Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded on the last day of 2018 Spring Mack Days-May 13th sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. There are four weekends to go in the event. An angler can fish Friday-Sunday and enter at least one fish to become entered in the lottery style drawing that begins at $1,000 and goes to $450-thirty five drawings. There are a lot of different ways to win prizes in the event in several different categories. Mack Days are used as a tool to reduce lake trout in Flathead Lake that are not native to the Flathead system and increase the numbers of native bull trout and weststlope cutthroat whose populations have declined over the years. Lake trout are voracious eaters and prey on other species of fish. They have been caught with full stomachs of fish and tails coming out of their mouths-and will still be looking for more. They also eat mysis shrimp which have changed the color of the flesh of the lake trout turning it to many different orange colors and making them less fatty to eat than they were back in the day when they were feeding on the now extinct kokanee salmon that were popular years ago. Once the lake trout population exploded the salmon were gone in a few years. Protecting the native fish that are here now and that have been in the system for thousands of years is important to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe and the people of Montana.
A total of 20,475 lake trout have been entered in the event so far. That is six hundred behind last years total at this time. Weather has been the key that has kept anglers at bay this event. Wind is the enemy on the lake. These anglers have put in some rough days and like everyone else are anxious for spring weather and sunny days to begin. Friday the total was 1,266 with Jason Mahlen of Kalispell turning in a perfect 100. Saturday there were 1,025 entries with Mike Benson turning in perfect 100 and Sunday the total was 1,476. Jason leads the Top Ten Anglers category with 1,154 entries. Saturday and Sunday Jason turned in 92 entries. Mike Benson is in second-1,116 entries with a 54 on Friday and 90 on Sunday. 3rd-Steve Benson of Spokane Valley WA with 826-45,45,74, 4th Sam Cusker of Bigfork-781-51,61,58, Felix Gauci of Stevensville is 5th with 696-48,37,24, 6th Kolton Turner of Kalispell with 567-72,57,59, 7th Scott Bombard of Missoula with 540-17,30,27, 8th Larry Karper of Florence with 518-32,45,37, 9th Robert Turner of Kalispell 504-64,74,71, and 10th Ken Varga of Kalispell with 487-42,37,69. Daily limit of lake trout is 100 under 30” on the north end of the lake or 99 and 1 over 36. The south half of the lake has just a daily limit of 100 so totals can change fast.
Tyler Varga of Kalispell leads the 13-17 category with 437, Rylan Koch of Butte is second with 20, Abby Hodgson of Kalispell is third with 19, Logan Lang has 15 for fourth, and in fifth is Brandon Paine of Kalispell with 14.
Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell leads the 12 & Under group with 239, 2nd is Brodie Smith with 28, Tripp Bick is third with 23, Emmett Ludahl is 4th with 12, and Scout Love of Columbia Falls has 3.
Lady angler Brandy Hilde of Bigfork still leads the ladies with 233, Julie Woolley of Manteca CA has 209, Julie Perkins of Kalispell is 3rd with 119, Debbie Paine of Polson is 4th with 56, and Julie Vacca of Florence has 38.
Another small lake trout turned in by Mike Benson moved into 2nd that measured 179mm-7 ¼”. The other smallest lake trout entered by David McDaniel is at 144mm-5 7/8”.
Largest lake trout is still Matt Guckenberg Sr.’s 40.25” 24.925#’s. To enter a large lake trout it has to now be larger than the one now entered. It has to be caught on Friday to Sunday fishing days. All of the special categories and prizes are Friday to Sunday. Tuesday to Thursday counts on the anglers total for bonus dollars and tagged fish. There is a special drawing for Tuesday to Thursday of six $50 prizes.
The $10,000, 3-$5,000, 5-$1,000 and over 6000 $500-$100 tagged fish are still in the lake. Catching tagged fish over the past week were: $100-Dave Hoback-Arlee, Kalispell anglers-Jason Mahlen, Ken Varga, Tim Iverson, Travis Banyai, Bob Turner X 2, Mark McMillan and Jack Kirkland X 2-Missoula, Jerry Benson-Plains, Scout Love-Columbia Falls, and Gary Perleberg of Bigfork turned in a $200 tagged lake trout.
Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event. Entry is free. For more information go to www.mackdays.com or telephone 406-270-3386.