It’s fishing opener weekend here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes (11,842, actually). I won’t be on any one of them. That’s in part because it’s going to be damned cold, but mostly because
- I’m ‘po folk and don’t live on the lake, nor can I afford a boat, nor do I have any friends who meet those qualifications; and
- I can’t imagine anything less diverting than sitting for hours in an open boat on a choppy lake staring at a line hanging in the water.
Fishing opener is a Big Deal here in Minnesota, though I’m not sure why. It’s not like serious anglers can be desperately pining for the experience; only scant weeks ago they were all sitting in their fishhouses on the frozen lakes (or, for those true Minnesotans who have manly hair on their chests, sitting outside on an upside down 10-gallon pail in -35° windchill, staring into a round hole in the ice.) Fun times.
They trot out the governor on these occasions, flying him in to some obscure lake that needs a tourism boost. This year he’s on Big Sandy Lake near McGregor, up north a ways. Our current Guv is a scion of the Dayton family, which founded what is now known as Target Corporation. With a family worth of approximately $1.6 billion, I’m guessing that apart from this one day a year, Mr. D doesn’t spend a lot of his free time sitting in a 14’ Alumacraft in a bright orange life vest and wool stocking cap with a can of beer in his hand. He also will almost certainly not catch anything; as far as I recall, no governor ever has. This begs the question of why this is deemed such a prize PR opportunity for the communities that host it.
Lake Osakis, on the shores of which my hometown is situated, is one of the larger natural bodies of water in the state, comprising about 6,300 acres with a maximum depth of 73 feet. It’s long been known as one of the best walleye fishing spots in Minnesota – though that reputation is apparently not compelling enough to tempt the governor to visit OUR little burg. Hrumph.
Sadly, Osakis’s fame has dimmed just a bit in recent years; with the DNR harvesting large numbers of walleye fingerlings from our lake to dump in other people’s lakes (presumably those the governor has expressed an interest in touting; but I’m not bitter), it’s possible the fishing is, as they say, not quite what it used to be. Still, if the photos the local resorts publish are to be believed, people still pull some sizable walleyes, northerns, crappies and the like from the water. As far as I know, we’ve also escaped (so far) the invasion of zebra mussels, Asian milfoil and other “non-native species” that are wreaking havoc on the bio-culture of other area bodies of water. Fingers crossed.
(Thankfully, Lake Osakis has not experienced the ignominy that attached to a recent ice fishing tournament in a nearby town; hundreds of fishermen paid big bucks to compete for a $20,000 prize, only to stomp home mad when not so much as a half-ounce sunfish was pulled from the lake that day. Oops.)
Hereabouts, the fishing opener is complemented by an unofficial citywide garage sale “for the ladies.” (We’re all about the traditional gender roles here in God’s country.) I’ll be passing on that popular entertainment as well, as I have quite enough junk in the basement already. We had our own garage sale one year and made about $50, which, given the enormous amount of work that went into the thing, should have gotten us arrested for subjecting ourselves to slave labor.
So what do non-fisherpersons/non garage-salers do on this magical weekend? Well, since it’s forecast to be about 40 miserable degrees, I expect I’ll wrap up in an afghan, turn on the electric fireplace and watch the governor freeze his kiester on TV.