2023 Fall Mack Days Week 1 Results
By angelamontana

Posted: September 18, 2023

Fall Mack Days on Flathead Lake sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes began on Thursday September 14th with a total of 492 lake trout entries. This was the first day of the thirty-three weekday fishing days during the nine-week long fishing event. Friday began the nine weekend fishing days with 668 entries coming in. Saturdays total was 496 and on a breezy Sunday, with a total of 346. The weekend total came to 1,510 lake trout entries and a combined total of 2,002.   There are 216 anglers registered in the event. Anglers have the opportunity to fish 60 days or they can choose to fish one, five, or however many they want. Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event. 

Up to $200,000 in Cash and Prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on November 12th. Categories for everyone to try to be lucky winners in are: Ladies, Youth 12 & Under, 13-17, 70 & Over, Top Ten Anglers, Top Twenty Anglers, Smallest Lake Trout, Largest Lake Trout, and many more. Come out and get your entries in! Some categories are by the fish totals but there are many opportunities to win in the lottery drawings that require one fish entry to win! Lottery drawings begin at $2,000 and go down to $100. Check out the website at www.mackdays.com to see the categories, rules, fishing tips, etc. There are some issues with the entry page not responding.  Email your entries to cindy.benson@cskt.org, telephone entries to (406) 270-3386, or enter at the end of the day when you come in. 

The $10,000 tagged lake trout “Ghost” is waiting and lurking in the murky depths of Flathead Lake. He could be on the end of your line-you have to go fishing to do any catching. There are 3-$5,000, and 6-$1,000 including one sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine of Missoula plus over 9,000 with values from $100-$500. Lake trout with tags have been released throughout the lake. The adipose fin has been clipped on the fish to identify them. Scott Bombard of Missoula turned in a $100 tagged fish on Sunday. 

Using the Mack Day Events as a tool to reduce numbers of lake trout began in 2002 with the first event total at 888. Reducing the population of lake trout will help the native fish populations of bull trout and westslope cutthroat increase in Flathead Lake. The native fish were the dominant fish of the lake for thousands of years. Lake trout are voracious eaters of other species of fish. The large population of them keeps the native fish population diminished and they have been struggling for several years. It takes years of reduction to see results but in time it happens. 

Felix Gauci of Stevensville is leading the anglers with a total of 179, 2nd Mike Benson of Lonepine-163, 3rd David Myers of Riverton, Wy with 150, 4th Jack Kirkland-Missoula 131, 5th Larry Ashwell-Missoula 126, 6th Bob Stewart of Kalispell with 114, 7th Scott Bombard-Missoula 94, 8th Larry Karper-Florence 85, 9th Richard Kreis of Huson-73, and 10th Steve Mack-Helena 69.  

Laurie Kreis of Huson is leading in the Ladies Category with 47, 2nd Kim Mack of Helena is 2nd with 36, and Debbi Sacchi of Thompson Falls is in 3rd with 28. 

Bear Yarrow, Holden Griffin, and Ace Whimper of Clinto fishing from the same boat each turned in one fish in the 12 & Under Category. Bucky Yarrow waiting his turn, letting his buddies go first to fish ran out of time before the breezy weather brought the boat in. His turn will come. 

Jack Kirkland had the highest catch on Friday with 86, but watched his favorite fishing pole fly out of his hand when suddenly he felt the line jerk, is was a fish that hit it hard!  It was a lunker and it took off fast and deep with Jacks favorite blue Cabela’s rod and a new Extreme reel trailing behind. Not something you enjoy seeing when you are out there fishing. In fact, it could ruin your day. The only thing that made it bearable at the end of the day was bringing in the highest lake trout catch of the day. 

Sunday, another mishap happened, two lines out and Jack had a bite. He was reeling that fish in and somehow the other rod flipped out of the boat when he hit it with the one with the fish on and he had to watch it sink into the depths of the water. Two rods in one weekend was more than he could take. He improvised and put two hooks on his remaining line and went trolling. Luckily, he caught the line of the rod that had sank and retrieved it. The favorite blue pole is still out there. But he was still smiling at the end of the weekend and looking forward to next week. 

Felix Gauci had the high catch on Saturday with 82. Mike Benson’s 42 was high on Sunday. He also reported catching a westslope cutthroat trout, 2 bass, and a whitefish. An Interesting and fun day of fishing for lake trout!

Smallest fish entries so far are Bryan Long and Bob Stewart each of Kalispell with 199mm (7.8 inches) lake trout.  There have been no large fish entries.

Anglers have had some warm days the first weekend. Sunny days are nice but can become a little too warm during the day. Keeping hydrated is an issue even though you are out on a huge body of water. Always be prepared with extra water, safety equipment, and PFD’S. Keep alert to weather changes. Have a plan and let someone know when you will be off the water. Keep you cell phone dry.  Be safe out there!

We remind anglers to know your fish identification!  It is easy to miss a bull trout that may not be colored brightly. There are fish ID tips on the website or ask for fish ID when checking in your catch.  Come out and fish for lake trout during the Fall Mack Days Fishing Event. Maybe that $10,000 tagged lake trout will be on the end of your line. 

Tight lines everyone!


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