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Fall Mack Days begins Sept. 14

by CSKT Fisheries
| September 7, 2023 12:00 AM

The nine-week Falls Mack Days begins Sept. 14 and ends Nov. 12.

These fishing events, held each spring and fall, are used to reduce the numbers of non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes sponsor the events, which offer up to $200,000 in cash and prizes to lake trout anglers.

Increasing the numbers of native fish – bull trout and the westslope cutthroat – is important for future generations of Montanans and tribal people. There is historic value in helping these fish survive by increasing population numbers in Flathead Lake. These native fish were once an important food source for many people, native and non-native.

Anglers who have fished the lake in the past remember catching large bull trout and westslope in the lake. They also witnessed the decline of these native fish and the increased numbers of voracious lake trout.

“The fishery of the lake is no longer what it once was,” says Stephanie Gillin of the CSKT Natural Resources Department. “If the native fish were not here it would be hard to justify to young people why they disappeared out of the system they had been in for thousands of years and why we did nothing to stop that decline.”

Lake trout anglers can fish all of Flathead Lake any day of the week. There is no entry fee, and anglers can fish at their own pace. Every lake trout entry they turn in will qualify them for lottery drawings that begin at $100 and go up to $2,000; anglers also earn bonus dollars as their totals go up.

Tagged lake trout offer another incentive, including a $10,000 tagged lake trout; three worth $5,000, six worth $1,000, and more than 9,000 with values from $100-$500. The tagged lake trout have been released in all areas of the lake over the years, and the $10,000 tagged lake trout has been caught twice in the past.

Categories are available at www.mackdays.com, and include divisions Top Twenty Anglers, women, youth, and 70 and Over, as well as Captains’ prizes, weekend and weekday prizes, and awards for smallest and largest lake trout.

Fall Mack Days in 2022 saw total entries of 13,901; 2021 yielded 14,036; and 2020 brought in 14,821.

“We are hoping to go over the top of those numbers during this Fall Event by seeing more anglers enter and fish,” says Gillin.

She encourages anglers to check out the fishing tips and videos on the website, talk to local tackle departments, or ask experienced fishermen for advice. She also advises novices to learn to identify bull trout and westslope trout, since it’s illegal to turn those fish in.

“Fall is spawning time for the lake trout,” she adds, and when the leaves begin to change color, lake trout head for shallow waters to lay eggs.

She also reminds people that boats must be certified as mussel-free to participate in Mack Days.

Enter online at mackdays.com, or email name, address, age, and telephone number to cindy.benson@cskt.org. A special tribal permit is available to any resident or non-resident for fishing the south half of Flathead Lake only.

Entries will be taken every day at the following locations: Blue Bay (event headquarters) from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. or a half hour after sunset; Somers Boat Access from 3:30-4 p.m.; Wayfarers: 4:30-5 p.m.; Big Arm Boat Ramp: 4:30-5 p.m.; Salish Point Boat Ramp: 5:30-5:45 p.m.; and Big Arm and Salish Point on extreme weather days (call 406-270-3386 for pick up).