Spring Mack Days Kick Off Friday

By Beacon Staff

The hunt for the $10,000 lake trout begins Friday.

The spring Mack Days Fishing Event kicks off on Flathead Lake on March 16, with cash and prizes totaling roughly $150,000 this year. The contest, which runs through May 20, is sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Mack Days is used as a management tool to slowly reduce the number of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake.

In preparation for this year’s event, fisheries staff and FWP officials have been tagging lake trout with prize amounts. One trout is worth $10,000, five are worth $5,000, and ten at $1,000. There are also over 3,500 other trout worth $100-500. Bonus amounts are also given to anglers who turn in 20 or more lake trout during the event. There are also youth prizes.

The event is held on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for 10 weekends. New this year, there will be 10-straight eligible fishing days between May 11-20. Final prizes will be awarded to the top 10 anglers ($700-$200) based on their best 18 day average.

In the 2011 fall event, top angler Wes Shockley of Plains twice caught the daily limit of 100 trout. Steve Biere of Butte turned in the high for last spring’s event with 95. Averages in the fall event for the top five were: Wes Shockley- 63.4; Mike Benson- 57.4; Scott Bombard- 54; Max Martz- 41.7; and Craig Morigeau- 34.4. The top five averages at last year’s spring event were: Chuck Forgey- 52.8; Mike Benson-40.7; Scott Bombard- 39.8; Wes Shockley-36.8, and Jerry Benson-33.8-Plains.

Jim Bilodeau of Kalispell caught the largest fish last spring. The trout weighed 25.8 pounds, was 40.25 inches long and landed Bilodeau $500.

Entries are taken until the last day of the event. Anglers can enter online or by visiting local sporting goods stores or tackle shops for entry forms.

Campgrounds at Westshore, Wayfarers, Big Arm, and Blue Bay have been opened for the event.