Shelby Shares: Fishing opener serious business

BringMeTheNews.com's Don Shelby travels to Waconia for the Governor's Fishing Opener. Sure, it's fun -- but the real angle is that fishing is serious business for the state of Minnesota.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Don Shelby
?Lake Waconia

New line on all the reels, tackle boxes cleaned for the start of the season, hooks sharpened, leeches, crawlers and minnows in the bait bin.

It has been a long wait for open water anglers, and the walleye season opens officially with Gov. Mark Dayton leading anglers onto Lake Waconia for the annual Governors Fishing Opener.

With all the disagreement in the state over finances, taxes and budgets, why would Minnesota’s governor go fishing??? Because, like dozens of governor’s before him, Mark Dayton knows what fishing means to this state.

A 2007 analysis shows that more than 43,000 jobs depend on our fishing economy. Anglers spend nearly $3 bilion a year on the pursuit of finny critters of all breeds. Direct tax revenues add up to more than $640 million annually.

There are 1.5 million anglers in this state, and they spend money and pay taxes. John Edman, the Director of Explore Minnesota, was on hand at Lola’s, the official gathering spot on Lake Waconia. He reminded us that the traveler and leisure industry in Minnesota accounts for 17 per cent of all sales tax revenue pouring into state coffers. “That’s why governors of 65 years have been celebrating this opener. The industry brings $11 billion to the state and employs 240,000 people.”

Anglers also are willing to pay even more for the privilege of wetting a line.

Outdoor groups supported increasing the costs of a fishing license this year. They were willing to pay more so that more money would go to keeping our lakes well stocked, healthy and well governed. When adjusted for the cost of gasoline for the boat, and the car or truck to get to the lake, lodging and other services, the economic impact on the state of Minnesota exceeds $5 billion.

That’s a lot of Vikings stadiums.

So, let's call the governor’s opener a fiscally responsible act by the head of state. And, because it moves around the state from year to year, it brings attention to those communities serving as host. This year, it is Waconia and its productive 3,000-acre lake.

The governor’s guide this year is a lifetime angler in these parts, and knows the lake well. Though he hasn’t been pre-fishing this year, Travis Frank says he will be on the water as soon as it is legal to do so, just past midnight tonight.

“That’s when the big ones are going to hit, and they’ll be shallow,” he said. The walleye have already spawned, but the big fish come shallow in the evening to feed. So, Frank will instruct the governor to throw shallow running crankbaits during the night hours, and switch to jig and minnow or jig and leech when day breaks, and move out to a little deeper water where the walleyes will stage for the day.

Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon will be guided by Mark Peters, another longtime guide on Lake Waconia. His pattern is similar, and wondered whether the Lt. Governor knows how to fish. Prettner Solon told me this morning that she raised her kids on a lake, and has caught some hawgs in her life. She is no stranger to the Lindy Rig.

I asked the Lt. Governor the key question: "If you catch an eating-size fish, will you put it back in the water, or take it home to eat it?” She didn’t miss a beat, saying, “Its going home with me, into the skillet. I love my walleye.”? Minnesota once lost its vaunted reputation as a fishing heaven.

Only thirty years ago, the state was considered on the downslide. Angling magazines mocked Minnesota’s lakes and their ability to produce fish. Politicians noted the decline, as did those who had depended on this gentle madness called fishing.

Anglers pushed the government, and government responded with policy, and the policies resulted in better fishing and a return of dollars to the state. Now, only Texas and Florida anglers spend more than Minnesotans.

So, don’t think the governor is taking a day off. As any angler, and any governor, will tell you, the fishing opener is serious business.

Next Up

coronavirus, masks, covid-19

Wisconsin Republicans aim to end governor's mask mandate

They've introduced a resolution to remove the governor's emergency powers.

Ted Schweich

Community group hopes to install billboard to get neighbor a kidney

A group called "Team Ted" aims to raise $5,000 to find their friend a kidney donor.

Andrew Palmer

Charges: Coach raped teenage girl on Minnesota basketball team

The 33-year-old head coach has been charged in connection to the alleged crimes.

radio station, microphone

WCCO Radio's program director leaves the company

It's not clear why John Hanson and the station parted ways.

Minneapolis skyline

Minneapolis a step closer to banning facial recognition technology

There are concerns about it leading to a surveillance state, and that it could harm disadvantaged communities.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Friday, January 22

Nearly 50,000 Minnesotans have received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

police lights

Police recover more than 14 pounds of meth, 4,000 pills during drug bust

Three people have been arrested and charged in connection to the drugs.

Gopher hockey

Gophers respond to drop in rankings with 10-goal outburst

It had been 17 years since the Gophers last scored 10 goals in a game.

snow

Winter storm watch issued where snow could exceed 6 inches in MN

Snow will spread from west to east starting Saturday morning in western Minnesota.

Related

Shelby Shares: Tell us your community's story!

What is your community's greatest story? Greatest struggle? Tell us and we may send Don Shelby to your community to cover the story.

Saturday evening update from Lake Waconia

Don Shelby has been hanging out at Lake Waconia all weekend keeping an eye on things...

Don Shelby joins Rick Kupchella's BringMeTheNews

Legendary TV newsman Don Shelby is joining BringMeTheNews. The veteran anchor and investigative journalist will be the morning voice of the BringMeTheNews radio network of more than 30 stations around Minnesota starting Wednesday, April 4. He’ll also provide original news reporting.

SHELBY SHARES: Brett Kelley follows in 'old man's' footsteps

Brett Kelley flat-lined after an infection attacked his heart. But that would not derail the young man's goals of becoming a distinguished soldier and a lawyer like his father, high-profile Minnesota attorney Doug Kelley.

SHELBY SHARES: Entrepreneurs compete for cash, prestige at Minnesota Cup

About 1,000 inventors and innovators entered the eighth annual Minnesota Cup competition this year, each with a bright idea that they hoped would awe the judges – and maybe change the world. Only six made the finals.

SHELBY SHARES: Driven to extremes ... Climate change evidence is becoming more obvious

Back in the day, I told people to look at the data trends – not out the window – for evidence of global warming. But that's changing. As an editorial in this month's New Scientist magazine suggests, "From killer heatwaves to destructive floods, the effects of global warming are becoming ever more obvious – and we ain't seen nothing yet."

SHELBY SHARES: Turkeys, avionics and renewable energy in Starbuck, Minn.

Randy Hagen is a farmboy. He raises turkey hatchlings for some of the biggest turkey producers around. He also likes flying. So, how is it possible that this guy from western Minnesota has come up with one of the most notable renewable energy products we've seen in a long time?

SHELBY SHARES: Coach guides small town through big changes

Twenty years ago, there was only one Latino family in the small southwestern Minn. town of St. James. Today, 30 percent of the population and 50 percent of the students in the district are Latino. That’s a challenge. Wrestling coach Gene Hildebrandt never blinked.