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Governor’s Fishing Opener to shine spotlight on Brainerd lakes region

BRAINERD, Minn. -- The ripple effect of hosting the 67th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener will send waves across the Brainerd lakes region for years to come, organizers say.

The area will be home to the opener Thursday through May 11 on Gull Lake, with headquarters at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa.

It will pull in up to $2 million in marketing for the lakes area, organizers say. But it’s the new relationships and partnerships that will have a long-lasting impact, said event co-chair Steve Mau.

“There are so many different groups in the community coming together that haven’t had to or weren’t willing to work together in the past,” he said. “Now they’re coming together for a common cause. That will bear fruit for years to come.”

That’s perhaps the magic of the fishing opener.

Organizers are optimistic that Gull Lake will be clear of ice by the big day. They’re hoping the cold, rainy weather will disappear, too.

Other years the Brainerd lakes area has hosted the event include 1989, 1993, 2001 and 2008.

Each time the fishing opener is here, it shines a spotlight on the lakes area, said event co-chair Frank Soukup.

“That’s individual businesses and outdoor recreation and fishing as a whole,” he said. “You’re bringing that much focus here, and it’s shared among all the communities.”

About 100 media representatives -- print, television and radio -- are being pulled in from across the Midwest and Canada.

Journalists will have the chance to ride the mountain bike trails of the Cuyuna area or the paved Paul Bunyan State Trail. Media representatives can test out a race car at the Brainerd International Raceway or shoot an arrow at Mills Indoor Shooting and Archery Center, golf at one of many area courses and eat at several area restaurants.

It’s those exposures that will extend the Brainerd lakes area’s reach far beyond the Midwest, Soukup said.

“Anything we can do to help the Brainerd lakes area stand out from some other resort areas works as a plus for us,” he said.

About 550 attendees are expected for the main event May 10, while more than 5,000 are expected at the community picnic Friday.

The weekend has been a year in the making, with about 450 community members involved with organizing and volunteering.

The 2014 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Gull Lake is being hosted by the Brainerd Lakes Chamber and host property Grand View Lodge in collaboration with the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce. The event is being coordinated by Explore Minnesota Tourism, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

If You Go


Government leaders, media representatives and visitors start arriving.


4 p.m.: Free community picnic under a block-long tent in downtown Nisswa; open to everyone. More than 65 vendor booths throughout downtown offering games and activities

4:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Local bands and musicians perform.

8:30 to 10 p.m.: Gear Daddies reunion concert in downtown Nisswa, followed by fireworks.

*All musical performances are free.

May 10

12:01 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Fishing challenge

For a complete list of activities, visit

Boat raffle

Raffle tickets are $5 each for a chance to win a 2014 Larson boat package valued at $38,110.

For a list of ticket locations, as well as where to find the boat on display, visit

The winning ticket will be drawn at 7 p.m. May 10 at Grand View Lodge. Funds raised go to pay for the opener event. After event expenses are paid, any balance left over is designated for marketing efforts to promote the Brainerd lakes area.