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Park Rapids: Gov. Dayton catches walleye as fishing season opens

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, fishing guide Jason Durham, state Sen. Rod Skoe and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple (at left) fish Saturday morning on Fish Hook River in Park Rapids. Anna Erickson | Forum News Service1 / 2
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (left) and North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple prepare to fish Saturday morning on Fish Hook River in Park Rapids. Anna Erickson | Forum News Service2 / 2

PARK RAPIDS — Park Rapids fishing guide Jason Durham received praise from Gov. Mark Dayton on Saturday morning after a successful fishing outing shortly after midnight.

"Jason is my new hero," Dayton said Saturday morning. "He can walk on water."

The governor caught a walleye at 12:25 a.m. Saturday. It was bigger than the other two fish he’s caught on previous openers combined, he said. Dayton didn’t catch any additional fish later in the morning but was happy he caught the one walleye.

Dayton was joined by North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Minnesota state Sen. Rod Skoe as they launched a boat about 8 a.m. on the Fish Hook River.

"It’s cold, it’s windy, it’s icy. It must be a Minnesota fishing opener," Dalrymple said.

He is familiar with the Fish Hook Lake area of Park Rapids. When he heard this year’s opener would be in Park Rapids, he wanted to join Dayton.

Dalrymple said Minnesota and North Dakota have a good relationship, with people fishing and hunting in both states, and he wanted that to continue.

Skoe grew up water-skiing on the Fish Hook River and recalled it being a lot warmer than it was Saturday. Temperatures in the morning were in the mid-30s with gusting winds.

Eventually, it will warm up and Minnesota will have a great summer and great tourism season, though, Skoe said.

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon also spoke briefly Saturday morning. This was the first time the governor had caught a fish before her in the opener. She joked about their friendly competition and wished all fishermen good luck.

"I hope everyone is successful in catching their walleye today," she said.

Prettner Solon said she saw a large northern but couldn’t get the bait on the hook fast enough. She didn’t catch a fish Saturday but had a great time anyway.

The entire event has been phenomenal and the community did a tremendous job, she added. Also, the lieutenant governor appreciated that Park Rapids hosted a family-friendly community picnic Friday night. That’s not always the case with some fishing opener events, she said.

Governor’s Fishing Opener volunteers and dignitaries celebrated with a dinner Saturday night in downtown Park Rapids.

"All I can say is ‘wow,’ " said Park Rapids event chair Dennis Mackedanz.

He thanked volunteers for helping to make this year’s opener a success.

John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, said Park Rapids is an outstanding place and quoted an attendee of this year’s event, who said, "Here we have found the heart of Minnesota Nice."

The 2014 Governor’s Fishing Opener will be hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

Article written by Anna Erickson of Forum News Service,

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