2017 Spring Mack Days Final Update
By angelamontana

Posted: May 15, 2017

The 2017 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event on Flathead Lake sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ended on Sunday May 14th at the Blue Bay Campground. A total of 37,195 lake trout entries were turned in by 226 of the 633 anglers entered during the nine week-long event making it the second largest event right behind the 2012 Spring Event which had a total of 38,085 lake trout entries. Weekend nine total was 2,490. Total for the Tuesday-Thursday fishing was 6,647 lake trout.The events are used as a tool to reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake and increase the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat numbers. The native fish are a part of the history of the tribes and the state. Protection of the native fish for future generations is a tribal fisheries management objective.

Top angler in the2017 Spring Event with a total of 1,652 lake trout entries and an eighteen day average of 75.89 was eighteen year old angler Danner Shima of Kalispell. This was the first year that Danner fished from his own boat after working a job and saving his Mack Day winnings that he is on his own. He will be an angler we will be watching in the future-unless you are an angler on the water watching as he pulls the fish in. Many reported having to move on only able to watch for so long and being frustrated at not catching as many as him while fishing the same area. Danner started showing up in the Mack Days stats in 2011 with four fish entries in the Youth Category and has progressed through the years to become Top Angler. His expertise came from fishing with his grandfather Mike Shima, his dad Ryan Shima, and brother Austin who are all very good anglers. Second place went to Jason Mahlen who won the event the past four years and still holds the record of 1,818 entries and a 85.8 eighteen day average. Jason turned in a total of 1,418 and had an average was 66.94, 3rd place Ryan Shima with 1,276 and 60.89, 4th Michael Benson of Lonepine with 1,283 and 59.94 average, 5th David McDaniel of Polson with 1,184 and 56.6, 6th Steven Benson of Four Lakes, WA with 1,159 and 55.0, 7th Felix Gauci of Stevensville with 1,144 and 54.4, 8th Sam Cusker of Whitefish with 1,079 and 53.0, 9th Scott Bombard of Missoula with 1,081 and 52.67, and 10th Robert Turner of Kalispell with 991 and 50.5.

Lady anglers are just as competitive as the men and some put in as many hours as the guys. Top Lady Angler was Julie Vacca of Florence with 332, 2nd Connie Jones of Kalispell with 176, 3rd Janine Kowalski of Florence with 164, Julie Woolley from CA was 4th with 162, and 5th Brandy Hilde of Whitefish with 156.

Veteran Larry Karper again won the 70 and Over Category with 863, 2nd Bob Christensen of Missoula with 318, Gary Perleberg of Bigfork with 107, Ralph Johnson of Columbia Falls 4th with 61, and 5th Bill Violette of Missoula with 52.

Tyler Varga of Kalispell was the winner in the 13-17 Category with 549, 2nd Abby Hodgson of Kalispell with 103, 3rd Leah Banyai of Kalispell with 99, 4th Jack Paul of Whitefish with 65, and 5th Dylan Hodgson with 34.

The 12 and Under winner was Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell with 102, Rylan Koch of Butte was second with 35, and 3rd Kayne Kirwan of Polson with 23.

Mike Shae of Kalispell turned in the highest dollar tagged fish with a value of $1,000. No one was able to catch the $10,000, 3-$5,000, or the other 4-$1,000 lake trout. There were ninety one tagged fish turned in-ninety had values from $100-$500. The last week $100 tagged fish were caught by Larry Karper, Terry Krogstad of Kalispell, Mike Benson, Mike Shima X 2, Sam Cusker, Bob Turner, Matt Guckenberg Jr., Chris Kirwan of Polson X 2, Scott Bombard, and Steve Benson.

There is no category for shore anglers in the event. The Bucket of Fish Days are one way they can compete, tagged fish, lottery drawings, or for the largest lake trout entries are categories they can win. If there was a category for the most fish turned in from a shore angler it would have been won by Randy Hovet of Charlo with a total of 47 lake trout. Randy won the Heaviest Lake Trout Under 30” on the last day with a 6.94 pound 27 ½ inch fish. Larry Ashwell of Missoula was second with a 4.04 weight from a 25 ½” lake trout.

Spirit of the Event Awards went to Terry Krogstad and Michael Benson. The Spirit of the Event Award goes to anglers who exemplify good sportsmanship, leadership, and helpfulness to others.

The success of Mack Days is made possible by the time, effort, money, and dedication of all the anglers who participate in the event. Fishing hours and hours in all kinds of weather-sometimes being very successful and other times with coolers that don’t weigh a lot and then getting out there the next day and trying all over again is what it takes to get the high numbers of fish entries. Thank you to each and every angler.

The 2017 Fall Event will begin on September 22nd and end November 12th.

Check out www.mackdays.com for information about the Mack Days Fishing Events, prizes, and the lottery winners.

Many enjoyed the lake trout fish fry prepared by the tribal staff with Joe Santos as head cook.