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A Guy’s Weekend Guide to Minnesota’s Fishing Opener and Golf
If you think golf or fishing sound like great ways to spend a guy’s weekend, Minnesota’s Fishing Opener might the right time and place to do both. The “Land of 10,000 Lakes” treats its fishing opener like a semi-official state holiday, and the state is near the top for most golfers per capita in the country, so it’s no surprise that many Minnesota resorts offer great accommodations for both activities.
With the state’s fishing season set to open on the weekend of May 11-13, 2018 (the Governor’s opener even has its own website) here are some of your top options for mixing fishing and golf in Minnesota, either for the fishing opener or any other guy’s weekend.
Gull Lake Offers Three Prime Lakeside Resorts
In Minnesota, you can hardly cast a line without hitting either a lake or a golf course, so your best move for a guy’s weekend is to find a region where you’d like to golf or fish, then zero in on a place for both. The Central Lakes region, in the heart of the state, features Gull Lake and a host of great golf resorts located around it. Gull Lake offers great walleye, largemouth bass, crappie and other species, plus there are 144 holes of golf on or near its pristine shores.
Grand View Lodge, in Nisswa, features the acclaimed 27-hole Pines course, the original course in the area, plus the nine-hole Garden course. Cragun’s Resort, on Gull Lake in Brainerd, is home to the two championship tracks of Bobby’s Legacy and Dutch’s Legacy, plus the Reversible Nine. You can enjoy the beautiful 35,000 square-foot Legacy Clubhouse before heading out to wet a line. And Madden’s, also on Gull Lake in Brainerd, has 63 holes of golf on four courses, including The Classic, which is renowned for its beauty and challenge.
“Gull Lake is right smack in the heart of all of those courses — Grand View to the North end of the lake and Madden’s and Cragun’s on the South end,” says Dan Eigen, local fishing guide and golfer. “Gull is a healthy lake. It has a good population of walleyes, and it’s been known as a walleye lake. It’s loaded with structure, so the fish have many different places they can be.”
“It’s a good bass lake, as well,” he notes. “It’s a good pike lake and a good panfish lake — a real quality fishery that is right in the heart of all those courses.”
On Par Golf and Fishing Accommodations in The Alexandria Area
If you want something a little more off the beaten path than the Brainerd area, head Northwest out of the Twin Cities area toward Alexandria, where the fishing and golf is every bit on par with the Central Lakes area. The Alexandria area is home to a chain of great fishing lakes — Lake Geneva, Lake Carlos, Lake Miltona, Lake le Homme Dieu, Lake Ida, and more. And the golfing is top drawer — Arrowwood Resort, and Thumper Pond Resort — are not to be missed.
“It’s a phenomenal area,” Eigen says. “The lakes are eutrophic, so they are fertile and in some of the smaller lakes around there, you’ll get bigger panfish. There is also the Vikings Sportsmen club in the area, that for a number of years has raised money just for walleye stocking.”
Take Advantage of The Northern Trilogy in Tower
If you want the secluded beauty of the northern Minnesota woods, you won’t have to sacrifice anything in terms of hitting your driver on incredible courses or driving your boat across shimmering, fish-filled lakes. The Northern Trilogy of Giants Ridge (The Legend and The Quarry) in Biwabik and Wilderness at Fortune Bay, in Tower, by architect Jeffrey Brauer, will capture your golf imagination while the numerous area lakes (including Lake Vermillion on which The Wilderness courses resides) will give you fish fever.
“Lake Vermillion is an awesome fishery,” Eigen says. “It’s a very well-known muskie lake. It’s a great walleye lake, it has a great population of smallmouth bass, and it’s probably one of the prettiest lakes in the state.”
Anywhere you travel in Minnesota, even if you stay in the Twin Cities area where fishing and golfing opportunities abound, you can’t go wrong. Just make your plans early for the fishing opener, which is May 11-13 this year, so you won’t miss any strikes from hungry fish or early birdies on a nearby course.
Dan Eigen is the owner of Walleye Dan’s Guide Service in the Brainerd area, and host of Fleet Farm’s “We Love it Outdoors” TV show.