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Phil Meredith of Kalispell displays a tagged fish worth $5,000 caught out of Flathead Lake by his boat-mate, Roger Schiff of Whitefish, during Fall Mack Days.

POLSON – Terry Krogstad finished No. 4 in total lake trout caught – and won himself a Fall Mack Days championship on Flathead Lake in the process.

A tournament rule designed to encourage participation by anglers who can’t fish every single day of the event gave the Kalispell man – whose job limited his time on the water – the title.

He even had to take a zero for one day, and still turned in an average of 63 lake trout over the days he competed to beat Mike Benson of Lonepine, who averaged 54.4 over his 15 best days.

The angler who caught the most lake trout – 1,051 – of anyone, Roger Dilts of Polson, was third with a 52.5 average.

Anglers had 24 days over the tourney’s six-week run to produce their 15 best-day totals. Those who fish more than 15 get to drop their lowest daily totals before the average is figured.

Krogstad, who fished just 14 days, had to take a zero for the 15th necessary day.

It didn’t matter.

He caught more fish than anyone else on 13 of the 14 days he did fish – including his limit of 100 on what was his first day of fishing, when the tournament was six days old – and wound up with a harvest of 956.

Benson and Dilts each skipped just one of the 24 days, but Benson did slightly better on his 15 best.

The totals also include Sunday, a 25th day when anglers could still catch lake trout tagged for monetary prizes and any more lake trout harvested adds to their chances in a lottery style drawing, but their catch on the final day isn’t eligible for the 15 best-day averages.

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Krogstad caught more than 60 lake trout on 10 of his 14 days, including a 100-85-80 start on the first three days he fished back in October.

First place is worth $700.

Dilts did earn the biggest bonus payout for total fish caught, at $4,035.

Benson’s total was worth $3,750, and Krogstad’s brought him another $3,400.

Benson’s brother, Steven, of Four Lakes, Wash., was fourth with a 49.4 average and totaled 875 lake trout. He was followed by Tim Mooney of Missoula, who averaged 48.5 over his 15 best days and caught 917 overall.

The sixth-place finisher, Scott Bombard of Missoula, was the other angler to finish with a higher total than Krogstad – 975 – but his 15-day average was 47.4.

Rounding out the top 10 overall were Phil Meredith of Kalispell, 36.2 (603); Danny Smith of Hot Springs, 30.6 (514); Richard Kreis of Huson, 26.9 (514); and women’s division winner Jeanee Mooney of Missoula, 26.4 (411).

Jeanee Mooney’s total was a Fall Mack Days record for a woman. She beat Laurie Kreis of Huson (152), Deana Knipe of Polson (132) and Kim McMillie of Ronan (101).

In the two youth divisions, Eric Sams of Polson won the 13-17 title with 45 lake trout, and Dylan Hodgson of Kalispell took the 12-and-younger group with 23.

Among the tens of thousands of dollars paid out at Sunday’s closing fish fry and award ceremony at Blue Bay was a $5,000 check for Roger Schiff of Whitefish, who caught a lake trout tagged for that amount during the tournament.

Many fishermen donate the bulk of their catch back to the tournament’s sponsor, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, who in turn process it and donate the meat to food banks from Kalispell to Missoula to St. Regis.

Byproducts go into a composter for future use as fertilizer.

Weekly harvests in the 2013 event started strong and ranged from 2,115 to 2,491 over the first three weekends, but didn’t crack 2,000 after that. Total harvest this fall was 14,330.

Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or by email at vdevlin@missoulian.com.

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