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Fall Mack Days begins Oct. 1

If anyone ever needed any extra incentive to go out to the lake on a beautiful fall day in search of a trophy lake trout, the Confederated Salish and Tribe have given them one.

The prize money in the 2010 Mack Days has doubled from 2009. The CSKT will be giving out $100,000 in cash and prizes in the 2010 Fall Mack Days, which starts Oct. 1. 

There is no entry fee for the seven-weekend event running on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to Nov. 14. Anglers will get a chance to reel in the tagged fish worth $5,000 or the five tagged fish worth $1,000. There will also be more than 2000 tagged fish ranging from $100-$500 lurking in the lake somewhere.

There will be bonus payouts to any angler catching 20 fish. The bonus amount increases each day you fish – up to 21 days. There is also $16,600 in lottery prizes. Money will be given to the top 10 anglers, the top three lady anglers, the top five youth anglers and top three under 12 anglers.

For a full list of prizes and rules check out the website at www.mackdays.com.

Mack Days was started in 2000 as part of a co-management plan of Flathead Lake between the CSKT and Montana. The goal of the Mack Days is to gradually decrease the non-native lake trout and restore the balance in the lake by increasing the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout numbers. The plan was set to expire this November, but has been extended another five years.

Eighty anglers showed up to the first Mack Days and caught 888 trout. The 2010 Spring Mack Days attracted a record-breaking number of anglers, who caught 34,642 lake trout. Barry Hanson, CSKT fishery biologist,  has said the event has been very successful as far as attracting fisherman, but has done little to put a dent in the lake trout population. The ratio of lake trout to bull-trout in the lake is 100-to-1, according to Hanson. 

Last year, Hanson had believed that Mack Days had reached its limit in as far as anglers it attracted and the amount of fish harvested in the event. But after putting a lot more money toward prizes and extending the Spring Mack Days from seven weeks to 11 weeks, Hanson has rethought his approach. The 34,642 lake trout caught this spring more than doubled the previous record set at a Mack Days competition.

“I don’t know what the limit is,” Hanson said.

Mack Days is just one tool that the CSKT has tried to lower the number of lake trout in the lake. They have liberalized the regulations, where people can now catch 50 fish a day. They let anglers use two rods on the lake and they have educated the public.

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