Help area make most of fishing opener – St. Cloud Times

Between the seasonal flood of boat and outdoors shows inside and the May-like temperatures outside, it’s not hard to start planning summer fun.

Central Minnesotans, though, have an even better reason to anticipate spring and summer: The St. Cloud metro area is the host for the 70th Annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, May 11-14. It’s the first time this nationally known event is being held on a river in the heart of an urban area.

The event will feature fishing from boats and along the shore of up to 35 miles of the Mississippi River. It includes a free community picnic at Lake George, educational opportunities, entertainment and many other events. More than 550 guests are invited, and several hundred local volunteers will help out.

More importantly to the area, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show a national audience all that’s great about St. Cloud. The St. Cloud Area Convention & Visitors Bureau projects the area will receive about $5 million in media exposure before, during and after the celebration.

And here’s where you come in: There are several ways to be involved.

Fishing hosts

The marquee angling event of the weekend is when the governor and invited guests wet a line to start the 2017 open-water season Saturday, May 13.

These folks need fishing hosts. Especially needed are fishing hosts willing to share their boats with one or two invited guests on the Mississippi. Jerry Carlson, a Times columnist and well-known local outdoors personality, is lining up volunteer hosts. He said about 50 more are needed.

Hosts can choose a section of the river on which to fish. Basically, the sections are accessed at Wilson Park, north of Sartell and south of St. Cloud State University. Details and an application are available at https://www.regonline.com/builder/site/Default.aspx?EventID=1887277.

Carlson also is looking for a few riverfront property owners willing to host anglers on their docks. He welcome inquiries at jerrycarlson@cloudnet.com or via 656-3810.

By the way, if you need a reason to host other than sharing your passion for local fishing, please know fishing hosts receive a commemorative fishing package worth several hundred dollars. They also get to attend a free dinner May 11 and meet their fishing partners May 12, all at the River’s Edge Convention Center.

Raffle tickets

Even if you don’t fish, you still can do your part — and perhaps come away a big winner.

Organizers on Wednesday kicked off another tradition — the “Fishing Opener Raffle,” with three big prizes to be awarded May 13. Tickets cost just $10. They can be purchased at the CVB, 1411 St. Germain St.

The grand prize is a 2017 Sun Tracker Fishin’ Barge 22 XP3 boat, 150-horsepower Mercury four-strike engine and trailer package. Estimated at a value of $40,000 courtesy of Tracker Boats, this rig, which comes with a bow trolling motor and electronics, will be making appearances across the metro area until the drawing May 13.

The second prize is a Quick-Set Shelter from Clam Outdoors, and third prize is a $500 Scheels gift card.

The St. Cloud Area Sports Commission is conducting the raffle. Tickets are being sold by sponsors and volunteers. Plus, if you have a nonprofit seeking to raise some funds for itself, check with Julie Lunning at the CVB. She can explain how helping sell these tickets can pay off for that group.

Proceeds help cover costs of the celebration.

Community picnic

The main event for the public during the Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener weekend will be a free community picnic from 4-8 p.m. Friday, May 12 at Lake George.

Details are still in the works, but likely highlights include educational and recreational exhibits about fishing and Minnesota’s waterways, plus a program and musical entertainment.

For more information on the 2017 Governor’s Fishing Opener, visit http://www.mngovernorsopener.com/.

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