One of Montana's more unique fishing tournaments led to a big payday for one the tourney's competitors.

Thousands of fish are caught during Fall Mack Days on Flathead Lake. The tournament is unique in that it is spread out over approximately 8 weeks. Also, 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.

Besides total number of fish caught by individual anglers during the event, there are a number of other ways to win parts of the $200,000 in cash and prizes awarded by the Confederated and Salish and Kootenai Tribes. That leads us to the story of Freddy Mack.

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 it in.

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Terry Krogstad and Julie Perkins (pictured) are dedicated Montana anglers and put in a lot of time and effort competing in Mack Days tournaments. The couple was close to calling it quits for the day last week, and were heading in to Blue Bay, fishing in about 80 feet of water, when Terry landed an 18-inch lake trout to wrap up the day. In the world of lake trout, that size is hardly noteworthy, but a clipped adipose fin was.

Terry and Julie turned the fish in at tournament headquarters and the jaw tag was scanned. Can you imagine the jubilation when they were told it was the one and only $10,000 trout swimming in that enormous lake!

Mack Days held a "Name the $10,00 Fish" contest and Freddy Mack was the winning name.

There are still a number of $1,000 and $5,000 tagged fish out there. Like the Tribes say, "all it takes is one fish to win."

Fall Mack Days runs through November 14. Anglers are helping restore a balance in Flathead Lake by reducing non-native trout and helping to increase native bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

Check out the Mack Days website to get more information and registration details.

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