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Kalispell's Turner wins 2024 Spring Mack Days tourney

by The Western News
| May 17, 2024 7:00 AM

The 2024 Spring Mack Days Event on Flathead Lake sponsored by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes ended Saturday May 11. 

A total of 35,089 lake trout were entered during the nine-week long fishing event. Making a difference for the future of native fish in Flathead lake is the goal behind these fishing events that focus on reducing the non-native lake trout. 

Native bull trout and westslope cutthroat populations are just a fraction of what they once were. Anglers are part of the management plan tool box to reduce non-native fish numbers and the anglers put an enormous amount of time and effort on the lake doing the work to help in this effort. 

The leader in the Top 20 category was Kolton Turner of Kalispell. He turned in a total of 2,283 lake trout entries and had an 18-day average of 100. He also set a new record in fish total for a Spring Event. 

Top 10 anglers are placed by their best 18-day average. Second-place angler Jason Mahlen of Kalispell held the fish total record since the 2019 Spring Event with his entry total of 2,134.

Jason’s total for 2024 Spring came to 2,073 and his average for 18 days was 98.67. Robert Turner of Kalispell came in third with 2,094-97.11. Clint Speer of Kalispell was fourth with 1,257-60.61, Gene Corne of Kalispell was fifth with 1,076 and 53.39, Jerry Benson of Plains was sixth with 1,025-53.0, Ken Varga of Kalispell was seventh with 1,005-52.61 and Mike Benson of Lonepine was eighth with 989-51.22. 

Rounding out the top 10 were Travis Banyai of Kalispell who was ninth with 934-50.83, and Tyler Varga of Kalispell who was 10th with 866 and 47.61. Finishing 11th through 20th were Bryan Long of Kalispell 818, Larry Ashwell of Missoula 805, David McDaniel of Polson 775, David Kelch of Great Falls 744, Larry Ludahl of Kalispell 733, Nate Dieterich of Kalispell 714, Felix Gauci of Stevensville 673, Jack Kirkland of Lolo 651, Terry Krogstad of Kalispell 556 and Dan Deutschman of Missoula 509 lake trout.

Ladies leader was Julie Perkins of Kalispell with 310. Shirley Batz of Kalispell came in second with 129, Corrine McCubbins of Kalispell was third with 79, Laurie Kreis of Huson was fourth with 49 and Melissa Triano of Bigfork was fifth with 24.

Winner of the 70 & Over was Larry Ashwell, Felix Gauci was second and Jack Kirkland with third. If an angler is in the Top 10 they choose which category they want to be placed in.

Brodie Smith of Kalispell was first in the 13-17 Category with 442. Kennedy Yang of Missoula was second with 31 and Matthew Mitts of Kalispell was third with 23.

Eli Yang of Missoula was first in the 12 & Under with 31, Mason Cusker of Bigfork second with 4, and Gage Spring of Alberton third with 3.

Jack Kirkland of Missoula won the Largest Lake Trout award, sponsored by Bretz RV and Marine with a 42-inch, 24.4-pound lunker. Smallest lake trout winner was Gene Corne with a 6.5-inch lake trout. There was a three-way tie for second place with entries of 166mm from Gene Corne, Jason Mahlen and Kolton Turner.

Spirit of the Event Awards went to Sou Thao of Missoula and Tyler Varga. They exemplify good anglers, are respectful to staff and are good sportsmen.

Week 9 tagged fish winners were: $200-Marty Herak of Polson $100-Mike Benson, Larry Ashwell, Travis Banyai and Terry Krogstad.

Jerry Benson won first in the lottery drawing, David Kelch of Great Falls was second, Jason Mahlen was third, Felix Gauci was fourth and Kolton Turner was fifth. There were 40 drawings—and many other categories with winners.

Tournament officials thanked all anglers and reminded that 2024 Fall Mack Days will begin Sept.  5 and end Nov. 3.