Bigfork resident takes second in 2020 Fall Mack Days

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | November 18, 2020 3:55 AM

Lonepine’s Mike Benson began fishing the Mack Days Tournament in 2006 and his early results were not much to write home about.

According to Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe officials, Benson’s nickname then was “One Fish” because that’s all he could catch.

But Benson kept at it and today he is the standard by which all other anglers are measured in the fall event. In his 30th Mack Days event, Benson won his seventh championship in the fall events. Benson has also placed second six times fifth once.

Sunday, Benson won 2020 top angler honors with a total of 1,036 lake trout and an 18-day average of 49.06.

The event, hosted by CSKT to rid Flathead Lake of the non-native lake trout and increase native fish numbers, saw 14,821 lake trout entries turned in by 138 anglers. More than 400 were registered for the 10-week event, which made it the longest Mack Days in history.

The 2020 fall event total entries were not the best or the worst of any previous events. The 2015 Fall Event brought in 19,540 lakers in eight weeks, making it the highest total event, with the 2014 fall event total entries of 12,888, making it the lowest in eight weeks.

Weather over the course of the event went from the extreme of hot, sunny days to cold, snowy and windy days, particularly over the last month. The end of the event came just in time for anglers as 12 inches of snow fell during the last week making it impossible to come in and get up the boat ramp without some assistance.

Anglers in the top 10 category placed by their best 18-day average. If an angler placed in the top 10 category, they give up their placing in all other categories (Ladies, 70-and-over, or any Youth).

In this fall’s event, that included Julie Perkins, Larry Ashwell, Larry Karper and John Gauci.

Sam Cusker of Bigfork came in second with 712 entries and 39.56 average while third place went to Ashwell, of Missoula, with 642 entries and 32.61 average.

Missoula’s Scott Bombard was fourth with 598 entries and 30.5 average, and fifth place went to Florence’s Gauci with 517 entries and 27.67 average.

Placing sixth was Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 578 entries and a 27.06 average. Kalispell’s Perkins was seventh overall with 510 entries and 24.61 average and Benson’s brother, Mike, of Spokane Valley, finished eighth with 451 entries and a 24.0 average.

Florence’s Karper was ninth with 418 entries and 22.4 average, while Richard Kreis of Huson was 10th with 422 entries and 20.06 average.

Laurie Kreis of Huson took the lead in the Ladies with a total of 350 entries, while Whitefish’s Gina Schiff was second with 89 entries. Helena’s Kimberly Mack was third with 66 entries, Kim McMillie of Polson was fourth with 52 entries, and fifth place went to Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls with 49 fish.

Winning the 70-and-over category was Jack Kirkland, of Missoula, with 298 entries.

Finishing second was Polson’s Marty Herak with 128 entries and third place went to Mike Cosby of Thompson Falls with 75 entries. Fourth place went to Bob Christensen of Missoula with 61 entries while Bernie Olson of Lakeside placed fifth with 45..

For the youth anglers, Tripp Bick of Arlee won the 12-and-under with 13 entries and Kaden Blowers of Missoula was second with six fish. Gage Spring of Alberton was third with four entries while Brodie Smith of Kalispell and Zander Oliver of Missoula each had one lake trout entry.

Jeff Devlin of Polson won the 13-17 age group with 14 fish while second place went to Makenna Garrett of Missoula with eight fish. Kadin Kammerer of Missoula with was third with seven fish and fourth place went to Wyatt Thompson of Bigfork with two trout.

The $10,000 lake trout eluded anglers and is still out there. No angler turned in any of the tagged fish with $1,000 values or more.

Gilbert R. Michel of Charlo and Bill Swaney of New Town, North Dakota, turned in $100 tagged lake trout and Mike Benson turned in a $200 laker. The $100-$500 tagged lake trout

from this event will have new dollar amounts assigned to them before the Spring Mack Days Event and new fish will have the higher values assigned to them.

Kolton Turner of Kalispell was first draw in the lottery drawing followed by Terry Krogstad. Terry also drew the second draw. Visit the website, www.mackdays.com for a list of the winners.

“Thank you to the very hardworking anglers who make Mack Days the success it is,” tournament organizer Cindy Benson said. “You are unrelenting anglers, who love to fish and are successful at bringing in lake trout. It takes time and hard work to become a successful angler on Flathead Lake!”

The 2021 Spring Mack Days begins March 19 and end May 16.