A month ago, the Governor’s Fishing Opener on Fish Hook Lake in Park Rapids looked to be a sure thing. But that was before Old Man Winter decided to stick around for a few extra weeks.
As of Friday, nearly 3 feet of ice remained on the lake, prompting organizers to consider backup plans if the ice doesn’t melt by May 11, when Gov. Mark Dayton casts his first line.
“People are starting to throw around the idea that we could possibly be ice fishing for the opener,” joked Jason Durham, a fishing guide and member of the host committee. “It’s going to be close.”
Alyssa Ebel, of Explore Minnesota Tourism, said the opener, held annually since 1948, has never been canceled. She said the last close call came in 1996, when the ice went out on Lake Bemidji with just three days to spare.
If Fish Hook Lake doesn’t thaw in time, Dayton may end up fishing Fish Hook River, which is nearly ice-free, Durham said. “We’ll catch fish, rain, shine or ice.”