Records continue to fall in Spring Mack Days
Anglers continued to add to the record number of lake trout caught in the Mack Days’ eight-year history.
Through seven weekends, the 1,095 anglers – also a Mack Days’ record, have turned in 20,829 mackinaw, which shatters the previous high of 14,451 caught in the 2007 Fall Mack Days. With the event being lengthened from seven weekends to 11 for the first time this spring, who knows how many lake trout will be caught.
The 911 lake trout caught through seven weekends by Mack Days’ leader Stephen Naethe is also a new record, breaking Mike Benson’s mark of 847 through 21 days set in the 2007 fall event. While the Pablo teenager still holds the top angler, top youth angler and largest fish prizes. He saw his lead in the small fish category slip away this weekend. Whitefish’s Leonard Bowen caught a 7-inch lake trout and Hot Springs’ Ryan Reed holds the second spot with his 7.48-inch catch.
Eleven of the record-breaking number of anglers turned in their 50-fish limit Friday, which is also a new Mack Days’ record. Nearly 1,400 fish were turned in Friday, but Saturday the winds brought anglers of the lake, with several boats being stranded in the boat ramp areas. Anglers were having some success before the winds whipped up Saturday, turning in 638 lake trout. Sunday was a little breezy, but the fishing was good, with 1,470 lake trout and seven anglers catching the 50-fish limit.
Naethe leads all anglers with a 48.2 fifteen-day average. Steven Benson (45.6) is in second place. Mike Benson (39.4), Polson’s David McDaniels (39.4) and Arlee’s Chuck Forgey (37.1) round out the top five.
Nicole Peters continues to lead the lady anglers with 209 lake trout. She is followed by Debbie O’Hara (105) and Laurie Randall (81).
Naethe leads the 13-17 youth anglers. Brady Weible (99) is in second and Terry Biere (52) is in third. Helped by a 50-fish day Friday Charlo 8-year-old Garett Vaughn leads the 12 and under youth anglers with 145 fish. He is followed by Tanner Murry (89) and St. Ignatius’ Daniel Hunt (68).
Six anglers caught $100 tagged fish and Columbia Falls’ Dan Smith and Charlo’s Jason Furhmann caught $200 tagged fish.
Mack Days is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks as part of the Flathead Lake Co-Management Plan to balance the fishery of Flathead Lake by slowly reducing non-native lake trout and increasing numbers of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout. Anglers are competing for $100,000 in cash and prizes to be given away at the conclusion of the event.
As their totals go up anglers receive more in bonus amounts at the end of the event but all it takes is one ticket in the drawing to win one of the cash prizes that will be drawn for. The cash prizes begin at $1,000 and go to $200. There are several ways to win – smallest fish, largest fish, most fish. The event ends May 23 with a fish fry and the awards.