Kalispell angler and five time Spring Mack Days top angler Jason Mahlen is expanding his lake trout lead by a slim margin in the 2019 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event. Jason turned in two perfect 100 limits on Friday and Saturday for a total of five perfect 100 days so far and then added 60 entries on Sunday for a total of 930 lake trout. In 2018, Mahlen finished first the event with a 91.56 record and eighteen-day average turning in a total of 2,028 lake trout.
Kolton Turner of Kalispell is sitting second in the Top Ten Category, he is having the most successful event he has ever had turning in a very impressive 901 lake trout. Third place is David McDaniel of Polson with 734 lake trout entries. Bob Turner is in 4th place with 680 entries. Mike Benson of Lonepine is in 5th place with 677entries. Ken Varga of Kalispell is in 6th place with 652 entries. Tyler Varga is in 7th place with 626 entries. Jerry Benson of Plains is in 8th place with 505 entires. Scott Mahlen of Kalispell is in 9th place with 496 entries, and Scott Bombard of Missoula is sitting 10th with 473 entries.
Julie Perkins of Kalispell continues to hold the lead in the Ladies Category with 244, in 2nd place is Leah Banyai of Kalispell with 196 entries. Connie Jones of Kalispell is in 3rd place with 64 entries, Debbie Paine of Polson has 62 entries for 4th, and Lisa Cloo of Clinton is in 5th place .
Florence angler Larry Karper holds onto a slim lead in the 70 & Over Category with 223 entries, in second place is Larry Ashwell with 217 entries. Gary Perleberg of Bigfork is in 3rd place with 126 entries. John Gauci of Florence is 4th with 108 entries, and there is a tie for 5th with Bob Christensen and Roger Brewer each with 17 entries.
Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell leads the 13-17 group with 233 entries and Leah Banyai is sitting 2nd with 196 entries. The 12 & Under group leader is Fjord Borgen with 23 entries, Fisher Whitaker of Kalispell is 2nd with 22 entries, Brodie Smith of Kalispell is 3rd with 20 entries, HD of Arlee has 17 entries for 4th, and Gunner Whitaker of Kalispell is in 5th with 10 lake trout.
Many anglers are reporting that they are catching and releasing bull trout in all areas of the lake. We remind anglers to carefully check out every fish for a positive ID before placing it in their cooler. Bull trout will seem stronger than a lake trout and you will feel it in the fight. If you suspect a bull trout on the line bring the fish in slowly-give it time to come up. Turn the fish over and look at the back and sides of the fish. Bull trout have more rounded spotting on the back and sides with pink or orange colored spots on the sides-sometimes the spotting will not show very well-look close. Young bull trout tails can fool you with it looking like the tail has a v in it like a lake trout but if you spread it out you will see it will be more flat and even.
The head of a bull trout will be broader than that of the lake trout and there will be no spots on the dorsal fin, remember, No black-Put it back! If you catch several bull trout in an area-move out of that area. Don’t keep catching and releasing them. A fish with a lure deep in the throat is better off if you just clip the line close to the mouth of the fish. Their stomach acids will dissolve the hook. If you question the ID of the fish-don’t take a chance-throw it back. It is unlawful to possess a bull trout. We are required to turn bull trout into the proper authorities.
Anglers have turned in a total of 18,200 entries in the event over the first four weekends. Five weeks are left it is not too late to get involved. Five hundred eighteen anglers are registered and one hundred sixty five have turned in one or more lake trout entries. There were 3,722 fish entries the fourth weekend. Friday-1,802, Saturday-1,452, and on a cold, windy, rainy-Sunday-468.
The $10,000 tagged lake trout is still out there-along with 3-$5,000, 5-$1,000 and over 9,000 with values from $500-$100. Turning in $100 tagged lake trout, the fourth week were: Steve Benson-Spokane Valley, Kalispell anglers-Tyler and Ken Varga, and Bob and Kolton Turner. Larry Ashwell of Missoula and Debbie Paine of Polson turned in tagged lake trout with values of $200.
Jack Kirkland of Missoula lost a special lure Larry Karper gave him on Saturday after a feisty fish took it and wrapped his fishing line around the prop before Jack could bring him in. The line sheared off and the fish was free with hook and line trailing as the fish went back into the depths of the lake. Sunday Jack was fishing fifty yards away from Saturday’s mishap when he felt something and started reeling in his line. You guessed it. He had his line from the day before along with a fish but not a lake trout. He had a whitefish on the end of the line he had lost the day before.
There are five weekends left in the 2019 event and angler leads can easily change so stay tuned! Mack Days Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used by fisheries managers to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. There is Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on May 19th. There are several ways to win in the event and you don’t have to have hundreds of entries to qualify. One ticket is all it takes to have a chance to qualify in the drawing. There are categories for the top anglers, old and young anglers, ladies, weekend prizes, lottery prizes, bonuses, and tagged fish with values up to $10,000. Go to www.mackdays.com for all of the information listed under the events tab. Entries will continue to be taken until the last day of the event and there is no entry fee.
If you have questions about the event telephone 406-270-3386 or 406-883-2700 ex. 7282 or 7294. Think spring everyone! Come out and join in-enjoy the spectacular scenery of Flathead Lake, throw out a line and just maybe there will be a $10,000 tagged fish on the end of it when you bring it in.
(via Stephanie Gillin/Information & Education Program Manager)