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Gov. Fishing opener a success for area

A journalist who has covered more than 20 Governor’s Fishing Openers around the state made a prediction Saturday, May 10, as he watched the festivities of the 2014 event on the shores of Gull Lake at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

“The governor’s openers are improving every year, and the bar was set very high this year,” said the southern Minnesota newspaper publisher. “I feel sorry for next year’s hosts because this was quite an event.”

Next year’s governor’s opener is scheduled for Lake Vermilion, and that community will undoubtedly do an admirable job.

But last weekend’s event was an impressive production, starting with the community picnic in downtown Nisswa where it’s estimated that around 3,000 people were served a complimentary meal and attended other activities, highlighted by the Gear Daddies concert and fireworks. And then the fishing ceremony and kickoff from the docks of Grand View Lodge were all well done.

Many other events were made available for local and visiting media leading up to the opener, ranging from activities at Brainerd International Raceway to a dining tour around Gull Lake. Area students were involved through fishing events and creating decorations for the giant tent on Main Street in Nisswa.

It was especially rewarding to see the cooperation and teamwork of many area chamber staffs, especially from Brainerd Lakes and Nisswa, and several other area organizations. And any event this size is not possible without volunteers, which included hundreds of people who have committed so much of their time over the past year.

Everything seemed to run smoothly — even the weather cooperated as rainfall turned to sunshine Friday night for the community picnic in Nisswa. The nice weather continued into Saturday morning as anglers on area lakes awoke to more sunny conditions.

That nice weather did slow fishing a bit, especially for Gov. Mark Dayton, who for fished more than three hours at four different spots around Gull Lake, but didn’t reel in a fish.

“The fish were there, but they wanted nothing to do with me,” the governor told a media gathering.

He did seem very relaxed on the boat, joking with others like his guide, Ray Gildow, State Rep. John Ward, Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh of Nisswa, and her brother, Phillip. Dayton even joked with some of the media on surrounding boats.

Although water conditions were challenging for fishing with the late ice-out, Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon caught two nice walleye just minutes apart while fishing just after the midnight opening on Saturday morning.

Hosting the Governor’s Fishing Opener promotes the lakes area with media coverage across the Midwest. Two additional meetings that will be hosted by resorts on Gull Lake in June will attract representatives from more than 200 newspapers in Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin.

All this media exposure promotes local tourism and will provide an economic boost to the lakes area for years to come.