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Stephen Naethe shows off his 30-pound lake trout he caught during Flathead Lake’s spring Mack Days. Courtesy photo

The fish weighed 30 pounds - and it took 30 minutes to reel in the sucker last weekend.

Seventeen-year-old Pablo angler Stephen Naethe snagged the biggest fish caught so far during the spring Mack Days fishing competition at Flathead Lake, when he landed a lake trout measuring 41 3/4 inches and weighing 30.4 pounds, according to Mack Days manager Cindy Benson.

It took the teen 30 minutes to reel in the fish from the depths of Flathead Lake. It was the largest lake trout the teen has ever caught, Benson reported.

The fish was released back into the lake after it was measured.

The catch surpassed Alberton angler William Brovolds' 25.8-pound trout, which he caught March 20.

According to the Mack Days Web site, the record lake trout was caught in 2004 by Ruth Barber. It weighed 42 pounds, 11.8 ounces and was 42.5 inches long and 31.5 inches around.

Naethe, the reigning Mack Days champion, also leads the pack in terms of number of trout caught. After the end of the third of 11 weekends of competition, Naethe leads with 426 fish. The next closest fisherman is Steve Benson of Columbia Falls with 303 trout.

So far, a total of 9,822 lake trout have been captured. There are 972 anglers registered in the spring event.

Mack Days is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Mack Days is part of the Flathead Lake management plan to balance the fishery of Flathead Lake by reducing non-native lake trout and increasing the number of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

Anglers compete for $100,000 in cash and prizes. Mack Days runs from March 12 to May 23.

Reporter Chelsi Moy can be reached at 523-5260 or at


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