Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Pawlenty catches first walleye on cold opener

Baudette, Minn. Persistence paid off for Gov. Tim Pawlenty as he
landed a 21-inch walleye weighing in at three pounds Saturday
afternoon on Lake of the Woods after getting shut out during five
hours of cold morning fishing.

First lady Mary Pawlenty had a better morning, landing two small
walleyes before the party came in for a shore lunch around 1
p.m.

“I’m considering this halftime. We’re going in the locker room,
draw up some diagrams and then we’re going back out,” the governor
said.

Local fishing guide Tim Lyon said the anchor had barely touched
the bottom for the afternoon when the governor caught the walleye
in 12 feet of water on a one-eighth-ounce pink jig.

In that moment, joy replaced frustration for both governor and
guide.

The walleye was one of about 10 Lyon and members of the
governor’s party landed, but it was the sweetest. Especially since
Pawlenty failed to catch a walleye during last year’s Governor’s
Fishing Opener in Detroit Lakes.

“One fish,” a relieved Lyon said later. “I wish every day was
that simple of a goal.”

Lyon guides for Ballard’s Resort, a job in which one walleye
doesn’t cut it most days.

Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau didn’t catch a walleye, but she caught a
perch during her morning on the water with Kit Beckel, a guide for
Sportsman’s Lodge.

A large fleet of boats, perhaps 400 strong, joined the governor
and his entourage on the south side of Pine Island near the mouth
of the Rainy River. For Lyon, a longtime Lake of the Woods guide,
fishing in solitude wasn’t an option.

“There was a lot of humanity out there,” Lyon said. “As many
boats as I’ve ever seen on the opener.”

Every time he pulled anchor to move, a wave of security boats,
reporters and curious onlookers would follow. Even on the water,
however, security was tight, and most boats couldn’t get within 50
yards.

As openers go, weather wasn’t bad on Lake of the Woods. The
morning started clear and cold the temperature was 29 degrees when
the governor got on his boat with a brisk southwest wind. As the
day wore on, the clouds moved in, the wind subsided and the
temperature hovered around 50 as occasional drops of rain dropped
from the sky.

“It was like going through all of the seasons in a single
morning,” the governor said.

The governor’s opener culminated nearly a year of planning for
Lake of the Woods tourism officials. Friday, organizers served more
than 1,400 people at a community picnic in Baudette and the
governor tagged and released a sturgeon into the Rainy River to
commemorate the species’ continued recovery in Lake of the Woods
and Rainy River.

“We’re having a great time,” Pawlenty said. “The hospitality has
been wonderful.”

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