Do Politicians Really Like to Fish?

I've been attending Minnesota Governor's Fishing Openers since Rudy Perpich's second term in the late 80s and early 90s and I was at yet another this year on Lake Pokegama near Grand Rapids, the first for Governor Mark Dayton. Through Perpich, Carlson, Ventura, Pawlenty and now Dayton, I have always wondered if any of these politicians actually likes to fish.

Perpich was a marginal angler but he loved working the crowds that attended the fishing openers. At the picnics and shore lunches he was followed around by an intern with a huge bag of Polaroid film and camera and by the end of the event everyone there had a picture of themselves next to Rudy, his arm slung around their shoulders.

Carlson always looked like he would rather be filing warts off toads than handling a rod. My memory tells me he only caught one fish during his tenure. It was a tiny thing he landed while fishing with Terry Tuma.

Ventura was a pretty good angler. The problem with this governor was he hated the media, even us outdoor types of communicators that didn't deserve the label of media jackals. He would tell us he was heading out at midnight then not show up until sunup. Fortunately for me, I don't get out of bed until the sun is out so I wasn't affected but there were a lot of media people waiting on the dock only to be stood up.

Pawlenty was a good fisherman. He was educated in the fine art of angling by his good buddy Eric Magnuson who I always partnered with at the event. Pawlenty also had his wife, Mary, and his Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau pushing him with friendly bets so he worked hard to catch fish. As far as working a crowd Pawlenty was almost as good as Perpich when it came to connecting with everyone that was in close proximity. He mingled, hung out and got his picture taken with everyone.

Dayton has the desire, but like most of the politicians I have fished with, the art of angling may not be one of his fortes. Dayton, unlike Ventura, said he was going to hit the water this year at the stroke of midnight and he did. He fished hard with Scott Glorvigan, an amazing angler who guided the governor on Pokegama, and only managed one fish, a small northern pike. But he worked hard to catch that fish. It was too bad the budget battles at the Capitol forced Dayton to retreat back to St. Paul early. I would have loved to see him work the crowd at the shore lunch.

One who is obviously a master at working crowds was Senator Al Franken. He also provided the best story at the shore lunch/press conference so even if he doesn't have any fishing prowess he is over halfway to becoming a legendary angler just because he has the potential to weave some whoppers when it comes to describing his fishing experience. I'm sure all of Franken's time spent writing and performing comedy has honed his timing, which will be a huge benefit if he keeps attending the Governor's Fishing Openers.

Next year, the Governor's Fishing Opener will be held on a metro-area lake, Lake Waconia. No budget battles and so close to home it will be interesting to see how the new governor will mesh with the outdoor media at this event. By then he should start reading up on the fine art of casting crankbaits because this lake has an amazing night bite casting crankbaits to the rock piles. This next fishing opener will be the one where we decide if he can join the ranks of angling superstar or maintain the position that politicians are just posers holding a rod.


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