Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake, with the city of Polson in the foreground.

The fifth weekend of the 2019 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event on Flathead Lake ended on a sunny Easter Sunday with 4,145 lake trout entries for the weekend. Friday there were 1,233 entries, Saturday the total came to 1,543, and Sunday’s total was 1,369. The total for the first five weekends is 23,673 fish. 

Jason Mahlen of Kalispell is continuing to build his lead over the other Top Ten Anglers. His total of perfect 100 fishing days is at eight with his entries at 1,230 over 14 days of fishing. Last spring after five weeks Mahlen was at 1,154 with six 100 fish days and a final total of 2,208, which was a new record for the event.

Kolton Turner, another Kalispell angler, is at 1,190 entries and five perfect 100 days. Bob Turner has 959 for third; David McDaniel, Polson, 950 for fourth; Mike Benson, Lonepine, 828 for fifth; Ken Varga, Kalispell, 730 for sixth; Jerry Benson, Plains, 730 for seventh; Tyler Varga 705 for eighth; Scott Mahlen, Kalispell, 703 for ninth; Matt Guckenberg 584 for 10th.

Larry Karper of Florence in the 70 & Over category is in the lead with 306; second is Larry Ashwell, Missoula, with 272; third is Gary Perleberg, Bigfork, 237; fourth is John Gauci, of Florence, with 137; and in fifth place is Ralph Johnson of Columbia Falls with 28.

Fjord Borgen of Columbia Falls leads the 12 & Under with 37; Brodie Smith of Kalispell has 33; third is Fisher Whitaker, of Kalispell, with 32; fourth is HD, of Arlee, with 17; and fifth is Gunner Whitaker of Kalispell with 12.

Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell in the 13-17 category has 340 to lead. Second is Leah Banyai, Kalispell, with 249; third is Abby Hodgson, of Kalispell, with 20; fourth is Wyatt Thompson, of Bigfork, with five; and Emmett Ludahl, of Kalispell, has four.

Julie Perkins continues to lead women anglers with 348; followed by Leah Banyai with 249; Debbie Paine, of Polson, is third with 71; Connie Jones, of Kalispell, is fourth with 64; and Lisa Cloo, of Missoula, has 47.

The second day of the Bucket of Fish was on Saturday. Anglers in a boat put their four heaviest lake trout under 30 inches in a bucket for a weight. The winning bucket came in at 29.25 pounds from the Paine/Nelson team of Polson; second was Dwayne Whitaker, of Kalispell, with 21.6; third was the team of Krogstad/Perkins, of Kalispell, with 21.2; the Perlebergs of Bigfork were in fourth with 18.5; and the Smith/Johnson team was fifth at 16.1.

The third and final bucket day will be May 5. 

The smallest lake trout category has two new entries. Jerry Benson of Plains turned in a 146 mm (5 ¼ inch) lake trout on Sunday, and Kent Lowe of Polson had a 145 mm lake trout on Saturday. There is still no large lake trout entry. The large fish has to be over 36 inches and more than 24 pounds to qualify.

Turning in $100 tagged lake trout were Kalispell anglers: Matt Guckenberg x 3, Larry Ludahl, Bob Turner, and Ken Varga, Larry Karper-Florence, Larry Ashwell-Missoula, and Dave Hoback of Arlee. Two lucky anglers from Kalispell, Bob Stewart and Travis Banyai, turned in $200 tags.

The $10,000 tagged fish continues to elude anglers. Three $5,000 tagged lake trout and five $1,000 lake trout along with more than 9,000 with values from $500-$100 are also still in Flathead Lake. Fifty three tagged lake trout have been turned in so far with values from $500-$100.

There are four more weeks to participate in the event. Anglers can fish Tuesday through Sundays. Go to www.mackdays.com for information, rules, pickup times and places, fish ID, etc.

Mack Days are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks. There is Up to $225,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on May 19. The fishing event is a tool to reduce the number of nonnative lake trout in Flathead Lake and increase the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout populations. Trying to decrease the lake trout population is an important management strategy in the effort to increase numbers of native fish in Flathead Lake.

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