Governor Mark Dayton caught a fish during the Governor’s Fishing Opener.

2018 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener


Zebra mussels cover a fishing rod that spent a year in a central Minnesota lake.
Zebra mussels cover a fishing rod that spent a year in a central Minnesota lake.

From ice fishing to fishing on the water in 14 days


Willmar/Spicer held a very successful opener thanks in part to some warm days and strong winds. The committee sweated for a number of weeks worrying if the ice would go out.

Some nice fish were caught with the Governor’s Opener. Governor Dayton caught three bass. Some large fish were caught, walleye, Northerns, bass and even a couple nice muskies. While the send off was on Green Lake, anglers also fished on Norway Lake, Nest Lake, Eagle Lake and Big Kandi Lake. The smaller lakes produced some of the nicest fish. Even without a late ice-out, Green Lake, because of its size can be a challenge sometimes.

We fished Green Lake using leeches, minnows and night crawlers with no avail. We didn’t even get a strike. But even so, it was a great day to be on the water as the weatherman cooperated. Over the years at the Governor’s Openers we have had every kind of weather. From ice chunks floating around the lake, snow storms, thunderstorms and yes one year in Fairmont it hit 90 degrees.

Over the 30-plus years of going to the Governors Opener we met many nice people in the host communities. These volunteers start a year and a half before the opener and put in hundreds and hundreds of hours. Willmar/Spicer had over 400 hundred volunteers this year.

The last time Willmar hosted the opener was 25 years ago. If memory serves me correctly we fished Nest Lake and we did quite well, however it was mostly pan fish. 


I took a picture of a rod and reel that was dropped in the lake last fall in Green Lake and retrieved this spring and you can see the zebra mussels on it. They get on your boat and motor, also on docks and lifts. While most people consider this invasive species a real threat, some of the property owners on green lake said because of the mussels water clairty has improved considerably, in some cases as much as 10 feet, so there are mixed emotions about them.

The Governor’s Fishing Opener has grown over the years. Years ago you had to drive your vehicle from event to event. Now you ride in a comfortable coach. Over the years we have met some wonderful writers from other states. The opener has been proven to get great publicity for Minnesota tourism. The best part, its funded by sponsors and no stare money is spent on the opener.

Last year the opener was in St. Cloud and with Willmar this year that’s two openers in central Minnesota. Previous to that several openers were held up north. It’s been many years since an opener was held in southern Minnesota. That will change next year when the event will be held at Albert Lea.

I’ve never been to an opener in Albert Lea and am looking forward to going south next year!


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