Dozens of fishing lines were dropped to the bottom of Flathead Lake by anglers that were not afraid of the cold waters as the 2023 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks got underway. The 2023 spring Mack Days event is scheduled to run from March 16th to May 13 this season.
Anglers were dodging ice chunks in the lake as they made their way to their favorite fishing spots was challenging. It was reminiscent of 2019 spring mack days event, when all of the shallow bays on the lake were iced over and the event had to be delayed a week until anglers made a path through the ice out of Yellow Bay to open waters.
Sunday the anglers reported breaking ice from Yellow Bay to Rocky Point. Big Arm Bay, Polson Bay, and Somers Bay are iced in again this year. Sitting in the dark the anglers could hear the ice making strange crackling and popping sounds as they waited for daylight and hopefully some warm sunshine. Anglers are using Blue Bay, Yellow Bay, Wayfarers, and Westshore boat ramps at this time.
On Thursday, the first day of the event 984 fish entries were turned in. During the sunny but bone chilling first weekend a total of 4,295 lake trout were entered, for a grand total of 5,279 fish entries. Five anglers hit the perfect 100-Mike Benson, Scott Bombard, Bob Turner, Kolton Turner, and Jerry Benson. The 2019 Spring Event has the record of the most lake trout entries at 40,362 entries even with the ice issues. The first weekend of the 2019 Event total was 2,052 fish entries. Jason Mahlen had three perfect days, Kolton Turner turned in two perfect days, Bob Turner had one perfect day. There are currently 433 anglers entered in this 2023 Spring Mack days event with 107 turning in one or more lake trout entries.
There is Up To $225,000 in Cash and Prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event. Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event. There is no entry fee. Come out and help in this conservation effort to reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Increasing the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat in Flathead Lake is important to the future of these native fish. All it takes is one fish entry to qualify for the lottery drawings that begin at $2,000 and go to $50 at the conclusion of the event. Go to the website www.mackdays.com for the rules, fishing tips and ID, etc. Bonus dollars begin with your eleventh lake trout entry and go up as your total goes up. Check out the chart on the rules page.
Leading the Top Ten Anglers is Jason Mahlen of Kalispell with a perfect three-day weekend of 300 lake trout entries. The limit of lake trout per day on Flathead Lake is 100 under 30” or 99 under 30” and 1 over 36”. Kolton Turner of Kalispell is in 2nd with 298 fish entries, 3rd Sam Cusker of Bigfork 227 entires, 4th Jerry Benson of Plains with 217 entires, 5th Bob Turner of Kalispell with 205 entries, 6th Steve Benson from the Spokane Valley with 174 entries, Terry Krogstad of Kalispell is 7th with 171 entries, 8th Scott Bombard of Missoula with 164 entries, 9th Mike Benson of Lonepine with 135 entries, Travis Banyai of Lakeside is 10th with 123 lake trout entries.
Leah Banyai of Lakeside is leading the Ladies Category with 52 entries and Connie Jones from Kalispell is 2nd with 9 lake trout entries. Wyatt Best of Florence is 1st in the 13-17 with 3 entries. Brodie Smith from Kalispell is 1st in the 12 & Under with 18 entries and Josey McIlhargey of Kalispell is 2nd with 1 entry.
The 70 and Over Category leader is Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 171 entries, 2nd Mike Benson of Lonepine with 135 entries, 3rd Larry Karper of Florence with 120 entries, 4th Larry Ashwell of Missoula 107 entries, and 5th Jack Kirkland of Lolo with 61 lake trout entries.
The $10,000 tagged lake trout “Howdy” is still in the lake. There are three $5,000, five $1,000 and one $1,000 tagged lake trout sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine still out there along with over 9,000 tagged fish with values from $100 to $500.
Tagged lake trout with $100 values were turned in this weekend by Steve Benson of Spokane Valley, Mark McMillin of Missoula, and Mike Benson of Lonepine. Devon Burkowski of Kalispell turned in a $200 tagged lake trout.
Weekend Drawing winners were: $200-Larry Ashwell of Missoula, $100-Bryan Long of Kalispell, Sam Cusker of Bigfork, Terry Krogstad of Kalispell, and Gene Corne of Kalispell.
Come out and try your luck at lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake. The $10,000 tagged lake trout could be on the end of your line! For more information, visit the website at www.mackdays.com or contact Cindy Benson at (406) 270-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Good luck and tight lines everyone!
Photo credit: Mackdays.com