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Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener has Evolved Over the Years

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Governor Karl Rolvaag, Minnesota and Governor Harold E. Hughes of Iowa at Walleye opener at Gunflint Lake. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

ST. CLOUD – We know St. Cloud is hosting the 70th annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener this weekend, but the event actually took a while for it to become what it is today.

The Minnesota Historical Society says the first event was in 1948 at Mille Lacs Lake, however there’s no evidence then-Governor Luther Youndahl attended. In fact his first official appearance at a fishing opener didn’t come until 1951.

In 1961 Elmer Anderson hosted administration and sports journalists at Leech Lake for what he called the “First Annual Fisherama”.

The media began called it the “Governor’s Fishing Party” in 1963, a sly reference to what happens after the fishing day is done.

Both Rudy Perpich and Al Qui expressed concern over the bad reputation the event had earned, so since Qui’s term it has been known officially as the “Governor’s Fishing Opener”.

Since 1961 the governor has only missed the event three times, each time in order to deal with the legislative session.

List of Previous MN Governor's Fishing Openers

This is the first time St. Cloud has hosted the event.

Walter F_ Mondale Papers IRN 10164552
Minnesota State Attorney General Walter Mondale and Minnesota governor Karl Rolvaag display their catch on opening day of the 1963 Minnesota fishing season. Photo Minnesota Historical Society Pho

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