POLSON – What Nicole Peters was given for Mother’s Day, we have no idea.
It’s what she got for herself that made waves on Flathead Lake Sunday – a 45-inch, 38.4-pound lake trout that took over as the largest one caught yet during Spring Mack Days.
Fishing with her husband and son, it took Peters 45 minutes to bring in the lunker from a depth of 225 feet.
Longer than the state record for lake trout by 2 1/2 inches, Peters’ fish was still shy of the weight needed to break the mark. In 2004 Ruth Barber caught a lake trout measuring 42 1/2 inches, but weighing 42.6 pounds.
The big fish caught by the Missoula woman on Sunday was part of the most successful weekend at Mack Days yet – a harvest of 4,130, bringing the total after nine weekends to a record 28,467.
Pablo teenager Stephen Naethe – who had the largest fish caught this spring until Peters landed hers – continues to top all anglers with 1,174 lake trout.
The 17-year-old’s 41 3/4-inch, 30.4-pounder caught in March had held up as the biggest – until Mother’s Day, that is.
Still, Naethe added two more 50-fish days, his 15th and 16th for catching his limit, guaranteeing himself at least a share of first place, if not the championship.
The rules state that places will be determined not by total fish caught, but by all anglers’ 15 best days (out of a possible 32) on the water.
So Naethe’s average is now officially 50, a mark that can be tied but can’t be beat.
Second-place Steven Benson of Columbia Falls can still catch the teenager. Benson became the second angler to top 1,000 fish at 1,016, and he recorded his 12th “perfect” day over the tournament’s ninth weekend.
Benson is averaging just under 49 fish over his 15 best days, and will have five more days to get the three 50-lake trout days he needs to tie Naethe.
The 15-best rule – designed to encourage participation by those who can’t fish all 33 days – means official places don’t always match total fish caught.
In the latter, Michael Benson of Lonepine has 841, David McDaniel of Polson has 827, Charles Forgey of Arlee is at 756, followed by Jerry Benson of Plains (629), Craig Morigeau of Polson (622), Roger Smart of Ronan (611), Tyson Atkinson of Charlo (571) and David Long of Columbia Falls (554).
By average, it goes Naethe (50), Steven Benson (48.93) McDaniel (45.73), Forgey (41.4), Michael Benson (41.13), Long (36.93), Jerry Benson (34.67), Morigeau (34.6), Smart (29.07) and Sid Bitney of Kalispell (26.53).
Peters, who with her husband Don missed a month of the tournament while on a vacation trip, still leads the women’s division with 289. Laurie Randall of St. Ignatius is second at 200.
In the two youth divisions, Naethe will again easily win the 13-17 aged category. Brady Weible of Charlo is second at 160.
Garett Vaughan of Charlo is in first in the 12-and-under group with 209. Tanner Murry of Columbia Falls is second at 116.
Spring Mack Days wraps up May 23 with a fish fry at Blue Bay. More than 1,000 anglers are entered.