Jason Mahlen crowned Spring Mack Days champion

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TOP TEN anglers left to right, in no particular order, in the final 2019 Spring Mack Days tournament are Kolton Turner, Felix Gauci, Bob Turner, Mike Benson, Jason Mahlen (champion), Ken Varga, David McDaniel, Matt Guckenberg, Jerry Benson, and Scott Mahlen. (Photo courtesy of Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes).

The 2019 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and sanctioned by Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks concluded May 19 with awards and a fish fry at the Blue Bay Campground.

A record total of 40,357 lake trout entries caught by 220 anglers were received over the 51 days of the event. Anglers could fish Tuesdays through Sundays during the nine-week-long fishing event, or they could choose to fish only one day.

Mack Days was a week late beginning on March 22 instead of the 15th because of boat ramps being frozen in, and it ended a week late on the 19th of May.

The previous high number of 38,085 entries was from the 2012 spring event when 330 anglers caught one or more lake trout. The 2018 event had 36,318 entries, and 2017 had a total of 37,195.

Kalispell angler Jason Mahlen blazed through the event with a record total of 2,134 (2018 his total was 2,028 and was the number to beat) lake trout entries and a perfect record-setting 100 15- day average.

Friday was a rough day on the water and he missed the 100 on that disappointing day turning in 55 entries which for most anglers would be a great day. But when you are trying for a perfect day and know you have only one day left to achieve your mark it would be frustrating.

Saturday was a milder day on the water and Jason finished and turned in early with his last perfect 100 fish day to finish out the event. He commented he did not realize how important it was to him until he finally was done and had the last lake trout in the net and in the cooler.

Kolton Turner of Kalispell came in 2nd with 1,822 and 91.8; 3rd David McDaniel of Polson-1,680 and 79.33; 4th Bob Turner of Kalispell-1,490 and 77.47; 5th Mike Benson of Lonepine-1,381 and 70.06; Ken Varga of Kalispell 6th-1,108 and 64.26; Jerry Benson of Plains 7th-1,126 and 63.8, Felix Gauci of Stevensville 8th-953 and 62.06; 9th Scott Mahlen of Kalispell-1,142 and 61.93; and 10th Matt Guckenberg of Kalispell-1,030 and 57.4. Top-ten anglers are placed on their 15-day average.

ANOTHER RECORD was set by lady angler Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 589 entries in the Ladies Category. Second place went to youth angler Leah Banyai of Kalispell with 389, 3rd place went to Debbie Paine of Polson with 149, Connie Jones of Kalispell was 4th with 149, Lisa Cloo of Clinton came in 5th with 75.

Spirit of the Event Awards went to Bob Turner, Kolton Turner and Tom Kemppainen of Kalispell. They were the three men in a boat who broke a path through the ice on March 22 at Yellow Bay, which gave anglers the opportunity to get out on the water the following day. They spent five-and-a-half hours chipping through the ice to get out to open water. Mack Days would have been set back in fish totals if they had not forged their way out to the open water.

The Golden Angler first-place award went to Larry Karper of Florence with 628 entries. Second went to Larry Ashwell of Missoula with 543.

Future expert anglers in the two Youth Categories: Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell was 1st in the 13-17 Category with 545. Second went to Emmett Ludahl of Kalispell with 32, 3rd Abby Hodgson of Kalispell with 20, 4th Wyatt Thompson of Bigfork with 5, and John Ross Jr. of Stevensville was 5th with 4. The 12 and Under Category leader was Brodie Smith of Kalispell with 167, Fjord Borgen of Columbia Falls was second with 52, and Fisher Whitaker of Kalispell 3rd with 33.

Smallest lake trout winners were Kent Lowe of Polson with a 145mm lake trout and Jerry Benson with a 176mm laker. There was no large lake trout entry.

Heaviest fish under 30 inches on the last day was won by Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls with a 6-pound lake trout. Second place went to Ben Carson of Stevensville with a 4.5-pound lake trout.

Darren Borgen of Columbia Falls won the Early Entry award.

For a list of winners and other information go to www.mackdays.com.

MACK DAYS are used as a tool to reduce non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. This is a plan supported by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and is used to increase the numbers of native fish for the future generations of the tribe and state of Montana. You cannot see fish like you can see other wildlife. It takes years of work and research to make a difference. 2019 Fall Mack Days will begin on Sept. 20 and will end on Nov. 17.

We will be looking forward to setting more records and seeing new faces join the event.

Thank you to each and every angler who helped to make this event such a success. You make the events what they are.

Tight lines everyone.

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