Bringing fly fishing to the 2019 MN Governor’s Fishing Opener

I graduated with a degree in business marketing and am lucky to still have two very good friends from the marketing/communications department who now work for South Dakota and Minnesota Tourism. A few years ago we made a very fun fishing trip out to South Dakota, thanks to my friend there; but late last year, our other friend from ExploreMinnesota reached out and asked if we would be interested in participating in the annual MN Governor’s Fishing Opener on Mother’s Day weekend 2019.

We didn’t know much about what all the MN Governor’s Fishing Opener would ask of us, but it sounded like a fun opportunity, so naturally we agreed!

As the event drew closer, we started to learn a little more about this event. Started in 1948, the MN Governor’s Fishing Opener was hosted with the purpose of improving the economies of various communities throughout the state by promoting regional recreational activities all under the guise of celebrating the official start of the warm water fishing season and the official kick-off of the many summer activities across the state. The event is hosted by the state of Minnesota’s tourism department, ExploreMinnesota, and is attended by local media, anglers, business sponsors, and of course, public officials.

2019 MN Governor's Fishing Opener in Albert Lea, Minnesota
2019 MN Governor’s Fishing Opener in Albert Lea, Minnesota

This year, the city of Albert Lea was the gracious host of this event. Friday kicked off with a handful of community tours that media and event attendees could participate in. We personally enjoyed a tour and tasting at Three Oak Winery located just outside of Albert Lea, where the weather was perfect and the wines were deliciously sweet. We left with a bottle of raspberry wine as a gift for my mom and a yummy rose for ourselves.

Every year, they partner anglers from across the state up with a local “boat host”, so after checking in at our hotel, we headed into downtown Albert Lea to meet our boat host for the next day at the American Legion. We were lucky to be paired up with Orin—an Albert Lea native who had his own boat slip right on Fountain Lake in Albert Lea. After making a game plan for the next morning, we headed out to the block party taking place on the main street, which included live music, fun activities for kids and adults alike, food and drinks, and more! The local shops and restaurants were clearly excited and involved in the event, with friendly shop owners mingling with the attendees and fun fishing displays in the windows of the stores.

boat host orin mn governors fishing opener
Our boat host, Orin!

The following morning, we woke up bright and early and followed Orin to his boat dock to kick off the morning. We learned we were the first fly anglers to participate in the event, and Orin had a perfect sized fishing boat to allow us to cast the fly rod from the front of the boat.

Fly casting from Orin's boat during the 2019 MN Governor's Fishing Opener
Fly casting from Orin’s boat during the 2019 MN Governor’s Fishing Opener

To some extent, we wanted to bring awareness to the fact that there are TONS of opportunities to fly fish across the state of Minnesota—we’re not limited to just fishing for trout in skinny rivers. Warm water fishing on the fly for pike, bass and even musky is some of best fishing we’ve done. The temperatures had dropped significantly from the day before, making fishing difficult for everyone, but Micah was able to at least land a pike in the first hour or so.

Pike on the fly at the MN Governor's Fishing Opener
Pike on the fly at the MN Governor’s Fishing Opener

Around noon, we hopped off the water at a local park to enjoy a walleye shore lunch with the other anglers and weekend participants, followed by a quick meet and greet with Governor Tim Walz himself!

While the fishing was just alright for the first day of the warm water season, that’s really not the reason we wanted to participate. For Micah and I, it goes beyond the fishing—it’s about the people we meet along the way. While many people know we’re pretty active on social media, we find it important to take the relationships offline and get to know other anglers and locals across MN in person as well.

This particular weekend, we met a lot of great MN folks. Orin, our boat host, was an absolute blast—during the fishing downtime, Orin shared a lot about himself with us, including his many trips to Canada to fish, as well has how fishing has always been a family affair for him. We even ran across his son-in-law and granddaughter in another boat that day!

We also met a handful of the nice folks at ExploreMinnesota; who, by the way, put on a FANTASTIC weekend! We had the opportunity to chat with the Governor and confirmed he has fly fished and has helped with some habitat improvement projects on trout streams in the past. And we also met and spent time with two very cool ladies from WSI Sports who were also fishing for the weekend—Priscilla and Jess!

Fly fishing has been the connection to some of the best experiences we’ve had and the nicest people we’ve met in the last few years, and we’re grateful we had the opportunity to participate in the MN Governor’s Fishing Opener!

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