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Fall Mack Days begins Thursday

by SCOTT SHINDLEDECKER
Daily Inter Lake | September 16, 2021 12:00 AM

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes' 38th annual Fall Mack Days fishing tournament will run from Sept. 16 to Nov. 14.

The event is used as a management tool to reduce numbers of nonnative lake trout in Flathead Lake.

"Increasing the numbers of native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout is important to the ecology of Flathead Lake, the culture of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the objectives of the state of Montana in the Flathead Basin," Stephanie Gillin, the information and education program manager for the tribes' Natural Resource Department, said in a statement. "We have a responsibility to future generations to help these native fish in Flathead Lake increase to sustainable levels."

Up to $200,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded at the conclusion of the nine-week event. Just one lake trout entry qualifies an angler for a prize. Anglers can fish all 60 days of the tournament, or fewer if they prefer.

There will be fish pickups Friday through Sunday at Big Arm from 4:30-5:00 p.m. and at Salish Point in Polson from 5:30-5:45 p.m.. Blue Bay is open from 9 a.m. to 30 minutes after sunset or 9 p.m., whichever comes first. We will send out a final pickup times for Somers and Wayfarers later next week. 

COVID protocols will again be in place and anglers are asked to practice all social distancing guidelines.

Protocol for turning in fish at designated locations:

  • Only one person at a time will turn in fish;

  • Anglers must bring their cooler to the vehicle and count their catch out loud to

the Tribal staff as they are placed into the container;

Staff will confirm the count with the angler and record the catch;

When the angler is done, the angler will step back and next angler can

approach the vehicle;

  • There will be no contact between anglers and staff and no tickets will be

exchanged, the drawing will be done electronically at the end of the contest.

A tagged lake trout worth $10,000 will be released before the contest and will be waiting for just the right lure to entice it to bite. There also will be three $5,000 and five $1,000 tagged fish and more than 9,000 lake trout with values from $100 to $500.

There will also be a name the fish contest for the $10,000 lake trout. The winner of the drawing gets a soft side Siberian Cooler. Your fish name has to be emailed to cindy.benson@cskt.org or send a text to 406-270-3386 on or before Monday, Sept. 20.

The winning entrant name has to qualify by entering at least one lake trout before the last day of the event to win the cooler. It is limited to one entry per person. If the winning name entrant does not qualify a new cooler winner will be announced.

Gillin said Bretz RV and Marine will sponsor an additional tagged lake trout with a $1,000 gift value at the business in Missoula, as well as a $500 cash prize for the angler who reels in the largest lake trout of the competition.

Other prize categories include the top 20 anglers; ladies; the 70-and-older age group; youth ages 13 to 17; youth ages 12 and younger; heaviest lake trout over 36 inches and over 20 pounds; and smallest lake trout.

Additionally there will be lottery drawings Friday through Sunday, weekend awards, Siberian cooler drawings, cash drawings Monday through Thursday, plus bonus money depending on an angler's total catch at the conclusion of the event. Every angler who enters 11 or more lake trout begins to earn bonus amounts.

Anglers who participate in Mack Days must follow all boating rules and state and tribal fishing regulations. They also should know how to properly identify fish and distinguish between lake trout and bull trout, which are threatened. Smaller trout are sometimes hard to distinguish from bull trout. An angler in doubt about the identity of a fish should put it back in the lake.

Anglers are reminded to be weather wise, check weather predictions before going out and be prepared with the proper safety equipment, life jackets, fire extinguisher, keep your cell phone by placing it in a plastic bag, extra clothing, flashlight, water and food.

It’s also recommended to tell someone your fishing plan. Wind is the enemy on Flathead Lake for anglers, there are apps for your phone that will show weather and wind predictions.

More information can be found at mackdays.com, at 406-270-3386, or at 406-675-2700, ext. 7294.