Governor Mark Dayton Recalls Fishing Highlights of His Youth

He spent summers on Lake Vermillion

An illustrated portrait of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

illustration by Michael Hoeweler


In 1930, my grandfather bought a bankrupt fishing cabin on Lake Vermilion, and it became a mecca for my family’s summer vacations. From ages 6 to 21, I spent two long weekends there. There was no I-35 highway back then, so the five-hour drive to Cook was mostly on two-lane roads. The trip lasted forever.

Our favorite weekend there was over the 4th of July. We were joined by a wonderful family, with children about our ages. Their father, “Uncle Shef,” organized countless tournaments, such as ping pong, bridge, cribbage, and charades. There were daily contests to catch the first, most, and largest fish. Sadly, my father knew very little about fishing. Thus, we spent many hours on Lake Vermilion not catching fish. (Now, with good guides, I have enjoyed great fishing there, catching and releasing nine walleyes at the 2015 Governor’s Fishing Opener.)

On the evening of July 4, our neighbor, a South Dakota resident, hosted a terrific fireworks display. How I wished then for a Minnesota governor who would make their sales legal here! After all that excitement, it was an even longer trip back home, but with many great memories and a fervent “Wait until next year!”


Digital Extra: Fishing Season

Before the Governor’s Fishing Opener on May 11-13, check out the beautiful Willmar Lakes Area in Willmar, Minnesota, where it will take place.

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