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Gov. Dayton's Final Fishing Opener Boosts Spicer's Profile, Economy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- For 71 years, the Governor's Fishing Opener has been about much more than just the fishing.

It is about the publicity that comes with the event, and the point of pride it is for the town that lands the opener.

At Mel's Sport Shop in Spicer, it is a terrific weekend to be selling bait and tackle.

"It's been good," said owner Gregory Melges. "We've been busy."

But that is not really out of the ordinary for the 61-year-old institution, and the 79-year-old institution that owns the place.

"I started in 1957, the year I graduated from high school," Melges said.

Mark Dayton's Final Governors Fishing Openr
Gov. Mark Dayton at his final Governor's Fishing Opener (credit: CBS)

He has lived in Spicer his entire life, and he is excited to show off his hometown, and Green Lake, to the rest of the state.

"The community is a beautiful community," he said. "We have one of the purest water lakes in the world."

Marv Calvin is the mayor of Willmar, and he would not be doing his job if he was not leveraging this opportunity to boast about what the area has to offer.

"The financial impact of the publicity that comes with this is great, but more importantly is it gets people to see what a great community we have," Calvin said. "You know, we want people to know that in this part of the state, it's a great place to come and recreate. We've got a lot of things, this is where the lakes began."

And now, this is where Gov. Mark Dayton's run of fishing openers comes to an end. His last time out, with local guide Kelly Morrell, yielded no walleye, but did bring in three bass.

"Kelly overcame the Dayton hex, and I caught three bass, made my whole day, made my last fishing opener special," Dayton said.

Besides some fish, Morrell is hoping visitors this weekend take back with them some new appreciation for this area.

"I want them to know that we offer a lifestyle, OK, that's unmatched across the state," Morrell said.

Dayton made a point of saying that although this might be his last Governor's Fishing Opener, it will not be his last fishing opener. He said he still has got a couple of grandsons with whom he plans to spend future openers.

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