Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton could not land a motel room for his Saturday, July 9 fishing trip, but he hopes to reel in a bass.
And maybe a muskie.
“I tried to get a hotel, motel reservation for tomorrow night, and they were booked,” Dayton told reporters Thursday. “So, that’s a good sign.”
Without a room to stay Friday night, the governor said he will leave at 6:30 a.m. Saturday to cast for bass fish in Lake Mille Lacs, which has been hard hit by a lack of iconic walleye fish in recent years. Walleye fishing was shut down for a three-week stretch Thursday night and it already has been a season of catch-and-release for walleye anglers.
Dayton has been part of an effort to sell anglers on fish other than walleye. The lake has been called one of the best bass fishing areas by Bassmaster magazine and USA Today newspaper and has hosted bass tournaments since the state began limiting walleye fishing.
While Dayton said he hopes to meet a bass or two, an organization supporting walleye fishing hopes to meet him.
Proper Economic Resource Management plans what its leaders called a peaceful protest to “keep our walleye fishing and save our economy.”
The group, whose protest is to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, claims the walleye fishing ban “has nothing to do with biology any more; it is all about politics.”
Dayton said his Department of Natural Resources is working on the situation, which he said is “debilitating and damaging” to people who depend on fishing to make money.
“Nobody is happy with the situation we are in right now,” Dayton said.
To draw attention to the Mille Lacs situation, Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph will join the governor on the fishing trip. Their home base for the day will be Fisher’s Resort in Isle.
Dayton plans to be on the lake two hours.
State officials do not stop with touting the area’s fishing.
“In addition to bass fishing, the Mille Lacs area offers lots of ways for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the area’s natural beauty on hiking, biking and ATV trails, watching wildlife, golfing or visiting a Minnesota state park,” Explore Minnesota Director John Edman said.
This is the second straight month Dayton has fished on Mille Lacs to bring publicity. That follows a $4 million state expenditure for the region’s economic development and promotion efforts.
Dayton, a Democrat who tried to corral lawmakers into special session to help Mille Lacs two years ago, was thrilled that so many people were coming to the area for things other than walleye fishing that he couldn’t get a spot for this weekend.
Did the inn-keepers turning him away know they had refused a gubernatorial guest? Nope, he said.
“I didn’t pull any strings,” he said, joking that if he had, those in the media probably would have called attention to that as well.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press, a Forum News Service media partner, contributed to this story.