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Opening day is a matter of tradition and some 'pogy-bait'

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outdoors Park Rapids, 56470
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

There must've been a mix-up at the Post Office. The dark cavern of my mailbox didn't have a single "fishing opener eve" party invitation. I figured someone would throw a celebration, but alas, no RSVP cards or announcements appeared.

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On second thought, maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea anyway - a bunch of anglers standing around in flannel shirts and jeans that haven't been washed since 1987's opener, covered in who knows what, while hands caked in crawler bedding reach into the bowl of potato chips.

Fishing opener is one of Minnesota's most popular statewide activities, yet Midwest television stations don't air parades complete with oversized walleye-shaped balloons or marching bands and apparently there aren't any fishing opener cartoons to fuel the little kiddies' excitement in the week or so before the big date.

Sure, a mob of media representatives and a core group of anglers attend the Governor's Opener, but it's not anything Hallmark is soon to recognize, so I propose we initiate some new traditions for fishing opener.

Maybe anglers could put a scoop of minnows under their pillows before bed on opener eve for the "Fish Fairy." Or we could possibly go house-to-house dressed up in fishing attire, rapping on doors and holding out a bag for homeowners to drop a lure, bobber or gob of angleworms into.

Better yet, fishing opener could become something like Valentine's Day. Everyone would exchange cards with witty sayings like, "Come fly with me" and the card would have a picture of a hand-tied trout fly on the front. Instead of heart-shaped boxes of candy, people would give their friends fish-shaped boxes of sinkers.

Yet even without the fanfare surrounding traditional holidays, fishing opener offers people reason to celebrate. It's the end of a long winter, permission to engage in a relaxing, outdoors experience and of course, the time of year when Dorset restaurants open once again.

My opening day traditions are fairly tame, spool on some fresh line and bring along plenty of pogy-bait. No, pogy-bait isn't some super-secret, fish catching minnow or worm, but is another name for snacks, something that's typically stockpiled in my boat.

Some people take things more seriously. One friend won't shave until he catches his first walleye of the year. I'm not sure how much time he actually devotes to accomplishing the task, because he hasn't shaved for three years. Maybe this year he'll finally reveal his cheeks via walleye and subsequent razor.

A clan of my guide clients have a tradition of bringing along special sandwiches they call "stinkies." It's a combination of onions and a certain, pungent cheese that smells like a container of leeches forgotten under the July sun. The kind-hearted souls make an extra sandwich for the guide each time, but I've learned to eat a big breakfast and graciously decline the offer.

Whether your opening day tradition is ordinary, unique or downright bizarre, today is a chance for Minnesotan's to unite on the water, in the bait shops and at the public access to share in a life-long pastime that only Mother Nature can offer - fishing!

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