Monday, May 27, 2024

Spring Mack Days nears conclusion with 32,000 fish

by CSKT Fisheries
| May 9, 2024 12:00 AM

With only one weekend left in the 2024 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event on Flathead Lake, anglers have entered 32,683 lake trout since the contest began March 14. The 2019 spring event holds the record fish count at 40,357.

Mack Days, which are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, are used as a management tool to reduce the numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake.

This event has one of the better tallies in Mack Days history when it comes to numbers of lake trout entered, say organizers. Friday’s total came to 1,478, Saturday’s was 922, and Sunday’s total was 532. Anglers have until this Saturday, May 11, to tally more lake trout.

Many hard-working anglers are out on the water before dawn and don’t come in till dark. They endure cold, hot, wet and wind – whatever kind of weather gets thrown at them. Last weekend came with it all, with rough waves reported by many anglers coming off the water on Saturday and Sunday and lip-locked fish. By Sunday afternoon the waters calmed but the lake trout were still pretty tight lipped, and then cold rain came!  

Kolton Turner of Kalispell has already set a new record for lake trout entries and is in first place in the Top Twenty category. His total is currently at 2,193, beating Jason Mahlen’s record of 2,134 set in 2019.

The Top Ten anglers are placed by their best 18-day average at the end of the event. Kolton has a 100-fish average. Bob Turner of Kalispell is in second with 2,005 entries and an average of 96.94; third is Jason Mahlen with 1,973 and 97.39 average; fourth is Clint Speer of Kalispell with 1,257 and 60.61 average; and fifth is Gene Corne of Kalispell, with 1,076 and an average catch of 53.39 per day.

Lady angler Julie Perkins of Kalispell is first in the Ladies Category with 291; second is Shirley Batz of Kalispell with 117; and third is Corrine McCubbins of Kalispell at 79.

Brodie Smith of Kalispell is in first place in the 13-17 age group with 421 and Eli Yang of Missoula is first in the 12 and under age group with 31.

Weekend winners were: Terry Krogstad, $200; and Jason Kellmer of Missoula, Tyler Varga, Laurie Kreis of Huson, and Michael Stevenson of Kalispell each winning $100.

There is still a $10,000 tagged lake trout out there, along with three $5,000 and six $1,000 tagged trout; more than 9,000 are swimming around with values from $100-$500.

Jason Mahlen and Richard Kreis of Huson each turned in $200 tagged fish; and Tom Kemppainen of Kalispell and Todd Wood of Ronan each caught $100 tagged trout.

Michael Benson is leading in the 70 & Over with 939 entries. Larry Ashwell is second with 755; third is Felix Gauci with 610; fourth is Jack Kirkland with 593; and fifth is Terry Krogstad at 537. Some of these contestants are in the Top Ten Angler category too, allowing them to choose which category they want to place in.

Jack Kirkland is still holding the largest fish entry with a 42-inch, 24.4-pound lake trout. Smallest lake trout so far is a 164mm (6.5”) entry by Gene Corne. There is a three-way tie for second with 166mm fish turned in by Jason Mahlen, Gene Corne and Kolton Turner.

The third Bucket of Fish contest was won by Cole Williams of Kalispell with four fish weighing a total of 26.6 pounds. Jeremy Williams of Missoula was second with 23.35 pounds, followed by Matt and Collin Mitts of Kalispell with 21.25, Rick Skates of Big Arm with 18.65, and Carey Hauser of Kalispell with 18.2. 

Up to $225,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on Saturday. It is still not too late to enter and get your name in the drawings. Every fish gives anglers a chance to win in the lottery drawings, catch a tagged lake trout, or the largest or smallest lake trout.

All entries have to be turned in by 3 p.m. Saturday at Blue Bay, when CSKT hosts a small awards ceremony. The last day is a separate day with its own awards. All other categories end on Friday. Lottery prizes and category placings will be posted on Saturday.