Opener assessment: Best in three years

Governor finds success on Leech Lake

By Ron C. Hustvedt, Jr.Contributing Writer

Walker, Minn. – ‘Leech Lake is back,’ Gov. Tim Pawlenty said
alongside the shores of Leech Lake during the opening weekend
festivities at the Governor’s Fishing Opener.

He made that statement at a lunchtime press conference after a
successful outing with First Lady Mary Pawlenty. Each of them
caught five fish that morning, including several walleyes, along
with their guide Chip Leer, tournament director for the
Professional Walleye Trail.

‘The fishing was great and this is a great place to come and
fish and do a lot of other things,’ Pawlenty said.

The walleye population on Leech Lake experienced a sharp decline
several years ago but is returning thanks to stocking efforts and
two strong year-classes in 2005 and 2006. Pawlenty said that one of
the major purposes of holding the event on Leech this year was to
send the message that the lake is ready to fish once again and that
it is producing plenty of walleyes.

‘It’s a great fishing destination,’ he said.

There was also high praise for the community around Leech Lake,
which centers around the town of Walker. ‘This is a warm and
friendly atmosphere and the people of Walker and surrounding
communities are nice folks,’ Pawlenty said.

While everybody talked about those strong 2005 and 2006
year-classes, a lot of the reports from anglers on Leech showed
that there are other fish in the lake.

‘We expected to catch a lot of 14-inch walleyes from that 2005
group but there were a lot of fish caught between 20 and 27 inches,
which is good news,’ said Bryan Sathre of Fathead Guide
Service.

Friendly rivalry

Gov. Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau exchanged friendly barbs
at Saturday’s press conference and shore lunch, held at Huddle’s
Resort. Molnau pointed out that she caught the first fish of the
day and the most with a total of 22. Pawlenty retorted that at
least he had caught the largest fish, a 28-inch northern pike.

The rivalry between the lieutenant governor and governor is
fierce but nothing like that between the governor and first lady,
Leer said. ‘She doesn’t miss a beat or a bite – she’s pretty deadly
and put the pressure on the governor,’ he added.

Pawlenty said he had a tough time focusing on fishing for a
while that morning because early on he spotted a tattoo on the
first lady’s back of a walleye along with the words ‘Lunker Bob.’
He said it unsettled him and took him off his game.

All joking aside, both the governor and first lady commented on
the perfect weather that featured clear skies, temperatures in the
60s, and a steady breeze creating a nice walleye chop. ‘I don’t
think there was anything we could have or would have wanted to do
differently,’ he said.

The governor and first lady said they were going to go back out
after lunch to see if they could break the tie and bring in a few
more fish.

2008 location announced

At the closing festivities Pawlenty announced that Breezy Point
and Pequot Lakes would be host to the 60th annual Governor’s
Fishing Opener. Pelican Lake will serve as the specific location
but the entire Brainerd Lakes area is being focused on for the
event.

‘What better place to host this 60th anniversary, than in the
great Brainerd Lakes area so well-known for its hospitality and
variety of fun activities for any visitor to the area,’ said John
Edman, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism.

This will be the fourth time Breezy Point Resort has hosted the
event with previous openers in 1970, 1989 and 2001. The 2008 opener
falls on May 10.

Editor’s note: The entire 10-minute press conference can be
heard on the WriteOutdoors Podcast at www.writeoutdoors.com.

Categories: Hunting News

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