Maybe "waiting to be caught" is a bit misleading. What are we, lake trout whisperers?

More precisely, part of the excitement of two yearly fishing tournaments on Flathead Lake each feature one tagged lake trout that's worth $10,000 if it is caught. Don't think it can happen? Let's just take you back about five months to show that it can and does happen. Contestants Terry Krogstad and Julie Perkins are proof.

Spring Mack Days is coming to Flathead Lake, March 17-May 15. This is truly one of Montana's more unique fishing tournaments, in part because it is spread out over approximately 8 weeks. But also because there are no entry fees and anglers can enter right up to the last day and fish as few or as many days as they want.

Thousands of fish are caught during Mack Days. Besides total number of fish caught by individual anglers during the event, there are a number of other ways to win parts of the $225,000 in cash and prizes awarded by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The tournament features a number of "tagged" fish. Cindy Benson, Mack Days tournament director, explained that select lake trout have their adipose fin clipped and a tag that can be scanned is also inserted in the jaw. If anglers know what they're looking for, they can easily detect a clipped fin, and turn them in for instant cash prizes starting at $100. Of course, they don't know the exact amount until they turn them in.

And yes, one of those tagged fish that will be planted for the tourney is worth $10,000, and there are plenty of other big-money tagged fish as well. That includes three $5,000, five $1000 and over 9,000 $500 to $100 tagged fish.

As the tourney directors like to say, "It only takes one fish to win." All the free entry form information is posted here. Good luck and watch for those clipped fins!

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