November 12th was the last day of the 2017 Fall Mack Days Fishing Event on Flathead Lake sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Calmer waters and warmer temperatures the last week of the event were welcomed by the anglers. Many had been feeling the stress of the snow, wind, and cold temperatures of the previous week but they were still going out every day. One hundred and nineteen anglers turned in a total of 14,775 lake trout entries during the eight weeks of lake trout fishing. That number is the fourth largest total of all Fall Mack Days Events. The event was extended to 45 days in 2015 and the 2017 total is the lowest of the past three years. Total number for 2015 was 19,525 and 2016 total was 17,527. Every event is different. Weather is a huge factor and this event had plenty of cold, windy, snowy, and rainy weather hampering the anglers.
Placing first in the Top Ten Angler Category was Mike Benson of Lonepine with a total of 1,141 and a fifteen day average of 63.13, 2nd Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 941 and 53.33 average, 3rd Felix Gauci of Stevensville with 820 and a 48.8, 4th Larry Karper of Florence with 564 and 33.67, 5th Richard Kreis of Huson with 523 and 30.33, 6th Scott Bombard of Missoula-461 and 29.87, 7th Larry Ashwell of Missoula-487 and 27.67, 8th Sam Cusker of Whitefish-405 and 26.47, 9th John Gauci of Florence-297 and 18.8, and 10th David McDaniel of Polson with 283 and 18.47. Top ten anglers are placed on their average.
Laurie Kreis of Huson placed first in the Ladies Category with 190, 2nd Bobbi Hereford of Missoula and Julie Woolley of Manteca, CA tied with 107, 4th Gina Schiff of Whitefish with 96, and Jeanee Mooney of Missoula was 5th with 57.
Larry Karper and Larry Ashwell both placed in the Top Ten so Top 70 and Over Awards went to Bob Christensen of Missoula with 254, Dan Olsen of Helena second with 74, and Jim Hoover of Whitefish was third with 30.
Ali Putzler of Kaispell won the 12 and Under group with 9, Matt Kreis was second with 8, and Makenna Garrett of Missoula 3rd with 1.
Tyler Varga of Kalispell was first in the 13-17 Category with 55, Abby Hodgson of Kalispell second with 5, and Christian Wyatt of Missoula was third with one.
Spirit of the Event Award Knives made by Bob Crowder of Thompson Falls went to Felix Gauci and Gina Schiff. Scott Bombard received a Heart of the Event recognition and award.
No one caught the $10,000, three-$5,000, or five-$1,000 tagged lake trout. There were several $100 tagged fish turned in the last week: John Malatare X 2, Larry Ashwell, Mike Benson, Richard Kreis X 3, Tim Mooney X 3, Larry Karper, George Thompson, Bill Swaney, Bob Hereford, Roger Schiff, and Chris Wynat. Turning in $200 tags were: Larry Ashwell, Mike Benson, Paul Soukup, and Roger Schiff.
No large fish entry was received. Winning the smallest lake trout awards were Scott Bombard 163mm and Felix Gauci 151mm.
The last day had a category for the largest lake trout under 30 inches. It was won by Bill Swaney with a 8.68 pound lake trout. Second place went to Matthew Kreis with a 8.25 lake trout.
Mack Days are made successful by the anglers who go out day after day and also the anglers who can only fish a few hours-it all makes the events the success it is. They are the force behind it. The events are designed to help slowly reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake and increase the numbers of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout in the lake.
Friends and families enjoyed a fish fry and awards on Sunday afternoon after the event ended.
The 2018 Spring Mack Days dates are March 16th to May 13th. It will be more lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake Tuesday through Sunday with the same format as in the past. Check out the website at www.mackdays.com for more information on the prizes and awards.
Thank you everyone who helped make the event the success story it is and for helping to make a difference for future generations of Flathead Lake anglers.