Mack Days fishing event kicks off with good fishing

by Clark Fork Valley Press
March 26, 2020 9:37 AM

The 2020 Spring Mack Days fishing event on Flathead Lake kicked off March 20, and a familiar face is at the top of the leaderboard.

Jason Mahlen, a Kalispell angler and six-time champion of Spring Mack Days, is leading the top-10 anglers.

It was a four-way tie after the first day with Michael Benson of Lonepine, Larry Karper of Florence, and Scott Bombard of Missoula matching Mahlen’s total of 100 fish, the maximum allowed.

The second day Karper’s boat motor gave out with him turning in early with 40 fish entries. Benson and Bombard again matched Mahlen’s total with 100 each.

Sunday, Mahlen completed his perfect opening weekend with 100 while Benson had 61 and Bombard 60 lakers.

Scott Mahlen turned in 100 Sunday matching his brother’s total, and Sam Cusker of Bigfork also turned in 100 fish.

134 anglers turned in a total of 5,387 lake trout the first weekend, an average of 40.2 fish per angler.

In 2019, the spring event’s first weekend total of 2,052 was much lower because of ice issues all around the lake.

However, the total at the end of the 2019 event was the largest in the history of all the events with 40,362 total lake trout.

Top-10 anglers at this time are: Jason Mahlen at 300, Michael Benson at 261, Scott Bombard at 260, Kolton Turner at 243, Sam Cusker at 233, Ken Varga at 228, John Gauci at 188, Jerry Benson at 186, Tyler Varga at 183, and Bob Turner at 178.

Anglers in 11th to 20th place will be awarded cash prizes for the first time on the last day of the 2020 event. Scott Mahlen is currently in 11th place with 150, 12th is Larry Karper with 140, 13th is Terry Krogstad with 114, 14th is Julie Perkins with 111, 15th is Shannon Brownlee at 105, 16th is Larry Ashwell at 103, 17th is Morgan Amdahl at 101, 18th is Jack Kirkland at 74, 19th is Thomas Kemppainen at 64, and 20th is Andy Reed at 63.

Julie Perkins leads the Ladies Category with 111. Debbie Paine of Polson is second at 43, in third is Connie Jones of Kalispell with 33, fourth is Janet Iverson of Bigfork at 14, and Jenny Stratton and Jenny Perth are tied with seven for fifth place.

Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell, in the 17-and-under category, had some bad luck during the weekend, losing a custom-made rod and a good reel overboard.

He has 58 entries to lead the category.

In second was Brodie Smith of Kalispell, with 29 fish, Allison Hotchkiss of Missoula is in third with 11, John Ross Jr. of Stevensville is in fourth with six, Emmett Ludahl and Alex Hotchkiss have two and are in fifth place.

Mike Ross of Stevensville leads the 12-and-under with 8. Tsimmeej Yang of Missoula is in second with sevent and Arley Grandchamp of Pablo is third with two.

Tagged lake trout with $200 value were turned in by Travis Tennison of Kalispell, Matt Guckenberg Sr. of Kalispell (2), Shane Stratton of Kalispell (2) and Bob Bochee of Missoula.

Those with $100 tagged fish were: Connie Jones, Bob Stewart, Shannon Brownlee, Jack Kirkland, Jason Newton, Sou Thao, Chris Demmons, Storm Kemmpainen, Cory Hauser, Toby Thompson, Bob Christenson, Jenny Perth, Mike Colyer, Mike Ferda, Scott Mahlen, Travis Tennison, Jack Kirkland, and Jade Smith.

The event continues through May 17.

There are up to $225,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event.

Because of the coronavirus, at this time there will be no awards ceremony or fish fry on the last day of the event.

Cash awards will be given in place of the merchandise prizes.

Visit for more information on the changes to 2020 Spring Mack Days event.