FLATHEAD LAKE – What a grueling week of fishing for weary Mack Days anglers on Flathead Lake. Ole man winter just doesn’t give up and they have felt the effects on the lake. From Monday to Thursday, the fishery brought in four lake trout that were caught out of sheer determination. Biting winds and cold temperatures kept most anglers at home, walking the shore, sitting in vehicles hoping for a release from the wind or in campers playing cribbage.
Friday’s fishing was the best of the week, the temperatures were better and the wind died down in the afternoon, with 615 lake trout entered. Saturday’s winds were stronger over the southern half of the lake, with anglers exiting but having to turn around and return with frozen anchor systems and frozen reels. One fisherman said “the boat looked like it was from a northern TV show with the boat’s ice covered all over”. North end anglers were able to find areas to hang out fishing without getting too shaken up, but it’s doable. Anchor system batteries wear off quickly when the water is choppy and once your batteries can’t hold the boat any longer it’s time to get in, which has happened several times over the past weekend . A total of 247 lake trout were brought in on Saturday.
On Sunday, the south end of the lake was fishable and the north end was hampered by wind and waves. The total for Sundays was 288 lake trout entries. The last entries arrived at 8:45 p.m., from fishermen who go out at dawn. These anglers who fish Mack Days are a hardy group of men and women who love to fish and help increase the number of native fish in the lake.
Spring 2022 Mack Days is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and is used as a tool to reduce the number of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Up to $225,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded at the end of the event on May 15.
The $10,000 tagged lake trout, aka “The Captain”, is still waiting for the right lure. The $10,000 lake trout could be yours. There’s also (3) $5,000 and (5) $1,000 plus a sponsored RV Bretz and $1,000 tagged sea trout. The tagging of lake trout began in 2007. The tags are still legible and are still useful to anglers. There are over 9,000 tagged lake trout worth $100 to $500. High value lake trout from past events are re-evaluated at values of $100 to $500 and new high value tags are implanted in new fish. Data on tagged fish are used by biologists. They are measured when scored and when returned. They move and locations when marked and when captured are also used. No tagged fish were returned during the week.
Kalispell’s Kolton Turner continues to lead the Top Ten Anglers with 836 lake trout entries. Jason Mahlen from Kalispell is 2nd with 788, 3rd is Bob Turner from Kalispell with 661, 4th is Steven Benson from Spokane Valley WA with 413, 5th is Jerry Benson from Plains with 362, 6th is Larry Karper from Florence with 357, 7th is Mike Benson of Lonepine with 349, 8th is Clint Speer of Kalispell with 348, 9th is Sam Cusker of Bigfork with 330, 10th is Travis Banyai of Lakeside with 307. 11th is Scott Bombard of Missoula with 288, 12th is Larry Ashwell of Missoula with 274, 13th is Tom Kemppainen of Columbia Falls with 251, 14th is Hank McLeod of Kalispell with 241, 15th is Gene Corne of Kalispell with 239, 16th is Larry Ludahl of Kalispell with 222, 17th is Andy Reed of Kalispell with 209, 18th is Ken Varga of Kalispell with 189, 19th is Jack Kirkland of Missoula with 178, and in 20th place is Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 156.
Leading the 13-17 angler Brodie Smith of Kalispell with 29 entries, Matt Guckenberg Jr of Kalispell has 12 entries, Karson Cox of Charlo has 6 entries and Michael Palmer of Kalispell has 2 entries. The 12 and under leader is Wyatt Best of Florence with 6 entries, Gage Spring of Alberton has 4 entries, Tripp Bick of Arlee, Martin Phan of Kalispell, Allydia Yang and Ava Yang of Missoula all have 2 entries, Henry Phan of Kalispell and Bridgett Reed of Kalispell each has an entry.
Julie Perkins of Kalispell leads the women’s category with 126 entries. Julie caught a large lake trout on Friday, which was the only fish for her that cold and windy day. It gave him a good fight in really, really choppy waters. After finally putting it in the boat she measured and it was over 36 inches but not heavy enough to place it as the biggest lake trout. She released the big fish into the waters. Connie Jones of Kalispell has 64 entries, Rebecca Spring of Alberton has 18, Ia Thao of Missoula has 11 and Amanda Hoback of Arlee has 5 lake trout entries.
Anglers start earning bonus dollars once they have eleven fish entries. The amount increases every 25 fish as your total increases.
The second day of the three Bucket of Fish Days was Saturday. Boat Demmon from Missoula with Chris and Jennifer along with Clint Arneson from Lolo and Chad Berg from Stevensville turned over a 25.6 pound bucket of four lake trout under 30 inches. Bob and Kolton Turner were 2nd at 16.9, 3rd Clint Speer and Gene Corne at 11.25, Steve Benson was 4th at 9.2 and 5th was Andy Reed at 8.85. The 3rd and last day of Bucket Days is May 1st.
The weekend draw winners were: $200 = Scott Bombard and $100 = Gene Corne, Jason Mahlen, Steven Benson and Jack Kirkland.
Registrations continue to be taken until the last day of the event. Admission is free. Each fish qualifies anglers for lottery draws that start at $2,000. Check out the categories, rules and bonus table at www.mackdays.com or call Cindy Benson at (406) 270-3386.
Tight lines everyone!