Anglers fishing 2018 Spring Mack Days had to deal with a variety of weather issues over the Easter weekend. Friday cooler temperatures came in and with the cooler temperatures came winds and big waves on the water. Entries were 646 at the end of the day-many anglers coming off the water early in the afternoon. Saturday the ground was blanketed with snow and temps were colder. Rollers and white caps were visible from shore and most anglers made the wise decision not to try and launch in the rough water. Boats can get tangled up in a hurry when waves are coming in hard and high while trying to launch. It can be a costly mistake when boats are damaged. A few anglers on the north end of the lake that were able to launch dealt with freezing fingers, fishing lines, and reels along with the rough waters most of the day. Afternoon fishing was better with a couple of boats going out on the south end of the lake. Total catch for Saturday was 229. Sunday the weather was a little better. Early morning water was smoother and boats were able to safely launch. Anglers turned in 883 entries bringing the three week total to 12,448.
Up to $225,000 sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will be awarded at the conclusion of 2018 Spring Mack Days on May 13th. The events are used as one of the tools to slowly reduce the numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake and protect native bull trout and weststlope cutthroat trout. The events are sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The event continues with anglers fishing Tuesday through Sunday. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are separate from the weekend contest but do count for final bonus totals at the end of the event. There are six $50 drawings the last day for the Tues-Thurs anglers and they do get Yeti Cooler tickets for every 10 fish for that drawing and tagged fish count every day of the event.
The $10,000 tagged lake trout, 3-$5,000, and 5-$1,000 plus over 6,000 with values from $500-$100 are still waiting for some lucky angler to bring them in. Bob Turner of Kalispell turned in a $200 tagged lake trout and a $100 tagged lake trout on Sunday. Also turning in $100 tagged lakers were Scott Bombard of Missoula, Kolton Turner, Travis Banyai, Matt Guckenberg, and Jason Mahlen of Kalispell.
Entries are taken until the last day of the event. Go to www.mackdays.com for information, entry forms, fish ID, boat safety, lake map, etc. or telephone 406-270-3386. All it takes is one fish to be entered in the lottery style drawing the last day of the event or in the weekend drawings.
Friday was the first day of the Bucket of Fish competition. Winning with a 20.6 pound bucket was Brett Moore-Huson and Justin Spring of Alberton. First place team or boat wins $200. Second was Mike Benson with a 12.25 bucket, third Larry Karper-12.0, 4th Terry Krogstad-9.6, and 5th Ken and Tyler Varga with 6.95. Points are given 10-1st, 8-2nd, and so on and at the end of the three specific days of the competition the points are tallied. The winner of the Bucket of Fish is the boat or team with the most points. The four lake trout in the bucket have to be 30” or smaller. The second day of will be April 21st, and the third day is May 6th. Shore anglers can also enter the Bucket Day.
Leading anglers in the Top Ten competition is Mike Benson of Lonepine with 724 lake trout entries-100 fish limit on Friday, 3 for Saturday, and 57 on Sunday. Jason Mahlen of Kalispell is in second with 605-20, 58, and 86, 3rd Steve Benson of Spokane Valley, WA with 572-14, 0, and 50, 4th Sam Cusker of Bigfork 492-25,21, and 13, 5th Felix Gauci of Stevensville-487-0, 0, and 68, 6th Scott Bombard of Missoula with 414, 7th Larry Karper of Florence with 348, Tyler Varga of Kalispell is 8th with 291, David McDaniel of Polson is 9th with 272, and Ken Varga of Kalispell is 10th with 269.
Brandy Hilde of Bigfork has a total of 228 to hold on to 1st in the Ladies Category. 2nd is Julie Woolley of Manteca, CA with 54, 3rd Debbie Paine of Polson with 29, 4th Julie Vacca of Florence with 28, and 5th Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 20.
Tyler Varga is 1st in the 13-17 category with 291 and Matt Guckenberg Jr is first in the 12 and Under group with 121.
The largest fish entered so far in the competition is a lake trout entered by Matt Guckenberg Sr. It weighed 24.9 lbs. and measured 40.2 inches. The record for a large fish entered in a Mack Days Events is one entered by Nicole Peters-45” 38.5 pound lake trout in 2010. Smallest lake trout entries in Spring 2018 are a 146mm 5.7” entered by David McDaniel and the other is 182mm entered by Roger Olsen Jr. of Butte. Mack Days smallest entry on record is a 2014 entry by John Gauci of Florence-142mm 5.5 inches.
Weekend drawing winners of $100 were: Steve Benson, David McDaniel, Jason Mahlen, Brandy Hilde, and Hank McLeod.
Fish pickups are done by staff at the Somers boat ramp Friday-Sunday from 3:00 to 4:30. Wayfarers boat ramp fish pickups are 5:00 to 5:30. Big Arm and Polson will be done if anglers telephone that a fish pickup is needed Friday-Sunday. Big Arm would be 5:00-5:30 and Polson 6:00 to 6:30.
Boat safety comes first on the water. Be prepared, check weather information before launching, wear your PFD/life jacket, keep cell phones dry, have extra clothing, and be vigilant of changing weather while on the water.
Think Spring everyone!