Riege: Fish shallow with great hosts for the opener

Published 7:17 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Put another log on the fire, winter is not over yet! At least that is what the thermometer has to say about our recent spring season. Remember the fishing opener is a little more than a week away. I know if I am going to catch anything I have to fish shallow. In fact, the guides that were selected by for Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon have said that the ice may not be out on Fish Hook Lake by the time the opener is here.

Last Monday April 29 Explore Minnesota Tourism announced the “official hosts.” A pair of accomplished anglers from the Park Rapids area will host Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Yvonne Prettner Solon for the 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing Opener on Saturday, May 11. Jason Durham will fish with Governor Dayton, and Dennis Mackedanz will fish with Lt. Governor Prettner Solon.

Jason Durham is a Park Rapids area “lifer,” guiding visitors to the Park Rapids area since he was 15-years-old. With 22 years of experience as a fishing guide, he not only shares his favorite fishing holes, but also touts his love for the area. He has authored two fishing books, writes numerous articles for outdoor publications, and shares his fishing techniques through seminars and guest spots on TV fishing shows.

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Beyond being a die-hard fisherman, Jason is passionate about his other career, teaching kindergarten students for the Nevis School District. With a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, he is completing his 13th year of teaching young students. As a fishing guide and a kindergarten teacher, patience and flexibility come natural to Jason. Jason is married with three boys to share his love of fishing with. He also played a key role in working to get his community to host the Governor’s Fishing Opener event.

Dennis Mackedanz has been a fishing enthusiast since he was 8-years-old. Born and raised in Paynesville, MN, he grew up fishing with his grandfathers. Dennis attended college in Alexandria, earning a bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement, further pursuing a position as a deputy sheriff in Yellow Medicine County, where he honed his love of fishing. In 2000, he became a paramedic for North Memorial Health Care in the Brainerd area, enthralled with area fishing holes, of course! He began fishing tournaments with friends, placing high each year. Dennis currently serves as the manager of the Park Rapids division of North Memorial Ambulance – residing in an area that offers five lakes within minutes of his home, and which feeds his passion for fishing!

Dennis also serves as chair for the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener, guiding the Park Rapids planning committee team to host a successful 2013 event. He looks forward to “catching a memory” in Park Rapids this year.

The Governor’s Fishing Opener has been a treasured tradition in Minnesota since 1948, while fishing is a key part of one of the largest sectors of our economy, tourism. The Opener is also a kick-off celebration for the statewide summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $11.9 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually. This year’s Opener is the perfect opportunity to spotlight Minnesota fishing and the Park Rapids Lakes Area.