FLATHEAD LAKE — The 2020 Fall Mack Days Fishing Event with up to $200,000 in cash and prizes sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ended this past weekend, on November 15 with a total of 14,821 lake trout entries turned in by 138 lake trout anglers. Four hundred thirty-eight anglers were registered in the event. The event was ten weeks long making it the longest Mack Days Event ever.
The 2020 fall events total entries were not the best or the worst of any previous events. The 2015 Fall Event brought in 19,540 entries in eight weeks making it the highest total event, with the 2014 fall event total entries of 12,888, making it the lowest in eight weeks.
Weather over the course of the event went from the extreme of hot sunny days to cold snowy and windy days. The anglers endured the best and the worst. The end of the event came just in time for them. Twelve inches of snow fell during the last week making it impossible to come in and get up the boat ramp without some assistance. Snow disappeared when the warmer winds blew. Rough raging waters were the norm during most of the event.
Congratulations to every angler who competed in this event. If you caught one fish or many you helped to make a difference for future generations of anglers by helping to decrease the numbers of the non-native lake trout and increase the populations of native fish in Flathead Lake.
In 2006 Mike Benson started fishing the Events. His nickname became “one fish” because that was all he could catch. He finally decided either he was going to figure it out or he was done. It took time and perseverance and he figured out what worked for him. There are tips on the website for everyone if they are shore anglers, trollers, or they may like to jig. The Mack Days staff encourages anglers to write their own story and learn what works best for them and to remember that you may have to change it up when the fish tell you to! The same thing may not work all of the time.
Mike Benson of Lonepine completed his thirtieth Mack Days Fishing Event winning the top angler place with a total of 1,036 lake trout entries and an eighteen day average of 49.06. This is his seventh 1st place finish in the Fall Events along with six second place finishes and one fifth place. Sam Cusker of Bigfork came in 2nd with 712 entries and 39.56 average, 3rd place was Larry Ashwell of Missoula with 642 entries and 32.61avgerage, 4th place was Scott Bombard of Missoula with 598 entries and 30.5 average, 5th place was John Gauci of Florence with 517 entries and 27.67 average, 6th place was Terry Krogstad of Kalispell with 578 entries and 27.06 average, 7th place was Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 510 entries and 24.61 average, 8th place was Steve Benson from Spokane Valley with 451 entries and 24.0 average, 9th place was Larry Karper of Florence with 418 entries and 22.4 average, and 10th place was Richard Kreis of Huson with 422 entries and 20.06 average.
Anglers in the Top Ten category placed by their best 18-day average. If an angler placed in the Top Ten category, they give up their placing in all other categories (Ladies, 70 and Over, or any Youth). In this fall’s event, that included Julie Perkins, Larry Ashwell, Larry Karper, and John Gauci.
Laurie Kreis of Huson took the lead in the Ladies with a total of 350 entries, 2nd place was Gina Schiff of Whitefish with 89 entries, 3rd place was Kimberly Mack of Helena with 66 entries, Kim McMillie of Polson was 4th with 52 entries, and 5th place went to Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls with 49 entries.
Winning the 70 and Over Category is Jack Kirkland of Missoula with 298 entries, 2nd place went to Marty Herak of Polson with 128 entries, 3rd place went to Mike Cosby of Thompson Falls with 75 entries, 4th place went to Bob Christensen of Missoula with 61 entries, and 5th place went to Bernie Olson of Lakeside with 45 entries.
Youth angler winners, Tripp Bick of Arlee in the 12 and under with took 1st place with 13 entries, Kaden Blowers of Missoula took 2nd with 6 entries, Gage Spring Alberton placed 3rd with four entries, Brodie Smith of Kalispell and Zander Oliver of Missoula each had one lake trout entry. Jeff Devlin of Polson won the 13-17 group with 14 entries, 2nd place went to Makenna Garrett of Missoula with eight entries, 3rd place went to Kadin Kammerer of Missoula with seven entries, and 4th place went to Wyatt Thompson of Bigfork with two entries.
Weekend winners were: David McDaniel of Polson X 2, Richard Kreis X 2, and Sam Cusker. The $10,000 lake trout eluded anglers and is still out there. No angler turned in any of the tagged fish with $1,000 values or more. Gilbert R. Michel of Charlo and Bill Swaney of New Town ND turned in $100 tagged lake trout and Mike Benson turned in a $200 laker. The $100-$500 tagged lake trout from this event will have new dollar amounts assigned to them before the Spring Mack Days Event and new fish will have the higher values assigned to them.
Kolton Turner of Kalispell was first draw in the lottery drawing followed by Terry Krogstad. Terry also drew the second draw. Anglers are limited to two draws in the lottery drawing and in the cash merchandise drawings. Visit the website, www.mackdays.com for a list of the winners.
Thank you to the very hardworking anglers who make Mack Days the success it is. You are unrelenting anglers, who love to fish and are successful at bringing in lake trout. It takes time and hard work to become a successful angler on Flathead Lake!
The 2021 Spring Mack Days will begin next year from March 19 and end May 16.