Monday, April 15, 2024

Mack Days: Week three count tops 13,000

by CSKT Fisheries
| April 3, 2024 12:00 AM

After three weekends of fishing beneath the snowcapped Mission Mountains on Flathead Lake, our Spring Mack Days angler’s total lake trout count stands at 13,417. Totals of recent years at the three-week mark are: 2023: 11,315 entries; 2022: 9,039 entries; 2021: 11,135 entries; 2020: 12,925 entries; and 2019: 13,622 entries.

These anglers are amazing fishermen and women who put in countless hours, money, and effort making the events successful!

Mack Days events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks and serve as a management tool used to reduce the non-native lake trout population in Flathead lake. Up to $225,000 in cash and prizes sponsored by CSKT will be awarded at the conclusion of the event to many hard-working anglers.

Leto (“Hidden One”) is the $10,000 tagged lake trout still eluding anglers, along with three $5,000, six $1,000 and more than 9,000 fish with values ranging from $100to $500. These fish are the ones that anglers like to see at the end of their lines.

Turning in tagged fish the third week were: Travis Banyai of Kalispell, $500; and Tyler Varga, Matthew Mitts, Brodie Smith, Luke Smith and Collin Mitts, all of Kalispell, and Missoula angler Jack Colyer with $100 tags.

Anglers rods were busy Friday and Saturday bringing in a few high lake trout numbers the first two days of the weekend. Friday the total was 1,390. Kalispell anglers Kolton Turner and Jason Mahlen had 100 entries each. Saturday’s total came in at 1,723 and Kolton again posted a 100-fish day.

Sunday’s numbers were down with many anglers coming off the rough water early, and yielding a total of 850. The weekend total came to 3,963. Every lake-trout entry counts, whether it’s one or 100.

Lottery prizes are drawn using the angler’s daily counts. Each fish is entered into a file by using the angler’s ID number and random drawings are done using a computer app.

Kolton Turner is in first place in the Top Twenty category with 875, he’s followed by Bob Turner of Kalispell with 760, Jason Mahlen with 705, Jerry Benson of Plains with 508, and Clint Speer of Kalispell with 501.

Youth angler Eli Yang from Missoula is leading the 12 & Under category with 31 entries. Mason Cusker of Bigfork is in second with four, and Gage Spring of Alberton and James Kuchera of Kalispell each have two.

The 13-17 category has Brodie Smith of Kalispell leading with 226 entries; he also currently sits in 18th place in the Top Twenty. Kennedy Yang of Missoula is second with 31, followed by Lane Braza of Missoula with 14, Matthew Mitts of Kalispell with 12, and Lucia Savoia of Missoula with 1.

Lady angler Julie Perkins of Kalispell is leading the ladies with 92, followed by Shirley Batz of Kalispell with 31, and Melissa Triano of Bigfork with 24. Connie Jones of Kalispell is tied for fourth with Rebecca Spring of Alberton with 15 apiece.

The first of the Bucket Days was won by Collin and Matthew Mitts with a bucket weight of 19.15 pounds; second was Lyndon Lee of Kelowna, B.C., with 19; third was Rick Skates of Big Arm with 16.95.

Second day of the Bucket Competition is Saturday, April 20. Anglers put their four largest/heaviest fish under 30 inches and a weight is taken.

Kolton Turner has turned in the smallest lake trout so far at 166mm (6.5”). He also has the second smallest lake trout at 175mm (7”).

Weekend Three Drawing Winners were: $200 Kolton Turner; $100 to Kolton Turner, Shane Salminen of Eureka, Eric Lechleitner of Missoula, and Jeff Hale of Lolo.

We would like to send out a big “thank you” to Lake County Search and Rescue for giving a disabled boat a tow off the lake Sunday. Safety is a big consideration for the anglers and Search and Rescue provides help when needed. It is greatly appreciated.

We remind anglers to be weather-wise when fishing on Flathead Lake: have the proper safety equipment on board, wear your PFDs, keep cell phones dry, and let someone know your fishing plan. Be safe out there.

Entries continue to be taken until the last day of the event. Enter at the end of the day or send your entry with name, mailing address, telephone number and age to We apologize, our website is not functioning at this time.