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FISH SAVVY: Reflecting on parallels of 2013 and 2022 fishing openers

Local fishing guide Jason Durham writes, "There are numerous parallels between the 2013 opener and the 2022 opener. But it’s the differences that give anglers a greater advantage this year."

Fortunately, far more lakes are ice free and water temperatures are warmer this year, compared to 2013 when Park Rapids hosted the Governor's Fishing Opener.
Contributed/ Jason Durham
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Minnesota’s walleye opener is an annual angling celebration deeply ingrained with traditions and memories.

Anglers exchange opening-day predictions across bait shop counters more frequently than currency.

Stories from the past fill the interior of every fishing boat as the occupants struggle to hold a rod with their fingers crossed.

The 2022 Minnesota walleye opener mirrors previous years in that some people will catch fish, while others simply won’t. In fact, there’s never been an opener where every angler caught a walleye or where every angler didn’t.

With such a cool spring and ice out dates that rival records, one common comparison continually arises: 2013. That year, many lakes set records for the latest ice out dates ever documented.


This presented a challenge for the Park Rapids community, as they hosted the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener.

Beyond the logistics of accommodating several hundred guests, including media, dignitaries, professional athletes and a few thousand locals gathering for the community picnic on Main Street, a festival celebrating fishing, nearly 100 volunteers were set to host visiting guests for an opener morning of fishing on Fish Hook lake.

But Fish Hook lake was still covered with ice.

The event committee decided to allow all anglers hosting guests in their boats to diverge from the original plan and simply “find open water.”

Though there were a considerable number of boats that converged on the Fish Hook River due to the ceremonial send-off that required open water, the fish were nearly non-existent.

Anglers heading to other bodies of water shared similar reports. Some small pike and a few crappies for those who decided to change their approach.

Yet whether it’s opening day, a local fishing tournament or a family fishing get-together, someone always seems to do well.

If you consider the 29-inch walleye caught on Two Inlets Lake at the 2013 opener, you might think during a similar, cold water opener such as this year, fishing that lake for a few hours might be worth a try.


But if you consider how many anglers caught nothing except a glimpse of that fish from a distance as the angler held it up for pictures, another lake might be a better choice.

One boat exploring a well-known lake during the Governor’s Opener in 2013 found the right spot at the right time and skipped the celebratory shore lunch at Northern Pines Church Camp so they could remain fishing, catching walleye, northern pike and bass steadily throughout the day, finally heading to shore after most of the event’s guests had completed the long commute back home.

There are numerous parallels between the 2013 opener and the 2022 opener. But it’s the differences that give anglers a greater advantage this year. Far more lakes are ice free, water temperatures are warmer, and according to the forecast, high winds, snow and near-freezing temperatures aren’t on the radar for opening day like they were in 2013.

Hope remains and as a close fishing friend once said, “Catching fish is easy. Being in the right spot when they’re hungry is the challenge.”

Jason Durham is the owner of Go Fish! Guide Service. He can be reached at 218-252-2278 or

Go Fish! Guide Service Inc. Home Page
In Park Rapids, the Let's Go Fishing Headwaters Chapter has been cruising now for over 10 years.

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