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Spring Mack Days results reported

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News from CSKT Natural Resources Department

FLATHEAD LAKE – The 2020 Spring Mack Days fishing event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ended on June 28 with a total of 27,331 lake trout entries. 

The six-week event was three weeks shorter than any other spring event, but the weekly average total of 4,555 is higher than previous years, which range from 3,804 to 4,484 entries. Two hundred thirty-four anglers turned in one or more lake trout entries.  

Up to $225,000 was awarded to anglers in different categories. The top-ten angler winner was Jason Mahlen, of Kalispell, who has been top angler six times in past events. Jason’s total was 1,381, and his 12-day average was 99.92. 

Top ten anglers are placed by their best 12-day average. A counting error or an escaped lake trout kept him from having a perfect 100 average. When he turned in his catch on one of the days, there were 99 fish in the cooler – not the 100 he thought he had. The error has happened before to anglers and is very disappointing at the end of a long day of fishing. He did have 11 days of 100-fish limits, which is phenomenal. Not many anglers can reach that number day after day. 

There are a few anglers who may give him a race in the future. Sam Cusker, of Bigfork, came in at 1,133 and an 89.42 average. Cusker had seven 100-fish days. The third-place winner was Kolton Turner, of Kalispell, with 1,348 and an 89.17 average. It was a close race there.  He had two 100-fish days and five in the nineties. 

Bob Turner, of Kalispell, was fourth with 1,194 and an average of 80.59. He had two perfect days. Mike Benson, of Lonepine, was fifth with 1,110 and four perfect days and a 79.34 average. 

Matt Guckenberg Sr., of Kalispell, came in sixth with 790 (62.84 average) with one perfect 100. Jack Kirkland, of Missoula, was seventh with 815 and 61.75 average. Eighth place went to Larry Karper, of Florence, with 735 and 57.59. Ninth place went to Ken Varga, of Kalispell, with 601 and 48.34, and tenth place went to Larry Ashwell, of Missoula, with 668 and 47.34. 

The ladies winner was Julie Perkins, of Kalispell, with 360. Second place went to Nicole Peters, of Missoula, with 86. Third was Connie Jones, of Kalispell, with 59. Debbie Paine, of Polson, was fourth with 49. Fifth was Laurie Kreis, of Florence, with 47. 

Future anglers will soon be giving the adults a run for top places. These young anglers love fishing and being out on the water. They even out-fish the adults on some days, which makes the adults proud, but it is also like watching your teenager drive off by themselves the first time. Matt Guckenberg Jr., of Kalispell, won the 13-to-17 category with 403. 

Second was Leah Banyai, of Kalispell, with 41. Wyatt Thompson, of Bigfork, is third with 35. Alden Wood, of Kalispell, has 24 for fourth, and fifth was Shalaki Soukup, of Polson, along with Madison Mahlen, of Kalispell. 

Brodie Smith, of Kalispell, was first in the 12-and-under category with 180 entries. Second was Colton Marrone, of Kalispell, with 102, and Waylon Jochim, of Missoula, was third with 35. 

Larry Karper won the 70-and-over category with his 735. Larry Ashwell was second with 668. They both won in the top-ten category, so first place goes to Don Peters of Missoula with 112, and second place went to Ralph Johnson, of Columbia Falls, with 33. 

There were several anglers in the 80-plus-age-group fishing in the event. Johnson happens to be one of them, and he is an excellent angler and has been competing for several years.  

Paul Jochim won the largest-fish category with his 38.5 inch, 25.25 pound fish. The smallest fish winners were: Larry Ashwell, of Missoula, with a 166mm (6.5 inch) lake trout and Ellis Surratt of Huson with a 155mm (six inch) fish.   

Winners of Siberian coolers were Marty Herak, of Polson, for Monday through Thursday, and Felix Gauci, of Stevensville, for the Friday to Sunday fishing. 

Morgan Amdahl, of Kalispell, with 132 entries, and Toby Thompson, of Bigfork, with 198 entries were drawn first and are $1,000 winners in the lottery drawing. Cooper Harris, of Richmond, Virginia, with 23 entries, was a $600 winner. John Malatare, of Arlee, with seven entries, was a $500 lottery-prize winners. Thirty-five lottery-drawing winners were done electronically. The first winner in the cash instead of merchandise group goes to Josh Morigeau, of Helena, with $500. There were 32 cash prizes drawn electronically. Go to for a complete list of prizewinners. 

Fall Mack Days will begin Sept. 8 and end on Nov. 15. It will be a longer event to make up days lost in the spring. The events are used as a management tool by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. Thank you to the anglers who make these events successful. You are making a difference for future generations of anglers on Flathead Lake. 


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