A record total of 40,357 lake trout were caught by 220 anglers on Flathead Lake over the 51 days of the 2019 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event, which concluded on May 19.
The previous high number of 38,085 entries was from the 2012 spring event when 330 anglers caught one or more lake trout. The 2018 Event had 36,318 entries and 2017 had a total of 37,195.
Kalispell angler Jason Mahlen blazed through the event with a record total of 2,134 lake trout entries and a perfect record-setting 100 fish 15-day average. Friday was a rough day on the water and he missed the 100 on that disappointing day turning in 55 entries which for most anglers would be a great day.
Saturday was a milder day on the water and Mahlen turned in early with his last perfect 100-fish day to finish out the event.
Kolton Turner of Kalispell came in second with 1,822 fish and 91.8-fish average. Other top finishers were: 3) David McDaniel of Polson-1,680 and 79.33; 4) Bob Turner of Kalispell-1,490 and 77.47; 5) Mike Benson of Lonepine-1,381 and 70.06; 6) Ken Varga of Kalispell- 1,108 and 64.26; 7) Jerry Benson of Plains-1,126 and 63.8; 8) Felix Gauci of Stevensville-953 and 62.06; 9) Scott Mahlen of Kalispell-1,142 and 61.93; and 10) Matt Guckenberg of Kalispell with 1,030 and 57.4. Top 10 anglers are placed on their 15-day average.
Another record was set by Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 589 entries in the Ladies Category. Second place went to youth angler Leah Banyai of Kalispell with 389. Other top finishers were: 3) Debbie Paine of Polson with 149; 4) Connie Jones of Kalispell with 149; and 5) Lisa Cloo of Clinton with 75.
Mack Days was a week late beginning on March 22 instead of the 15th because boat ramps were frozen, so the event ended a week late.
Spirit of the Event awards went to Bob Turner, Kolton Turner, and Tom Kemppainen of Kalispell. They were the three men in a boat who broke a path through the ice on March 22 at Yellow Bay to give anglers the opportunity to get out on the water the following day. They spent five-and-a-half hours chipping through the ice to get out to open water. Mack Days would have been set back in fish totals if they had not forged their way out to the open water.
The Golden Angler first place award went to Larry Karper of Florence with 628 entries. Second went to Larry Ashwell of Missoula with 543.
Future expert anglers in the two Youth Categories: Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell was first in the 13-17 Category with 545. Second went to Emmett Ludahl of Kalispell with 32, third Abby Hodgson of Kalispell with 20, fourth Wyatt Thompson of Bigfork with five, and John Ross Jr. of Stevensville was sixth with four. The 12 and Under Category leader was Brodie Smith of Kalispell with 167, Fjord Borgen of Columbia Falls was second with 52, and Fisher Whitaker of Kalispell finished third with 33.
Smallest lake trout winners were Kent Lowe of Polson with a 145mm lake trout and Jerry Benson with a 176mm laker. There was no large lake trout entry.
Heaviest fish under 30 inches on the last day was won by Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls with a 6-pound lake trout. Second place went to Ben Carson of Stevensville with a 4.5-pound lake trout.
Darren Borgen of Columbia Falls won the Early Entry award.
For a list of winners and other information go to www.mackdays.com.
Mack Days is used as a tool to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. This is a plan supported by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to increase the numbers of native fish for the future generations of the tribe and state of Montana.
2019 Fall Mack Days will begin on Sept. 20 and will end on Nov. 17.
The event is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.