2024 Spring Mack Days – Week 4 Update
By angelamontana

Posted: April 8, 2024

How to describe the anglers who put in the countless hours, dollars, sweat, and a little bit of blood that are out on Flathead Lake fishing the Mack Days Fishing Events!  They are the best of the best when it comes to lake trout fishing, a sport that they love. The Mack Days staff described them as relentless, resilient, competitive, respectful, consistent, enthusiastic, and tough. Part of the lure of fishing must be that every bite or hit on the line is a surprise-not knowing what is on the line is part of the draw. Landing the fish is the next step-trying not to lose the fish becomes part of the effort. Bigger isn’t always better in this event-unless the lake trout is over 36” and 20 pounds which qualifies it for the Largest Lake Trout Award. Big lunkers take time to bring up and they take up space in coolers but as long as they are under 30 inches each one counts on the angler’s total. 

These anglers love nature and all that it brings at them.  Every angler is helping in this fish conservation effort to reduce the lake trout numbers in Flathead Lake and increase the numbers of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat. Fisheries conservation efforts are not as visible in the public eye, as conservation efforts with other animals such as the grizzly bear, wolves, spotted owls, etc. Out of sight, out of mind, most people are not aware of them. But they are just as important, they are an important part of the ecosystem of the lake and valley, part of the culture of native tribes, and part of the future of the lake. 

“Leto” the $10,000 tagged lake trout is lurking in the dark, deep, and cold depths of the lake–waiting. There are 3-$5,000 lake trout, 6-$1,000 including one sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine, and over 9,000 with values from $100-$500. Come out and get your lines in the water-you could bring one of the tagged lake trout in! Jason Mahlen turned in a $100 tagged lake trout on Sunday. 

Total fish count at this time is at 17,272. Fridays total was 1,276, Saturday 803, and Sunday 980. Cold rain and some wind hampered the anglers on Saturday. It was rough going for them. Sunday was rain, wind, and snow in the morning but by evening clearing skies and calm water. Out on the water the wind and the cooler temps are more intense than if you are on shore. 

There is a three-way tie in the popular category for the Smallest Lake Trout at this time. Kolton Turner, Jason Mahlen, and Gene Corne of Kalispell all have turned in 166mm (6.5”) lake trout. 

Kolton Turner of Kalispell is in the number one spot of the Top Twenty Angler Category with 1,175-11 100 fish days, Bob Turner-Kalispell-is in 2nd with 1042-6 100 fish days, Jason Mahlen of Kalispell is 3rd with 938-entries-7 100 fish days, 4th Clint Speer-Kalispell 657, 5th Jerry Benson-Plains 604, 6th Ken Varga-Kalispell 581, 7th Gene Corne-Kalispell 561, 8th Michael Benson-Lonepine 524, 9th Tyler Varga-Kalispell 514, 10th Jake North-Denton 455, 11th Travis Banyai of Lakeside 428, 12th Bryan Long-Kalispell 421, 13th Larry Ashwell-Missoula 383, 14th Larry Ludahl-Kalispell 375, 15th David Kelch-Kalispell 348, 16th David McDaniel-Polson 329, 17th Dan Deuschman-Missoula 322, 18th Felix Gauci-Stevensville 307, 19th Nate Dieterich-Kalispell 307, 20th Jack Kirkland-Lolo 282.  

Leading the Ladies is angler Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 92, 2nd Corrine McCubbins of Kalispell with 69, 3rd Shirley Batz of Kalispell 46, 4th Melissa Triano of Bigfork 24, and 5th Janine Kowalski of Frenchtown 17. 

Brodie Smith of Kalispell has 268 for 1st in the 13-17 Category, 2nd Kennedy Yang of Missoula with 31, 3rd Lane Brazda of Missoula with 14, Matthew Mitts of Kalispell has 12, and Lucia Savoia of Missoula has 1. The 12 & Under Category leader is Eli Yang of Missoula with 31, 2nd Mason Cusker of Bigfork with 4, Gage Spring of Alberton 3, and James Kuchera of Kalispell has 2.

Michael Benson is leading the 70 & Over with 524, 2nd Larry Ashwell-383, 3rd Felix Gauci-307, 4th Jack Kirkland-282, and 5th Terry Krogstad of Kalispell-235.

Weekend winners were: $200-Michael Benson & $100-Terry Krogstad, Michael Benson, Bryan Long, and Tristan Persico of Missoula.

Mack Days Fishing Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used as a management tool to reduce the non-native lake trout. The event is sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. The CSKT Tribe sponsors 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 on May 11th. There is no entry fee. Categories include Top Twenty Angler prizes, Ladies, Youth, Captains, Smallest Fish, Largest Fish-sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine of Missoula, Lottery Drawings, etc. All it takes is one fish to win, as your total number of lake trout entries goes up you receive bonus dollars to help with the cost of participating. We apologize that our website is under reconstruction, please contact Cindy Benson at (406) 270-3386 or cindy.benson@cskt.org to get signed up!

Good luck and tight lines everyone!


Photo caption: Ray Nielsen of Polson is pictured here with his large lake trout entry, and, amazingly, it wasn’t quite large enough!
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