Mack Days is back, why are annual Mack Days events so important? Lake trout were introduced into Flathead Lake in 1905. The population of the lake trout rapidly increased in the1980’s after the introduction of mysis shrimp to waters above the lake. Mysis shrimp were intended to be a food source for kokanee which was a popular fishery of Flathead Lake. The shrimp trickled down into Flathead Lake where the juvenile lake trout began feeding on them giving them an unlimited supply of food. Kokanee disappeared and the populations of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat dramatically decreased from the increased predation of the exploding lake trout population. The native fish population is important to the history of the lake, the history of tribal people, and the state of Montana. Mack Days Events are used as a tool to increase native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout populations, by reducing non-native lake trout numbers in Flathead Lake.
The 2019 Fall Mack Days Fishing Event on Flathead Lake is off to an awesome start. This event is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and has attracted three hundred sixty four anglers. Up to $150,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded to anglers in many different categories at the conclusion of the event on November 10th. The Fall Event is eight weeks long. There is no entry fee for the event and entries will continue to be taken until the last day. Thirty five lottery prizes begin at $1,000 and go to $400. All it takes is one fish entry to qualify for one of the lottery drawings. Prizes are given for the Top Ten Anglers, Ladies, Youth 12 & under, Youth 13-17, Golden Oldies (70 & Over), Smallest Lake Trout, Largest Lake Trout-over 36” and 20 lbs., Captains Prizes, etc. There are also five $100 drawings for each weekend. Bonus dollars begin after your eleventh fish entry.
Total fish entries after the first weekend is at 2,577-1044-Friday, 799-Saturday, and 754-Sunday. That is 842 lake trout over the 2018 Event at this time, whichwas at 1,735.
There is a $10,000 tagged lake trout, we named her Marie Laveau, 3-$5,000, 5-$1,000, and over 9,000 with values from $500-$100 that have been released in Flathead Lake. Each event the high dollar lake trout are tagged a week or two before the event begins and the past high dollar fish are revalued from $100-$500.
There were six tagged fish turned in over the first weekend. The tagged fish were caught in the Delta area on the north end of the lake, around Wildhorse Island, Mid Lake, Rocky Point, and NW Finley Point. They are found in all areas of the lake. Catching $100 tagged lake trout were Roger Brewer and Sam Cusker of Kalispell, Don McDonough-Washington, Utah, Monte McPhearson-Silverdale, WA, Peter Dayton-Missoula X 2, Jack Kirkland-Missoula and Mike Benson-Lonepine.
Kalispell lady angler Julie Perkins leads that category with 142 entries. Gina Schiff of Whitefish is 2nd with 26, 3rd Laurie Kreis of Huson with 18, 4th Kim McMillie of Polson, and 5th Lisa Cloo of Missoula with 9.
Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell turned in 8 on Sunday to put him on the board in the 13-17 Category. Matt lost a lure and fly set up last spring while fishing in Spring Mack Days. Fishing in the same spot on Sunday he hooked onto something that he knew wasn’t a fish. At the end of his line he found the lost lure with the tell-tale hand-made fly attached-a nice surprise.
The Top Ten Angler Category is starting to heat up with Mike Benson of Lonepine leading with 280 lake trout entries. Mike turned in the limit of 100 on Friday, 80 on Saturday, and 100 on Sunday. Felix Gauci of Stevensville turned in 193 to put him in second. Felix had 81, 46, and 66.Missoula angler Scott Bombard is in third place with a total of 130. Scott turned in 76, 54, & 57. Sam Cusker of Bigfork is in fourth after fishing two days with 80 per day for 160 total. Fifth place Terry Krogstad of Kalispell turned in 154-86, 32, & 36. Sixth place is held by lady angler Julie Perkins from Kalispell with a 142 total 75, 36, & 31. 7th Larry Karper from Florence with 132, 8th Jack Kirkland-Missoula-129, 9th Larry Ashwell-Missoula-127, and 10th Bob Stewart-Kalispell-93.
The 70 & Over Category leader is Larry Karper of Florence with 132, 2nd Larry Ashwell-127, 3rd John Gauci of Florence-38, Mike Cosby of Thompson Falls is 4th with 24, and 5th Bob Christensen of Missoula with 16.
Weekend $100 winners were: Scott Bombard, Julie Perkins, Richard Kreis, Mike Cosby, and Mike Benson. Tickets are drawn by fillet staff on Sunday evening each weekend after the last fish are turned in.
Angler’s fish are counted and inspected by tribal fillet staff as they come in the door. The staff has been kept busy counting and processing lake trout as anglers enter their catch. Many fish are donated to be processed. Food bank deliveries are made throughout the weeks of the event.
Tuesday-Thursday fishing will begin on the 24th. All lake trout entries are to be turned in at Blue Bay by 6:00. Totals from the Tuesday-Thursday fishing count for bonus amounts, 8-$50 drawings, and tagged fish only. Mondays are the only days that fish are not taken during the event.
Fish one day, three days, or everyday-it is your choice. Come out and help bring a balance back to the fishery of Flathead Lake. Check out the different ways to win on the website www.mackdays.com or telephone 406-270-3386.