Nicole Lalum, Central Regional manager for Explore Minnesota, spent a couple of hours Wednesday, May 29, on the Red River with local catfish guide Brad Durick along with East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander and Stephanie Bernstrom of the Greater Grand Forks Convention and Visitors Bureau.
She watched Gander and Bernstrom reel in three big channel catfish.
“She was really impressed with the experience,” Gander said. “She really enjoyed that we have such a wilderness area with not a lot of development along the banks of the river. She felt like that was pretty unique, and of course the ducks get up off the water and fly with the boat and the deer are running along the shore with you.
“She was just taking it all in.”
East Grand Forks is exploring the possibility of submitting a bid to host the 2021 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener, but that’s “not 100 percent yet” and wouldn’t happen until November, said Julie Rygg, executive director of the Greater Grand Forks CVB.
The CVB is funding the research on hosting the event and efforts to attract Explore Minnesota staff such as Lalum.
“We’re definitely leaning that way based on the research we’ve done,” Rygg said. “It is quite a long process and we probably will be up against at least six other communities for this. We would love it if it was a shoo-in for us, but it will be a pretty big process and a pretty big undertaking to acquire it.
“But we’re very positive that East Grand Forks would be an absolutely unique and wonderful site for it.”
Ultimately, the governor’s office picks the host site for each year’s Governor’s Fishing Opener and won’t announce the site for the 2021 opener until the conclusion of next year’s event in Otter Tail County, Rygg said.
Hosting a Governor’s Fishing Opener on the Red River definitely would be a departure from traditional events, Gander said, most of which take place on walleye lakes.
“There’s nowhere you can pick up channel cats this big, so it’s kind of a one-of-a-kind experience,” he said. “So, I think she was looking for ways that this will be kind of a unique venue for the governor, and I think we were able to point out quite a few of those that it won’t be any kind of a ‘me too’ event.”
Lalum was “giddy with delight” at watching her hosts reel in the three big catfish, Gander said.
“She just sat back and watched the excitement,” the mayor said. “I feel like a great connection was made just watching those cats come in.”