ALBERT LEA, Minn. - Tourism is a major industry in Minnesota. According to Explore Minnesota, it brings in about $15 billion each year. That's $41 million a day. And it creates more than 265,000 jobs.
Minnesota is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes," so a big part of the tourism industry is fishing. For the first time in its more than 70 year history, the Governor's Fishing Opener will be held in the Albert Lea Lakes Area in 2019.
At Bubba's Bait Shop in Albert Lea, you can get just about anything you need for a day of fishing. The shop's owner and avid angler Danny Lugo says when it comes to fishing, the Albert Lea Lakes Area is the place to be.
"We caught a 30-inch walleye last year. The biggest Northern I heard was about 46 inches this last winter. We got actually really good fishing for the area," Lugo said.
That makes it the perfect spot for next year's Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener.
"We are so thrilled and it's just an unbelievable honor to host it," said Susie Petersen, Executive Director of the Albert Lea Convention and Visitors Bureau.
It's a unique opportunity to showcase what the area has to offer.
"Albert Lea Lake, Fountain Lake, Pickerel Lake, Geneva Lake and the Shell Rock River. They all have the walleyes there," Petersen said.
It's a chance for Lugo to reel in some big business.
"I think it's gonna bring a lot of people here, which is kind of exciting," Lugo said.
But why wait until next year? Anglers are already enjoying this year's season. That includes Heather Krall, who just got her fishing license.
"Because I wanted to go fishing with the family," said Krall.
And it looks like the fish are biting. Our camera was there to catch the moment Heather and her friends got their catch.
"Two so far. And then we released them," Krall said.
The 2019 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener is May 9-11. There will be lots of activities happening across the area, including tours and a golf tournament.