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Park Rapids hopes to land Gov's Opener

Park Rapids is preparing to put in a bid for the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener, hoping to lure the Governor, his party and 350 guests to catch a nice lakes area walleye like this one landed by Steve Flynn on Potato lake last week. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

Local residents have been abuzz this past week contemplating the idea of hosting the 2011 Governor's Fishing Opener. A public meeting was held on Monday and the Park Rapids Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that they would be submitting a formal proposal for the 2011 opener.

There is definitely a great deal of legwork involved to host the Governors party. It's the additional hundreds of anglers, media and prominent political figures that require the host city to begin their planning process a year in advance.

Typically more than 100 boats set adrift on the host community's lake of choice for the Governor's Opener. That part alone could be a challenge for the Park Rapids area.

In 2008 Breezy Point hosted the GFO on Pelican Lake, an 8,253 acre body of water. The Governor's party went to White Bear Lake in 2009, which has 2,427 acres to accommodate anglers. And in 2010 the event will travel to Lake Kabetogama, which boasts 24,033 acres of water.

When Park Rapids launches a proposal for 2011, the only lakes that come close to being large enough are Potato Lake (2,100 acres), Long Lake (1,974 acres) and Fish Hook Lake (1,642 acres).

On top of having enough space for boats to move around on the lake, the selected body of water should additionally put out some of those beautiful Park Rapids area walleye. All three of the lakes, Potato, Long and Fish Hook have potential, though the walleye action on Long is typically minimal around the opener because of its slow-warming deep water.

The next key is having a host facility. That facility, whether it's a resort, business or private home, must have plenty of dock space for the boats coming in to enjoy their noon shore lunch, not to mention ample parking for the media vehicles with their satellites protruding from the roofs that relay the day's success to news and radio stations across the state.

Though the host facility doesn't need to have sleeping quarters for 350 or more people, it does require plenty of "green space" for a crowd of guests to wander about. This river may be the most difficult for the Park Rapids community to fjord.

Yet out of any community in the state, Park Rapids could easily land at the top of the Governor's choices for an opener event. In fact, the area was the governor's choice in the late 70's.

Back then Vacationaire was the host facility on Island Lake (544 acres). Tim Young, who operated a guide service in Dorset, where the restaurant LaPasta currently sits, guided Minnesota's Governor, Al Quie that day. Tim now owns and operates the Y Steak House.

Dick Winter also fished the event and brought Eric Gislason on the water, though they chose not to fish on Island Lake. Eric now works for the popular TV show Kent Hrbek Outdoors.

And in 2011 Park Rapids could again accommodate the Governor, if volunteers and fundraising is secured; which could prove to be the largest lunker to land.