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Benson edges closer to Naethe for Mack Days’ title

After the penultimate weekend of the 2010 Spring Mack Days, Columbia Falls’ Steven Benson still has a chance to catch Stephen Naethe for the top angler, but he will need to be perfect in the final weekend.

Benson caught 50 of the 1,321 lake trout turned in Friday and was one of three anglers to reach the 50-fish limit. Naethe also turned in the limit, but his best 15-day average was already at the perfect 50 mark. By catching his limit Friday, Benson improved his 15-day average to 49.4 and if he catches his limit Friday and Saturday, he will match Naethe’s 50 – Sunday’s totals do not go toward the top angler category.

Nearly 32,000 lake trout have been turned in through 10 weekends. Naethe leads all anglers with 1,317. The top angler is determined by the best 15-day average. Polson’s David McDaniels, who caught his 50-fish limit Saturday, sits in third with a 47.4 average. He is followed by Hot Springs’ Mike Benson (45.1), who along with Ronan’s Roger Smart were the only anglers to catch the limit Sunday, and Arlee’s Charles Forgey (43.13).

Charlo’s Brady Weible (174) follows Naethe in the youth 13-17 division and Charlo’s Garett Vaughan (23) leads the 12 and under group.

Nicole Peters leads the women anglers with 336, which is 100 more than St. Ignatius’ Laurie Randall. Peters also leads the large fish category with the 45-inch, 38.4-pound monster she caught in the ninth weekend.

Polson’s Roger Dilts caught a $200 tagged fish. Daniel Hunt, Frank Parot, Dan Long, Doug Bolender, Naethe, Justin Shockley, Forgey and Ray Dalke all caught tagged fish worth $100. 

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.

Check the Web site at www.mackdays.com for more information on entries, totals, and anglers standings in the event. 

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