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Spring Mack Days leader

Jason Mahlen, left, is leading the Spring Mack Days tournament with 930 lake trout. In this 2013 photo his friend Mike Benson is at right.

Kalispell angler and five time Spring Mack Days top angler Jason Mahlen is expanding his lake trout lead by a slim margin in the 2019 event.

Mahlen turned in two perfect 100 limits on Friday and Saturday for a total of five perfect 100-fish days so far, and then he added 60 entries on Sunday for a total of 930 lake trout. In 2018, Mahlen finished first in the event with a 91.56 record and 18-day average turning in a total of 2,028 lake trout.

Kolton Turner of Kalispell is sitting second in the Top Ten Category, turning in an impressive 901 lake trout. Third place is David McDaniel of Polson with 734; fourth is Bob Turner with 680; fifth is Mike Benson, of Lonepine, with 677; sixth is Ken Varga, of Kalispell, with 652; seventh is Tyler Varga with 626; eighth is Jerry Benson, of Plains, with 505; ninth is Scott Mahlen, of Kalispell, with 496; and 10th is Scott Bombard, of Missoula, with 473 entries.

Julie Perkins of Kalispell continues to hold the lead in the Ladies Category with 244. In second place is Leah Banyai, of Kalispell, with 196; third is Connie Jones, of Kalispell, with 64; fourth is Debbie Paine, of Polson, with 62; and fifth is Lisa Cloo, of Clinton.

Florence angler Larry Karper holds onto a slim lead in the 70 & Over Category with 223 entries. In second place is Larry Ashwell with 217; third is Gary Perleberg, of Bigfork, with 126; fourth is John Gauci, of Florence, with 108; and there is a tie for fifth with Bob Christensen and Roger Brewer each with 17 entries.

Matt Guckenberg Jr., of Kalispell, leads the 13-17 group with 233 entries, and Leah Banyai is in second place with 196 entries. The 12 & Under group leader is Fjord Borgen with 23 entries. Fisher Whitaker, of Kalispell, is second with 22; third is Brodie Smith, of Kalispell, with 20; fourth is HD, of Arlee, with 17; and fifth is Gunner Whitaker, of Kalispell, with 10 lake trout.

Many anglers are reporting that they are catching and releasing bull trout in all areas of the lake. Anglers are reminded to carefully check out every fish for a positive ID before placing it in their cooler.

Bull trout will fight stronger than a lake trout. If you suspect a bull trout on the line reel the fish in slowly, giving it time to come up. Turn the fish over and look at the back and sides of the fish. Bull trout have more rounded spotting on the back and sides with pink- or orange-colored spots on the sides. Sometimes the spotting will not show very well, so look close.

Young bull trout tails can fool you with it looking like the tail has a V in it like a lake trout but if spread out the tail is more flat and even.

The head of a bull trout will be broader than that of the lake trout and there will be no spots on the dorsal fin, remember, No black-Put it back. If you catch several bull trout in an area-move out of that area. Don’t keep catching and releasing them. A fish with a lure deep in the throat is better off if you just clip the line close to the mouth of the fish. Their stomach acids will dissolve the hook. If you question the ID of the fish don’t take a chance, throw it back. It is unlawful to possess a bull trout. 

Anglers have turned in a total of 18,200 entries in the event over the first four weekends. Five weeks are left. Five hundred eighteen anglers are registered and 165 have turned in one or more lake trout entries. There were 3,722 fish entries the fourth weekend. Friday-1,802, Saturday-1,452, and on a cold, windy, rainy-Sunday-468.

The $10,000 tagged lake trout is still out there along with three $5,000, five $1,000 and more than 9,000 with values from $500 to $100. Turning in $100 tagged lake trout, the fourth week were: Steve Benson-Spokane Valley; Kalispell anglers Tyler and Ken Varga, and Bob and Kolton Turner. Larry Ashwell of Missoula and Debbie Paine of Polson turned in tagged lake trout with values of $200.

Jack Kirkland of Missoula lost a special lure Larry Karper gave him on Saturday after a feisty fish took it and wrapped his fishing line around the prop before Kirkland could bring him in. The line sheared off and the fish went free.

On Sunday Kirkland was fishing 50 yards away from Saturday’s mishap when he felt something and started reeling in his line. He caught his line from the day before along with a whitefish and his lost lure.

Mack Days Events are sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and are used by fisheries managers to reduce nonnative lake trout in Flathead Lake. There is Up to $225,000 in cash and prizes that will be awarded at the conclusion of the event on May 19.

Go to www.mackdays.com for all of the information listed under the events tab. Entries will continue to be taken until the last day of the event and there is no entry fee.

For more information phone 406-270-3386 or 406-883-2700 ext. 7282 or 7294. 

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