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Mack Days anglers lauded as relentless

by CSKT Fisheries
| April 11, 2024 12:00 AM

How to describe those anglers who put in countless hours, dollars, sweat, and a little bit of blood out on Flathead Lake during 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 and 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.

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 the conservation efforts with other animals such as the grizzly bear, wolves, spotted owls, etc. But they are just as important to the ecosystem of the lake and valley, the culture of native tribes, and the future of the lake.

“Leto” – the $10,000 tagged lake trout – is still lurking in the dark, deep, and cold depths of the lake. There are three $5,000 lake trout, six worth $1,000, and more than 9,000 with values from $100-$500. Jason Mahlen turned in a $100 tagged lake trout on Sunday.

Total fish count at this time is at 17,272. Friday’s total was 1,276, Saturday’s was 803, and Sunday’s was 980. Cold rain and some wind hampered the anglers on Saturday. It was rough going for them. Sunday brought rain, wind and snow in the morning, but by evening, skies were clearing and the water was calm.

Kolton Turner, Jason Mahlen and Gene Corne of Kalispell are tied in the popular category for the Smallest Lake Trout at this time. Each has turned in 166mm (6.5”) lake trout.

Kolton Turner of Kalispell is in the number-one spot in the Top Twenty Angler Category with at total of 1,175 and 11 100-fish days; next is Bob Turner of Kalispell with 1042 total and six 100-fish days; Jason Mahlen of Kalispell is third with 938 entries and seven 100-fish days; Clint Speer of Kalispell is fourth at 657; and Jerry Benson of Plains is fifth with 604.

Leading the Ladies Category is angler Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 92, followed by Corrine McCubbins of Kalispell with 69, Shirley Batz of Kalispell with 46, Melissa Triano of Bigfork with 24, and Janine Kowalski of Frenchtown with 17.

Brodie Smith of Kalispell has caught 268 for first place in the 13-17 Category; he’s trailed by Kennedy Yang of Missoula with 31, Lane Brazda of Missoula with 14, Matthew Mitts of Kalispell with 12, and Lucia Savoia of Missoula with 1.

The 12 & Under Category leader is Eli Yang of Missoula with 31, followed by Mason Cusker of Bigfork with 4, Gage Spring of Alberton with 3, and James Kuchera of Kalispell with 2.

 Michael Benson is leading the 70 & Over with 524 total. Larry Ashwell has landed 383, followed by Felix Gauci with 307, Jack Kirkland with 282, and Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 235.

Weekend winners were: Michael Benson, $200; and Terry Krogstad, Michael Benson, Bryan Long, and Tristan Persico of Missoula, each reeling in $100.

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.

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 11. There is no entry fee.

Contact Cindy Benson at 406-270-3386 or cindy.benson@cskt.org to get signed up.