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Spring Mack Days celebrates fourth week

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News from CSKT Natural Resouces Department 

FLATHEAD LAKE – Kalispell angler and five-time Spring Mack Days top angler Jason Mahlen is expanding his lake trout lead by a slim margin in the 2019 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event.  

Jason turned in two perfect 100-limits on Friday and Saturday and then added 60 entries on Sunday for a total of 930 lake trout. In 2018, Mahlen finished the event with a 91.56-record and eighteen-day average turning in a total of 2,028 lake trout. 

Kolton Turner, of Kalispell, is in second place in the top-ten category, turning in a very impressive 901 lake trout. Third place is David McDaniel, of Polson, with 734 lake trout entries. Bob Turner is in fourth place with 680 entries. Mike Benson, of Lonepine, is in fifth place with 677 entries. Ken Varga, of Kalispell, is in sixth place with 652 entries. Tyler Varga is in seventh place with 626 entries.  Jerry Benson, of Plains, is in eighth place with 505 entries. Scott Mahlen, of Kalispell, is in ninth place with 496 entries, and Scott Bombard, of Missoula, is sitting at 10th with 473 entries.

Julie Perkins, of Kalispell, continues to hold the lead in the ladies category with 244. In second place is Leah Banyai, of Kalispell, with 196 entries. Connie Jones, of Kalispell, is in third place with 64 entries. Debbie Paine, of Polson, has 62 entries for fourth place, and Lisa Cloo, of Clinton, is in fifth place.  

Florence angler Larry Karper holds a slim lead in the 70 and over category with 223 entries. In second place is Larry Ashwell with 217 entries. Gary Perleberg, of Bigfork, is in third place with 126 entries. John Gauci, of Florence, is in fourth with 108 entries. There is a tie for fifth place with Bob Christensen and Roger Brewer, each with 17 entries. 

Matt Guckenberg Jr., of Kalispell, leads the 13-17-age group with 233 entries, and Leah Banyai is sitting at second place with 196 entries. 

The 12 and under group leader is Fjord Borgen with 23 entries, Fisher Whitaker, of Kalispell, is second with 22 entries. Brodie Smith, of Kalispell, is third with 20 entries. HD of Arlee has 17 entries for fourth place, and Gunner Whitaker, of Kalispell, is in fifth place with 10 lake trout.

Many anglers are reporting that they are catching and releasing bull trout in all areas of the lake. We remind anglers to carefully check out every fish for a positive identification before placing it in the cooler. Bull trout will seem stronger than a lake trout and you will feel it in the fight. If you suspect a bull trout on the line, bring the fish in slowly. Turn the fish over and look at the back and sides of it. Bull trout have rounded spotting on the back and sides with pink or orange colored spots on the sides. Sometimes the spotting will not show very well. Anglers need to look close. Young bull trout tails can fool you by looking like the tail has a “v” in it, like a lake trout, but if you spread it out you will see it will be flatter and even.  

The head of a bull trout will be broader than that of the lake trout and there will be no spots on the dorsal fin. Remember, no black; put it back. 

If you catch several bull trout in an area, move out of that area. Don’t keep catching and releasing them. A fish with a lure deep in its throat is better off if you just clip the line close to the mouth of the fish. Their stomach acids will dissolve the hook. If you question the identification of the fish, don’t take a chance: throw it back. It is unlawful to possess a bull trout. We are required to turn bull trout into the proper authorities.

Anglers have turned in a total of 18,200 entries during the first four weekends of the event. Five weeks are left. It is not too late to get involved. Five hundred eighteen anglers are registered and one hundred sixty-five have turned in one or more lake trout entries. There were 3,722 fish entries the fourth weekend. 

The $10,000 tagged lake trout is still out there, along with three $5,000 fish, five-$1,000 ones and over 9,000 with values from $500 to $100. Turning in a $100 tagged lake trout the fourth week were: Steve Benson, of Spokane Valley; Kalispell anglers Tyler and Ken Varga and Bob and Kolton Turner. Larry Ashwell of Missoula and Debbie Paine of Polson turned in tagged lake trout with values of $200.

Jack Kirkland of Missoula lost a special lure Larry Karper gave him on Saturday after a feisty fish took it and wrapped his fishing line around the prop. On Sunday, Jack was fishing fifty yards away from Saturday’s mishap when he felt something and started reeling in his line. You guessed it. He had his line from the day before along with a fish but not a lake trout. 

Mack Days events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used by fisheries managers to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. There are up to $225,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on May 19th. There are several ways to win in the event and you don’t have to have hundreds of entries to qualify. One ticket is all it takes to have a chance to qualify in the drawing. Go to for all of the information listed under the events tab. If you have questions about the event, call 406-270-3386 or 406-883-2700 ex. 7282 or 7294. 


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