Governor Walz kicked off the fishing opener Saturday in Ottertail County, part of a state tradition since 1948. However he didn’t stay for any ceremony or festivities. Walz and his local guide who is also the superintendent of Bertha-Hewitt, Eric Koep, were on the lake at 5:45am and retired after Walz landed a perch a few hours later. The governor reported that he needed to be back to St. Paul to help with budgeting issues for the day. Walz also met with local organizers and took a tour of the Lund boat factory in New York Mills. Security was tight, in acknowledgment of the expectation that protesters would greet the governor and his entourage.
After lifting the mask mandate late Thursday, he did appear in person on Friday morning at a golf resort near Ottertail, handing out donuts from a local bakery and sitting for interviews with radio stations from throughout the state. Even though he was a no show to the Governor’s Opening Ceremony, event organizers made the best of it, taking visitors pan fishing, offering tours of Lund and an area state park, and opening up the bars and restaurants of the county’s many small towns to mask-free newcomers.