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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton has his feet up Saturday while fishing with Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh on Gull Lake near Nisswa. The governor was out fishing at 12:01 a.m. and 8 a.m. Saturday but did not catch a fish. Dayton was fishing in the 67th annual Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener hosted by Grand View Lodge in Nisswa and the Brainerd area. Forum News Service

Funny weather leaves area anglers cheerless in opener

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Gov. Mark Dayton didn’t have any luck landing a lunker on Minnesota’s fishing opener in Brainerd and few, it appears, did much better.

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As openers go in west-central Minnesota, this one was fair to cloudy.

The weather was mild (in the 50s) but the lakes are cold and the fish, overall, seemed disinterested.

“It was terrible,” said Steve Mitlyng, who for 40 years has run Mitlyng’s Bait and Tackle on Lac qui Parle, near Watson. “Worst opener I’ve ever seen. I think three people caught fish.”

Late ice-outs, windy, cool conditions and water temperatures in the 50-degree range made a lackluster opener virtually a given, Mitlyng said.

“It was cold, the water’s dirty and (fish) populations are low in this area,” he said. “The water temperature is 54 degrees and it should be 65 to 66 degrees.”

At Kandiyohi Park No.1, near Blomkest, managers Bud and Judy Groen said it was a quiet weekend. A dozen empty boat trailer were in the parking lot Saturday morning.

An east wind required extra layers and left Big Kandi bumpy on the windward. The day had dawned sunny and ended that way with widespread showers early in the evening. The good news is that all the repeated spring showers have brought lakes back close to normal and filled the potholes.

Norway Lake’s southside access was full Saturday morning but on Sunday afternoon there were just three pickups with trailers. A half-dozen boats could be seen on the lake, which measured 51 degrees. The conclusion: why waste a second day on the water if the fish are uncooperative on Mother’s Day.

“It was pretty darn slow,” said Ron Dilley, of Dilley’s Resort on Norway Lake’s west side. “We had a big group of about 18 guys go out and they caught 18 fish. And they were out there pretty steady. I figured on that. (The lake) opened up pretty late and the water’s pretty cold.”

At J’s Bait & Sport in Willmar, M. Jabran Mustafa said business was brisk Friday and Saturday, the anglers lured not only by live bait but burgers and brats. Mustafa said he registered an 8-pound walleye, allegedly off Lake Elizabeth, south of Atwater.

Up at Brad’s 71 Bait & Sports, on Eagle Lake, owner Brad Foshaug said his shop had its slowest opener since he took over from the Shimek family in 2001.

“It should be better in a week,” he said. “The fish are dormant, still recuperating from spawning. And the lakes are still just 51, 52 degrees.”

Jeff Arends, who was clerking Sunday at 71 Bait, said it’s the slowest he’s experienced in 30 years while helping out on openers at Eagle Lake.

Reports from Green Lake indicated the same: cold water, wind and cool temps kept all but a handful of boats off the lake.

There were reports of northerns coming off Lake Florida and Point Lake in the county but few anglers were touting walleyes strikes.

By moonlight or by sunshine, it didn’t seem to matter for Dayton, who had nary a bite in two outings Saturday in the 2014 Governor’s Fishing Opener on Gull Lake.

“I don’t know what the world is coming to — I didn’t have a nibble,” a smiling Dayton said of his 12:01 a.m. outing Saturday.

“The fish were there but they wanted nothing to do with me,” he added before heading back out from Grand View Lodge at just after 8 a.m. Saturday. “Now if the fish will jump in the boat.”

They didn’t.

Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon bested the governor, catching a nice walleye on her second cast under the moonlight early Saturday. She caught another walleye minutes later.

Under sunshine and equally-as-ideal conditions later in the morning, the group got only a few bites, including a perch that Prettner Solon caught and released.

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