The 2017 Spring Mack Days Fishing Event ended with 18-year-old Danner Shima of Kalispell holding onto his lead in the Top 10 category. Shima turned in 1,652 lake trout this spring, with 75.89 fish average. This was the first year that Danner fished from his own boat, after working a job and saving his Mack Day winnings from previous tournaments. He is an angler we will be watching in the future, if you can stand it. Many competitors reported having to move locations after growing frustrated watching Shima pull in fish after fish. Danner started showing up in the Mack Days stats in 2011 with four entries in the Youth Category and has progressed through the years to become his current title of Top Angler. His expertise came from fishing with his grandfather Mike Shima, his dad Ryan, and brother Austin who are all very good anglers.
The second place award went to Jason Mahlen, who won the event the past four years and still holds the record of 1,818 entries and a 85.8 fish average. Jason turned in a total of 1,418 fish this years and had an average of 66.94. In third place was Ryan Shima with 1,276 fish and a 60.89 average. Michael Benson of Lonepine was fourth with 1,283 fish and a 59.94 average. In fifth was David McDaniel of Polson with 1,184 and 56.6. Steven Benson of Four Lakes, Wash., was fifth with 1,159 and 55.0. Felix Gauci of Stevensville was seventh with 1,144 and 54.4. In eighth was Sam Cusker of Whitefish with 1,079 and 53.0. Scott Bombard of Missoula was ninth with 1,081 and 52.67 and in 10th was Robert Turner of Kalispell with 991 and 50.5.
Lady anglers are just as competitive as the men and some put in as many hours. The Top Lady Angler was Julie Vacca of Florence with 332 fish. In second was Connie Jones of Kalispell with 176 fish. Janine Kowalski of Florence was third with 164, followed by Julie Woolley from California with 162, and Brandy Hilde of Whitefish with 156.
Veteran Larry Karper again won the 70 and Over Category with 863 fish. Bob Christensen of Missoula came in second with 318. Gary Perleberg of Bigfork was third with 107. Ralph Johnson of Columbia Falls was fourth with 61, followed by Bill Violette of Missoula with 52.
Tyler Varga of Kalispell was the winner in the 13-17 age group with 549 fish. Abby Hodgson of Kalispell was second with 103. Leah Banyai of Kalispell was third with 99. Jack Paul of Whitefish was fourth with 65 followed by Dylan Hodgson with 34.
The 12 and Under winner was Matt Guckenberg Jr. of Kalispell with 102 fish. Rylan Koch of Butte was second with 35, followed in third by Kayne Kirwan of Polson with 23.
Mike Shae of Kalispell turned in the highest dollar tagged fish with a value of $1,000. No one was able to catch the $10,000 fish, nor the three $5,000 fish and remaining four $1,000 tagged lake trout. Over the last week $100 tagged fish were caught by Larry Karper, Terry Krogstad of Kalispell, Mike Benson, Mike Shima, Sam Cusker, Bob Turner, Matt Guckenberg Jr., Chris Kirwan of Polson, Scott Bombard and Steve Benson.
There is no category for shore anglers in the event. The Bucket of Fish Days are one way they can compete, along with tagged fish, lottery drawings, or for the largest lake trout entries. If there was a category for the most fish turned in from a shore angler it would have been won by Randy Hovet of Charlo with a total of 47 lake trout. Randy won the Heaviest Lake Trout Under 30 inches on the last day with a 6.94-pound, 27 ½-inch fish. Larry Ashwell of Missoula was second with a 4.04 weight from a 25 ½ inch lake trout.
The Spirit of the Event Awards went to Terry Krogstad and Michael Benson. The award is for anglers who exemplify good sportsmanship, leadership and helpfulness to others.
The success of Mack Days is made possible by the time, effort, money and dedication of all the anglers who participate in the event. Successful anglers endure hours upon hours of fishing in all kinds of weather and conditions. Thank you to each and every angler.
A total of 37,195 lake trout entries were turned in during the nine-week long event – the second largest total in derby history behind the spring of 2012. Mack Days is organized by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and used as a tool to reduce the non-native lake trout in Flathead Lake and increase the native bull trout and westslope cutthroat numbers. The 2017 Fall Event will begin on Sept. 22 and end November 12.
Check out www.mackdays.com for information about the Mack Days Fishing Events, prizes, and the lottery winners.