Aug. 9—Mankato's winning bid to host the Governor's Fishing Opener in the Mankato region next year with Madison Lake stands as another sign area civic leaders are making the most of Mankato's attractiveness as an outdoor destination.
The area already has one of the top trail systems in the state stretching from Minneopa State Park to Faribault and beyond. Now fishing enthusiasts will see another side of the region and may come back for more.
Hosting a fishing opener is no small task, but with the area's hosting of Hockey Day Minnesota earlier this year, there can be little doubt the fishing opener in Mankato will be one of the best in state history. By many accounts, Mankato's Hockey Day was a smashing success, among the best ever produced.
Fishing openers hosted by small communities in northern Minnesota often require 200 or more volunteers, the use of 70 "guest" fishing boats with hosts and enough money to feed 3,000 people.
Since 1948 the Governor's Fishing Opener has been a signature event to kick off the summer tourism season. The fishing opener draws tourism dollars in the millions and thousands of visitors to an area.
The host region has a chance to put its best foot forward and promote the area to visitors with the hope that many of them will come back to check out trails for hiking and biking, rivers for kayaking and canoeing and other amenities like hockey rinks and pickle ball courts.
While last year's opener was somewhat muted and changed due in part to COVID concerns, it appears next year's opener will be full throttle. Last year the fishing event was dispersed among communities in and around the Leech Lake Indian Reservation and was the first time the governor ever partnered with a tribal community.
Fishing is a big industry in Minnesota with 1.4 million anglers and $300 million in direct general tax revenue, and so the opener draws attention to a pastime that has become more popular since the pandemic.
If the success of Hockey Day is any indication, the Mankato region and its fishing and related industries are likely to benefit in the short term and the long term from the fishing opener.
Hosting the 2023 Governor's Fishing Opener will be a boon to the Mankato area and Mankato will be the perfect place to celebrate Minnesota's great outdoors.