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Vikings lineman teamed up for Governor's Fishing Opener

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Vikings lineman teamed up for Governor's Fishing Opener
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

While the crowd gathered at Breezy Point Resort around noon, anxiously waiting near the docks last Saturday to hear if the governor and lieutenant governor had enough luck to land Minnesota's state fish, a crew of four anglers docked their boat and instantly changed each reporter's focus.

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Mathias Carlson, of Pequot Lakes, was one of those anglers who had just experienced the opener of a lifetime. Not only did the fourth grade Eagle View Elementary School student get a chance to take part in the 2008 Governor's Fishing Opener, he spent the morning fishing with his dad, Neil, guide Bart Taylor from Cross Lake and Minnesota Viking's offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson.

The young Carlson performed with the confidence of a veteran angler, landing the second walleye that flipped into their livewell.

It didn't take long for that boat to catch their first walleye last Saturday once the engine idled to a stop on 8,253-acre Pelican Lake. Anglers, media and of course Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau had dispersed among the flats, bars, points and bays of Pelican Lake, but the cold water, courtesy of a late spring, foiled many of the anglers.

Lt. Gov. Molnau's 21-inch walleye topped Gov. Pawlenty's 19-incher, but the boat of Taylor, Hutchinson and the two Carlson's quietly set the bar for what was deemed successful that overcast day.

Their seven walleye stringer had camera's flashing and hearts racing. At least Mathias Carlson's heart that is. After finishing a successful morning with one of his favorite football team's players, Carlson proudly held up the fishing party's largest walleye. Live bait, specifically minnows, fooled each one of their fish.

The Governor's Fishing Opener committee had contacted Mathias' mother, Natasha, Thursday night, two days before the opener, notifying her that Mathias would fish with one of the Minnesota Vikings.

"She told me that she had some very exciting news", says Carlson in retrospect. "I couldn't sleep because I was so excited". Although Natasha was excited for her son, Mathias knew she wanted to fish too.

"My mom was jealous and would've gone, but she had to go to a wedding instead."

Carlson's academic performance in both reading and math prompted the pairing with Viking's Hutchinson. His view on the 2008 Governor's Fishing Opener.

"This was the best day of my life."

Fellow Minnesota Viking's teammate Jim Kleinsasser joined Steve Hutchinson to participate in the opener. Both players were on hand to promote youth angling.

The Governor's Fishing Opener has been a Minnesota tradition since 1948 and is a celebratory kickoff to the summer tourism season.

This year 412 guests registered for the event. White Bear Lake will host the 2009 Governor's Fishing Opener. This is the first time for that community and the first time the opener will take place in the metro area. Its past focus has been to expand tourist dollars to greater Minnesota.

Dan Eigen of Walleyedan's Guide Service guided Gov. Tim Pawlenty this year, while tournament and promotional angler Tom Whitehead guided Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau.

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