Next year’s fishing opener to occur in Otter Tail County

Published 10:04 pm Saturday, May 11, 2019

With the close of the 2019 Governor’s Fishing Opener, anglers are already able to put a pin in the map for next year’s event.

Next stop, Otter Tail County.

The location for the 2020 Governor’s Fishing Opener was announced at a celebration reception and dinner Saturday at Wedgewood Cove.

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Otter Tail County is the state’s seventh largest in area, has 1,048 lakes and 22 communities and 2020 Governor’s Fishing Opener committee chairman Erik Osberg said they could not pick just one of those communities to showcase for the event.

“We want it to be a county-wide celebration,” Osberg said.

They did, however, pick the lake the governor will fish on. Otter Tail Lake is the county’s biggest, located in the county’s center and, according to Osberg, is home to a lot of walleye. It will be the center of the action, he said.

Osberg attended the fishing opener in Albert Lea. He said the community set the bar high for next year’s event.

“We’re gonna try our darndest to imitate everything that you guys did,” he said.

John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, also spoke highly of the weekend in Albert Lea.

“I sincerely believe that this community came out like I haven’t seen in a long, long time with their enthusiasm, with their hospitality to make this one of the more memorable fishing openers in a long time,” Edman said.

Edman also said the effects of this year’s Governor’s Fishing Opener may be felt for longer than the weekend. The media value of last year’s fishing opener equaled over $1 million in ad value, he said.

A secondary impact of the event is the halo effect: that those who visit a community once are more likely to consider it as a destination to work, live, attend school or retire, Edman said.

“There is an actual impact of that beyond just the dollars themselves,” he said. “… Tourism, it’s a great industry it’s a fun industry but it means dollars, it means jobs and it means economic development.”

Committee Member Glen Parsons said he is proud of the community, and that the fishing opener was a great unifier for it.

“We’re so glad that you guys have all made it here and found out what we enjoy every day,” Parsons said to attendees. “So, come back and see us. We’d love to have you.”

The Governor’s Fishing Opener marks the beginning of walleye season and of the summer, but it does more: it provides an opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Sarah Strommen said.

“It was just a great occasion to celebrate the community celebrate friends, make new friends, celebrate family,” Strommen said.

Edman said community enthusiasm for the event was “incredible,” and that Albert Lea showed hospitality and joy.

“You really exceeded everybody’s expectations,” Edman said. “… This was your opportunity to shine, and I think you all truly did shine.”

The 2020 Governor’s Fishing Opener will be from May 8 to 10.


Fishing awards

Largest northern pike: 36.5 inches, Dan Stefanich

Largest walleye: 27.75 inches, Dan Stefanich

Largest bass: 16.5 inches, Tom Goodrich

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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