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Locals snag prize fish in Fall Mack Days

| September 27, 2023 12:00 AM

2023 Fall Mack Days anglers enjoyed the second good fishing weekend of the event on Flathead Lake.

Swirling winds on Thursday were mixing it up on the water keeping some anglers off the lake but the weekend fishing weather settled down and was good.

Jigging is the most popular method of fishing at this time. Trolling and casting are also methods used. There are some lake trout in the shallower waters. Shore anglers should start hitting some of the shallow water lakers.

Mack Days Fishing Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used as one of their management tools to reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake.

There is up to $200,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded to anglers at the conclusion of the event. “Ghost” the $10,000 elusive tagged lake trout is lurking in the dark murky depths of the lake. Tagged lake trout have been released in all parts of the lake so he could be anywhere moving around the lake.

There are three $5,000, six $1,000 including one sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine of Missoula, and over 9,000 with values from $100-$500.

Eight-year-old Paisley Helvey of Thompson Falls who had a total of five lake trout entries for that day. Kim Mack, of Helena, Felix Gauci, of Stevensville, Carey Hauser, of Lakeside, and Mike Benson, of Lonepine, all turned in $100 tagged lake trout.

There have been $1,000 tagged winners who only have one fish entered in the event so take a chance try your luck.

Monday to Thursday fishing totals come to 722. Sept. 22 the fish total was 678 with Dave Myers of Riverton, WY turning in a total of 96 for the high count. Saturday's total was 618, with Myers again having the high count with 55 lake trout entries. Sunday’s high count was Felix Gauci of Stevensville at 75, with the total count being 551 for the day.

Total for the second weekend was 1,847 and total weekend count is 3,357. Final count for all days is at 4,079.

Top 10 Anglers: 1st Dave Myers with 367, 2nd Felix Gauci-360, 3rd Mike Benson-Lonepine-295, 4th Bob Stewart-Kalispell-284, 5th Larry Ashwell-Missoula-201, 6th Jack Kirkland-Lolo-200, 7th Scott Bombard-Missoula-155, 8th Larry Karper-Florence-153, 9th Richard Kreis-Huson-135, and 10th Steve Mack of Helena with 131.

12 & Under totals: Paisley Helvey of Thompson Falls is in 1st with 13 and Blaine Helvey of Thompson Fall is in 2nd with 12. Bear Yarrow, Holden Griffin, and Ace Whimper of Clinton each have one entry.

Ladies are lead by Laurie Kreis of Huson with 105, 2nd Kim Mack of Helena with 58, and 3rd Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls has 46.

Paul Grove of Wyoming, IL turned in a 141mm small lake trout entry to take the lead in that category. He reported the small laker was in 182’ of water. Laurie Kreis is in second with a 184mm small laker. Small juvenile lake like the depths of the lake to evade the larger voracious eating lake trout. This is a popular category for the anglers Friday to Sunday fishing only.

Coolers are hard to handle when they are heavy with fish. Jerry Benson had some bad luck Sunday unloading his at the marina dock after a long day on the water. Someone had taken one of his tie-down ropes so he couldn’t tie the boat so it would be stable and not move. He was lifting his cooler up to the dock and the boat swung out-he missed the dock-and all of his fish went back into the lake.

He was grabbing fish out of the water while leaning out from the dock and using his pole to reach some of them that were too far away to grab. Luckily, he was able to get all but three of them back into his cooler.

He and a Mack Days staff person could see them at the bottom but it was too deep to reach them. At the end of a long day that is not what you want to happen but he felt lucky he was able to get most of them back in the cooler.

There is still no large lake trout entry in the event. The largest lake trout has to be over 36” and weigh in over 20#’s Friday to Sunday fishing only. Bretz RV and Marine sponsor the $500 large lake trout prize.

The first of the Bucket of Fish Days is Friday Sept. 29. Anglers put their four largest lake trout in a bucket and a weight is taken. Heaviest bucket wins $200. Saturday October 14th and Sunday, Nov. 5 are the other two days for the Buckets.