Flathead Lake anglers have just completed the second week of the 2023 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event. The event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks will conclude on Saturday May 13th. There are seven weekends left and it is not too late to enter. Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event.
Up to $225,000 in Cash and Prizes sponsored by CSKT will be awarded when the event ends. There are several ways to win. Categories are listed on the website www.mackdays.com under the events tab on the rules page. Angler categories include Top Twenty Anglers, Ladies, Youth 12 & Under, Youth 13-17, Over 70 (age), Captains, etc. Enter only one lake trout and you are qualified to win one of the cash lottery prizes that begin at $2,000 and go to $50.
A total of 8,773 lake trout entries have been turned in so far. The Monday-Thursday total is 1,463 and the Friday-Sunday total is at 7,310. The 2019 Spring Event holds the record of most lake trout entries with 40,362 at the conclusion of the event. The second weekend and the weekday total for 2019 was at 8,032. The 2023 Spring Event could be a record year. New anglers are helping to contribute to the higher totals and we hope and need to see more people becoming involved in this conservation effort.
The $10,000 tagged lake trout is still in the murky depths of the lake. There are also 3-$5,000, 6-$1,000 including one sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine, and over 9,000 with values from $100-$500. Bryan Long of Kalispell came in with a $100 tagged fish over the second weekend. There were a few other maybe’s but no tag—better luck next time for those anglers.
Anglers begin to accumulate bonus dollars as their total goes up after their eleventh lake trout entry. Bonus amounts are used to help repay anglers for the dollars it takes to go out fishing to help restore the native fish populations of Flathead Lake. Bull trout and westslope cutthroat were once the dominate fish of the lake and were an important part of generations of native and non-native people who depended on the fish for part of their food stores. It is important to make a difference now and see these fish populations endure in the lake.
Kolton Turner of Kalispell is leading the Top Ten anglers with a total of 545, 2nd Jason Mahlen of Kalispell with 400, 3rd Robert Turner-Kalispell with 379, 4th Jerry Benson-Plains 345, 5th Mike Benson-Lonepine 307, 6th Steven Benson-Spokane Valley 300, 7th Terry Krogstad-Kalispell 272, 8th Scott Bombard-Missoula 246, 9th Travis Banyai-Lakeside 233, and 10th Sam Cusker-Bigfork 227.
Leah Banyai of Lakeside has 93 to lead the Ladies, 2nd Connie Jones-Kalispell 30, 3rd Julie Perkins-Kalispell 23, 4th Amanda Hoback of Arlee 5, and 5th Desiree McIlhargey of Kalispell with 3.
Wyatt Best of Florence is leading the 12 & Under with 3, Hunter McIlhargey of Kalispell has 2, and Chloe McIlhargey has 1.
Brodie Smith of Kalispell is 1st in the 13-17 with 52 and Josey McIlhargey of Kalispell is 2nd with 19.
Weekend winners were: $200-Tom Kemppainen of Columbia Falls and $100-Bob Turner X 2, Tyler Varga of Kalispell, and David McDaniel of Polson.
If you have never fished Flathead Lake and want to become involved talk to the local Tackle Shops in the area. They can give you tips and show what works on the lake. There are also fishing videos on the website and fishing tips, fish ID, rules, entry page, etc.
We encourage anglers to think safety first, use your PFD, keep cell phones dry, help each other out when needed, and encourage the new anglers who might be looking for tips and tricks of lake trout fishing.
Tight lines everyone!