2024 Spring Mack Days-One Week Away!
By angelamontana

Posted: February 29, 2024

The 2024 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes is just around the corner. Lake trout anglers are gearing up to hit the waters of Flathead Lake for the fifty nine day event which begins on March 14th and will end on Saturday May 11th. There is Up To $225,000 in Cash and Prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event. The event is sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a special tribal fishing permit available for anyone for the south half of Flathead Lake. Check with fishing license vendors for the permit.

Enter just one fish to qualify for the lottery drawings that begin at $2,000 and go to $100. Fish one day or fish every day. As your fish total goes up over 11 lake trout entries you begin to accumulate bonus dollars. The higher your total number of fish entries the higher the bonus amount. Categories for special prizes are Ladies, Youth 12 & Under and 13-17, Captains, 70 & Over, Largest Lake Trout, Smallest Lake Trout, Top Twenty Anglers, and more. 

The $10,000 tagged lake trout is named “Leto”-meaning the hidden one- and he/she will be somewhere in the depths of Flathead Lake. Who would not like to have this fish on the end of their line at the end of the day? There will also be 3-$5,000 and 6-$1,000 tagged lakers. Those higher dollar lake trout are tagged before each event begins and the old ones are revalued to the lower values. There are over 9,000 lake trout with values from $100 to $500. The adipose fin has been clipped on a tagged fish so the clipped fin fish are all scanned for tags when brought in. Just a caution though-not all clipped fin lake trout have tags. 

Anglers have reported at times fishing one spot and clipping fins when releasing fish in a spot to identify any they might catch a second time during the day. The adipose fin is a soft thick fleshy fin and is easy to clip for that purpose. Fisheries staff double tag some lake trout for retention information. When those fish come in and are identified as having two tags they get scanned on each side. Loss of a tag in double tagged lake trout is very rare. There have been three $10,000 tagged lake trout turned in over the years. Terry Krogstad of Kalispell came in with one during the 2021 Fall Event, Matt Guckenberg of Kalispell 2020 Spring, and Felix Gauci of Stevensville during the 2014 Fall Event. Roger Schiff of Kalispell turned in the only $5,000 tagged winner in 2013 Fall. Five $1,000 tagged lake trout were turned in as winners. 

We encourage participation in the event for anyone who loves to fish! Come out, have fun, and test your skills reeling in lake trout and maybe you will have a winning tagged fish or get a winning lottery prize from your entry. All it takes is one lake trout entry to qualify for one of the many prizes. The CSKT Fisheries Program Management Goal for Mack Days contests on Flathead Lake is to slowly reduce the smaller sized lake trout population to increase the native bull trout and westslope populations. The goal is not to completely eliminate the lake trout population, but to find a better balance between a recreational fishery based largely on lake trout and to improve on and have a healthier native trout-bull trout and westslope cutthroat population.  We can make a difference in these populations of native fish for future generations by working on this goal together. It takes everyone working together to make this a successful native species management achievement for everyone and especially for the future of Flathead Lake fisheries. 

Enter up until the last day of the event. Blue Bay Fisheries Building is the headquarters for the event. Fish can be entered at Blue Bay Monday to Thursday 9-6 and Friday to Sunday 9-9 or ½ hour before dark whichever comes first. We try to give everyone as much daylight fishing time as possible but we have to have a limit on the hours. Lake trout are to be turned in the same day as caught. Check-in Times: Blue Bay: 9:00 A.M.-1/2 hour before dark OR 9:00 whichever comes first. Friday-Sunday: Big Arm State Boat Ramp: 5:00 P.M.-5:30, Polson-Salish Point Boat Ramps: 6:00 P.M.-6:15, Somers State Boat Ramp:  3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M., & Wayfarers-Bigfork State Boat Ramp: 5:00 P.M.-5:30.  No fish pickups on May 11th. All fish to Blue Bay by 3:00. Awards announced at 3:00-No fish fry.

Kolton Turner of Kalispell has won the Top Angler category for the past three Spring Events. His total in 2023 Spring was 2,089 with an 18-day average of 95.72, 2022 1,582, and 2021 1,856. Jason Mahlen of Kalispell still holds the best 18-day average during an event with his 100.0 average in 2019. His total lake trout entries were 2,134. Jason has won Top Angler seven times. Will it be one of them who wins this year or will someone new come along and make a move to be Top Angler-fish totals will tell. The Top Twenty Anglers each receive a cash award. Amounts depend on their placing. 

Our oldest most treasured angler is 93 year old Leonard Lewis of Missoula. Leonard entered the Spring Event but stated he is not sure he will make it out there. We are wishing him the best and hope to see him out on the lake with fish in the cooler.

The mackdays.com website is not running at this time. Send your entries with name, address, telephone number, and age if 70 & Over to cindy.benson@cskt.org or call (406) 270-3386.  Be weather alert while on the water. Have PFD’s on and use common sense out on the water. Follow all Tribal, State, and Coast Guard Boating Regulations. 

Good luck and tight lines everyone!


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