Autumn in Western Montana is right around the corner. That means the 2012 Fall Mack Days Fishing Event is fast approaching. It is time to get your fishing equipment-boats, poles, lures, etc. ready to go. Fall Mack Days on Flathead Lake will begin September 21st and end November 11th. Up to $125,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded to anglers at the conclusion of the twenty eight day event. Anglers can fish any number of Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for eight weekends plus fish for 10 straight days November 2-11th for lake trout. They can choose to fish every day, several days, or just one day. Every lake trout entered equals an entry in the lottery style drawing for prizes from $1,000 to $100. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes sponsor the event and it is sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Mack Days Events are used as a tool to slowly reduce the number of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Native fish-bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout-numbers are just a fraction of where they once were in the Flathead system. They are an important part of Montana’s cultural heritage. These fish have been a part of the Flathead for thousands of years and it is important that their legacy continue on for future generations.
Anglers compete several ways to win cash prizes in the event. There are over 3500 tagged lake trout in the lake. One lake trout will have a $10,000 tag, 5-$5,000, 10-$1,000 and the remainder will be worth from $100-$500. Fish with the higher dollar values are tagged close to each event. You cannot see the tags. The tags are inserted in the muscle of the fish and the adipose fin is clipped. As the lake trout are counted or entered in the event fisheries staff watches for clipped fins-anglers sometimes will tie an electrical tie or use a rubber band around a tail or gill plate to mark them. A scanner is used to read the tags and the number is then matched to a value associated with the numbers. Information from the tags-such as movement and growth-along with population estimates is used by the fisheries biologists. The smallest lake trout entry continues to be a popular category with two $250 prizes given. There is a largest lake trout prize of $500 for the heaviest entry. The largest lake trout has to be over 36” and 24#’s to qualify. The ladies only category attracts more ladies every event. Top prize for the ladies is $300-with $200 going to second-and $100 to the third place lady based on overall totals at the end of the event. Other categories are the Youth, Captains, Weekend, Golden Angler (70 and over), etc. The last day has separate prizes from $500-$100. There are also prizes for the Top Ten Anglers based on their best 15 out of 27 days of fishing. The last day-the twenty-eighth- does not count for top ten but does count for bonuses. Top Ten cash prizes are from $700-$200. Bonuses accumulate as the anglers total goes up. The higher the number of lake trout entered the more anglers will receive for a bonus amount.
New-we are working on a single/team competition for 3 days of the event. Friday-9/28, Saturday-10/20, & Sunday-11/4-prizes will be given for the 4 heaviest fish under 30 inches entered from a boat. The four fish entries are to be tagged or identified with some kind of marking before coming through the door. Fish will be put in a bucket and one weight per boat taken. No changes will be made to entries-this has to be the rule because of time limits-points given based on weight. Top weight on those three days will win $200. Overall prizes of $500, $400, & $300 will be given at the end of the event. Let us know your thoughts. Rules will be posted on the website later.
There is no entry fee and the entry form can be found on the website www.mackdays.com –click on events or watch for entry forms at local sporting goods stores. The website has information on prizes, rules, fish catch and release techniques, fishing access, fishing tips, weather, management, Flathead Lake maps, and lake trout recipes.
We encourage anglers to be safety minded while on the water. Have a cell phone (in a zip lock bag)-life jackets or vests (wear them)-dry clothing-safety flares, etc. Make sure someone knows when you plan to return. Make sure your fuel level is in the top third of the gauge. Always be weather aware-winds and waves don’t mix. Go to shore if needed and wait out a storm. Be careful out there!!
For more information about the event please contact 406-883-2888 ex. 7294 or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or suggestions.