Familiar names vie for the lead at Spring Mack Days

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Montana’s spring weather has finally arrived. Anglers were relieved to have calmer sunny days to fish on Flathead Lake during the sixth weekend of Spring Mack Days 2022. All three weekend fishing days were warmer and the water was more stable .

There is a neck and neck race of experienced anglers vying for the lead in the event. The top two anglers have each held first place before and each won the event. Current leader Kolton Turner won in 2021, with Jason Mahlen second. Kolton finished second in 2019 and third in 2020. Jason, currently second, has won first place at Spring Mack Days events seven times. He was also second twice and finished fourth.

There are three weeks left in the event, which ends on May 15. Registrations will be taken until the last day and there is no registration fee.

A total of 14,671 lake trout entries have been received so far this spring. Friday’s total was 786 entries. There were 769 entries on Saturday and 726 on Sunday.

“The Captain,” a tagged fish worth $10,000, is still somewhere in Flathead Lake. Any lake trout angler would love to have it on their line. There are also three tagged fish worth $5,000 and five worth $1,000, plus a $1,000 tagged fish sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine. There are also over 9,000 fish worth $100 to $500. Jake North of Denton and Scott Bombard of Missoula caught lake trout tagged at $200 last week.

The last of three Bucket Day contests will take place on Sunday, May 1. Anglers place their four largest lake trout under 30 inches in a bucket, and the heaviest bucket wins a $200 prize.

Ranking

In total: Kolton Turner from Kalispell, 975 entries; Jason Mahlen of Kalispell, 970; Bob Turner of Kalispell, 773; Steven Benson of Spokane Valley, Washington, 509 entries; Clint Speer of Kalispell, 461; Jerry Benson of Plains, 442 entries; Sam Cusker of Bigfork, 425; Mike Benson of Lonepine, 408; Kalispell’s Travis Banyai, 362.

Ladies: Julie Perkins of Kalispell, 164 entries; Connie Jones of Kalispell, 69; Rebecca Spring of Alberton, 18; Ia Thao of Missoula, 11; Amanda Hoback of Arlee, five years old.

70 and over: Larry Karper from Florence, 426 entries; Mike Benson of Lonepine, 408; Larry Ashwell of Missoula, 334; Jack Kirkland of Missoula, 248; Jean Gauci of Florence, 44 years old.

13-17 years old: Brodie Smith from Kalispell, 37 entries; Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell, 12; Karson Cox of Charlo, six; Michael Palmer of Kalispell, two.

12 and under: Wyatt Best of Florence, six entries; Gage Spring of Alberton, four. Tripp Bick from Arlee, Martin Phan from Kalispell and Allydia Yang and Ava Yang from Missoula both entered.

Smallest lake trout: Sam Cusker (5 inches); Bob Turner (6.25 inches).

Biggest lake trout: Jade Smith (41 inches, 25.25 pounds). The prize for the largest lake trout is $500 and is sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine of Missoula.

There are lots of ways to win in the event. Visit www.mackdays.com for more information. Registrations continue to be taken until the last day of the event. Every fish counts and is entered into the lottery draws. You can fish as many times as you want, from Monday to Sunday.

The 40th Mack Days event is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Mack Days began in 2002 and are used as a tool to reduce the numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake in order to increase the numbers of native Bull Trout and Westslope Cutthroat. Flathead Lake was once a bull trout and westslope trout fishery. Today, these fish populations represent only a small portion of where they once were.

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