ALBERT LEA, Minn. - At the celebratory dinner for the 2019 Governor’s Fishing Opener, Gov. Tim Walz announced that next year’s event will be held May 7-10 in Otter Tail County. Thumper Pond Resort near Otter Tail Lake will serve as event headquarters.

"Otter Tail County offers terrific fishing," Gov. Walz said. "I'm excited to kick off the summer fishing season in central Minnesota and I can't wait to get out on the lake."

Located in west-central Minnesota, Otter Tail is one of the largest counties in the state at more than 2,200 square miles. Otter Tail also contains the most lakes (1,048) in any U.S. county, including the largest area lake, Otter Tail Lake (14,074 acres).

"Otter Tail County is a classic lakeside Minnesota getaway," said John Edman, director/CEO of Explore Minnesota. "Our organization is incredibly excited to work with these friendly, energetic communities on one of our biggest cooperative promotional events of the year."

“I’m happier than a gopher in soft dirt” said Erik Osberg, who works for the county and will serve as volunteer chairman for the 2020 Governor’s Fishing Opener host committee. “We are perfectly positioned as a county to pull off a successful event.”

Osberg attended the 2019 Opener, and said he marveled at the level of energy exhibited by the volunteers in Albert Lea as well as staff members from the Governor’s office, Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota DNR. “It’s a tough act to follow, but we’re excited for the opportunity to showcase our area,” he said.

While Otter Tail Lake will serve as the hub for the event, Osberg said he wants to showcase as many lakes as possible. “Walleyes will be the primary focus, but we also have world-class panfish fishing and some of the best bass fishing in the state,” he added.

The Governor's Fishing Opener has been a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. The event was designed to promote the development of Minnesota's recreation industry, and in recent years, it has served as an iconic kick-off celebration for the summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $15.3 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually.

Recent Governor’s Fishing Opener locations

2020 - Otter Tail County

2019 - Albert Lea

2018 - Willmar Lakes area

2017 - Greater St. Cloud area

2016 - Big Sandy Lake, McGregor

2015 - Lake Vermilion area

2014 - Brainerd Lakes area

2013 - Park Rapids

2012 - Waconia

2011 - Grand Rapids

2010 - Lake Kabetogama