day with a total of 1,089 entries, and Sunday with colder temps and a little snow totaled 838 entries. The weekend total came to 2,602. Ryan Shima of Kalispell almost had a limit of 100 on Sunday but came up a little short with 98 in the cooler which was the top number for the weekend.
Julie Vacca of Florence took the lead in the Ladies Category with 139 over Julie Woolley of Manteca, CA with 120, 3rd place Brandy Hilde of Whitefish with 101, 4th Janine Kowalski-Florence with 55, and Connie Jones of Kalispell is 5th with 46.
Michael Benson-Lonepine angler continues to lead the Top Ten Category with a total of 715, 2nd-Felix Gauci of Stevensville-656, 3rd-Ryan Shima-Kalispell-637, 4th Steven Benson Four Lake WA-625, 5th Danner Shima-Kalispell-599, 6th-Sam Cusker Whitefish 598, 7th Scott Bombard Missoula-570, 8th Jason Mahlen Kalispell-511, 9th David McDaniel Polson-436, and 10th Larry Karper-386. Top ten anglers are placed by their best eighteen day average at the end of the event. Tickets are limited after eighteen days for all of the anglers. To receive tickets anglers have to enter more than the lowest day they have. The lowest day is dropped and the next lowest is used for the following day. By the end of the event they struggle to get a ticket but they continue to earn bonus dollars as their totals go up.
Fishing in the deeper water 180 to 240 feet seems to be where most boats are. Casting out and then going down to the bottom and jigging is the method most are using. If you are a new angler be aware that jigs can fly out a great distance and give anglers the space they need.
Remember that Mack Days requires that boats be inspected for invasive species before launching. Contact us for more information-tight lines and good fishing everyone.
(report via Cynthia Benson)