Mike Benson claims top Fall Mack Days honor

| November 16, 2020 2:05 PM

The 2020 Fall Mack Days fishing event ended Sunday 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, which lasted 10 weeks and was the longest Mack Days event ever.

Mike Benson of Lonepine completed his 30th Mack Days, winning the top angler place with a total of 1,036 lake trout entries and an 18-day average of 49.06. It is his seventh first-place finish in the fall events, along with six second-place finishes and one fifth place.

Anglers who placed in the Top 10 category are removed from the standings in all other categories (Ladies, 70 and Over, etc. In this fall’s event, that included Julie Perkins, Larry Ashwell, Larry Karper, and John Gauci.

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.

Sam Cusker of Bigfork came in second with 712 entries and a 39.56 average, followed by Larry Ashwell of Missoula (642 , 32.61), Scott Bombard of Missoula (598, 30.5), John Gauci of Florence (517, 27.67), Terry Krogstad of Kalispell (578, 27.06), Julie Perkins of Kalispell (510, 24.61), Steve Benson from Spokane Valley, Wash. (451, 24.0), Larry Karper of Florence (418, 22.4) and Richard Kreis of Huson (422 entries, 20.06).

The 2020 fall event total number of entries was not the best or the worst of any previous event. The 2015 fall event brought in 19,540 entries in eight weeks making it the highest total event. The 2014 fall event total entries of 12,888 is the lowest for eight weeks.

Laurie Kreis of Huson took the lead in the Ladies group with a total of 350 entries, followed by Gina Schiff of Whitefish (89), Kimberly Mack of Helena (66), Kim McMillie of Polson (52) and Debby Sacchi of Thompson Falls (49).

Winning the 70 and Over Category is Jack Kirkland of Missoula with 298 entries, followed by Marty Herak of Polson (128), Mike Cosby of Thompson Falls (75), Bob Christensen of Missoula (61) and Bernie Olson of Lakeside (45).

Tripp Bick of Arlee in the 12-and-under group took first place with 13 entries, followed by Kaden Blowers of Missoula (6) and Gage Spring of Alberton (4). 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, followed by Makenna Garrett of Missoula (8), Kadin Kammerer of Missoula (7) and Wyatt Thompson of Bigfork (2).

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, N.D., turned in $100 tagged lake trout during the final week, and Mike Benson turned in a $200 laker. The tagged lake trout worth $100 to $500 from this event will have new dollar amounts assigned to them before the Spring Mack Days, and new fish will have the higher values assigned to them.

Spring Mack Days will run March 19 to May 16.


Kolton Antiste and Scott Bombard check in some entries. (CSKT Natural Resource Department)


Tony Incashola holds up an entry. (CSKT Natural Resource Department)