- Associated Press - Saturday, May 14, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Minnesota’s walleye season got off to a chilly start Saturday as temperatures in the 20s and 30s, and even snow flurries in some places, greeted anglers as they took to the lakes and rivers.

Freeze warnings and frost advisories were out for a large part of Minnesota when Gov. Mark Dayton headed out onto on Big Sandy Lake near McGregor in northeastern Minnesota for the 69th annual Governor’s Fishing Opener, a tradition since 1948. Dayton and his party had to bundle up against the cold and wind, but they managed to catch some decent fish. The temperature was 32 degrees for the send-off ceremony at Big Sandy Resort.

Dayton and legislative leaders who fished with him claimed success. The Democratic governor landed one walleye, one crappie and two perch, while Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt caught two walleyes, and Democratic Assistant Senate Majority Leader Katie Sieben got one walleye, two crappies and a perch. Lt. Gov. Tina Smith landed only one fish, but her walleye was the first catch of the day for the official party.

Henry Drewes, the Bemidji regional fisheries manager for the Department of Natural Resources, said he didn’t expect the cold to deter many anglers on the opening weekend.

“People have the tradition and they don’t let weather stop it,” he said. “And they’re going to give it a go.”

DNR officials estimate that around 500,000 anglers will fish on a typical opening weekend with decent weather, and the agency estimates that $1.58 billion is spent annually on sport fishing in Minnesota.

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