2024 Spring Mack Days: Week 7 Update
By angelamontana

Posted: April 29, 2024

Anglers fishing the 2024 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event have increased the total number of lake trout entries to 29,228. It was cooler weather throughout the weekend with Fridays total at 1,405, Saturday 1,227, and Sundays total at 687. Monday to Thursday total is 3,334. The 2023 event total at this point after the seventh weekend was 28,176. The record 2019 Event ended with a total of 40,362. Total at seven weeks was at 31,163 lake trout entries. One hundred seventy-two anglers have turned in one or more lake trout entries.  Every good angler knows, fishing is not just about the catch: it’s about the thrill of trying-being out on the lake surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Flathead Lake area. It can be difficult to learn how and where to fish and be successful. It takes patience and perseverance but you don’t have to be a top angler to enjoy fishing in the Mack Days Events. Every lake trout entry counts in this fish conservation effort to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake.

Years ago, people fished the native fish for food to survive, these fish were part of their existence, they are a large part of the history of our native people. The native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout have decreased in population over time due to the non-native lake trout introduction into Flathead Lake and the effects they had on the native fish population. Increasing the native bull trout and westslope populations for future generations of anglers is important for everyone.

There is Up To $225,000 in Cash and Prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the 2024 Mack Days Fishing Event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Mack Days are sponsored by the tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. These avid fishermen (ladies included) have two weekends left to increase their total numbers. As their numbers increase their bonus amounts increase, they get more entries in the lottery drawing, and the chances of catching a tagged fish increase.  Entries will be taken until the last day of the event. You can be a winner with just one fish entry! Anglers have won $1,000 with one fish entry caught from a boat and also one from a shore angler. Anglers can enter at any time-one entry in the event gives you a chance in the lottery drawings that begin at $100 and go up to $2,000. 

The $10,000 tagged lake trout is still dwelling in the depths of Flathead Lake. He is the “hidden one” called Leto. There are also 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. Turning in tagged fish this past week were: $100-Collin Weymer of Bonners Ferry ID, Kolton Turner of Kalispell, Deno Thomas of Polson, Shirley Batz of Kalispell, and Michael Benson of Lonepine turned in a $200 tagged lake trout. 

Top Twenty anglers are led by Kolton Turner with 1,975 lake trout entries, he has turned in 100 fish nineteen days out of the twenty days he has fished, and has one 75 fish day. Top Ten Anglers are placed by their best 18-day average at the conclusion of the event. Kolton now has a 100 18-day average. Only one other angler has ever hit the 100 18-day average, that was Jason Mahlen in 2019.  Kolton’s father Robert is in second place with 1,832, with twelve 100 fish days-95.28 avg., 3rd place is Jason Mahlen of Kalispell with 1,705, twelve 100 fish days-92.89 avg., 4th Clint Speer of Kalispell 1,152-60.22 avg, 5th Gene Corne of Kalispell 1,021-53.17 avg, 6th Jerry Benson of Plains 911-50.61 avg, 7th  Ken Varga 891-48.83 avg, 8th Michael Benson of Lonepine 847-47.09 avg, 9th  Tyler Varga of Kalispell with 835, 10th Travis Banyai of Lakeside with 816, 11th David McDaniel of Polson with 698, 12th Bryan Long of Kalispell with 686, 13th Larry Ashwell of Missoula with 681, 14th David Kelch of Kalispell with 653, 15th Larry Ludahl of Kalispell with 636, 16th Jack Kirkland of Missoula with 556, 17th Felix Gauci of Stevensville with 540, 18th Nate Dieterich of Kalispell with 534, 19th Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 504, 20th Jake North of Denton with 455. Several anglers have not reached18 days yet.

Julie Perkins of Kalispell is in first place in the Ladies Category with 263 lake trout entries, 2nd Shirley Batz of Kalispell with 91, 3rd Corrine McCubbins of Kalispell with 79, 4th Melissa Triano of Bigfork with 24, Janine Kowalski of Florence and Connie Jones of Kalispell are tied for 5th with 17 fish entries. 

The youth anglers in the event are a great group of fishermen, they are the future of this event!  Youth angler Brodie Smith of Kalispell has 398 entries and is first in the 13-17 Category. 2nd place is Kennedy Yang of Missoula with 31, 3rd place is Matthew Mitts of Kalispell with 19, 4th place is Lane Brazda of Missoula with 14, and Lucia Savoia of Missoula has 1. Eli Yang of Missoula is leading the 12 & Under with 31 lake trout entries, 2nd place is Mason Cusker of Bigfork with 4, 3rd place is Gage Spring of Alberton with 3, and 4th place is James Kuchera of Kalispell 2. 

Jack Kirkland’s large fish entry is still the largest lake trout so far in the event. It measured 42 inches and weighed in at 24.4 lbs. Bretz RV and Marine sponsors the $500 award for the largest lake trout entry. Smallest lake trout entered is Gene Corne’s 164mm (6.5”) trout. There is a three-way tie for 2nd with Jason Mahlen, Gene Corne, and Kolton Turner. Each of them has turned in 166mm small Lakers. 

The third Bucket Day is Sunday May 5th. Over all bucket is chosen on points. Rick Skates of Polson has a total of 14 points with a third place (6 pts) and a second place (8pts) bucket winners from the 1st and 2nd Bucket Days. With 10 points each is Matthew/Colin Mitts of Kalispell and Cole Williams of Kalispell. They each had first place buckets. Good luck everyone!

There are only two weeks remaining, in this nine-week long event, which concludes on Saturday May 11th.  Come out and enjoy lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake. Our website is currently under construction, please call (406) 270-3386 to enter or enter at the end of the day when you turn in your catch. You can keep your catch or they can be donated to be processed.

All it takes is one entry to be eligible for lottery drawings.  Fish from a boat or from shore!  Get your poles out and come out for some lake trout fishing on Flathead Lake!   Stay safe out on the water and have proper safety equipment.  Please stay alert to changing weather, and keep cell phones dry!

Tight lines everyone and Thank you anglers-you make this happen!



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