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Wadena County man to guide governor during fishing opener

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Ray Gildow, a longtime professional fishing guide in the Brainerd lakes area, will be Gov. Mark Dayton's guide in the 2014 Minnesota Governor's Fishing Opener on May 10. Toby Kvalevog, also of the Brainerd area, will fish with Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Explore Minnesota Tourism officials said Friday.

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This will be Gildow's fourth opener where he's served as a guide but in all of the previous events he said he's hosted media anglers.

A casual acquaintance of the governor, Gildow said, he served as Wadena County chair of Dayton's first U.S. Senate campaign. Dayton lost that race. Gildow and his wife, Staples residents, also visited with then Sen. Dayton in Washington, D.C., before 9/11.

Although he's guided many important business officials, Gildow said Dayton will be the biggest celebrity he's ever hosted on the water.

He was asked earlier if he'd like to be considered to be selected as the governor's guide on Gull Lake and was recently informed he was the choice.

"It's a very nice honor," Gildow said.

A U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain, Gildow has been a professional fishing guide in the Brainerd lakes area for 25 years, according to the news release. His love of fishing dates back to his toddler years, when he learned the sport from his father and grandfathers. He calls Gull Lake his "second home" after fishing there in every season since junior high. Additional contributions to the Minnesota fishing industry include his book, "Legends and Legacies: A History of the Nisswa Guide League;" his Lakeland Public Television show "Lakeland Currents;" and his weekly fishing report on the "Brainerd Outdoors" radio show.

"It is a distinct honor to be chosen as the governor's fishing host for the 2014 Fishing Opener," Gildow said in the statement. "This is one of Minnesota's richest historical traditions, and I am extremely humbled to be a part of it."

Beyond fishing, Gildow keeps himself busy as the chair of the Staples Motley Area Community Foundation, a board member for Lakeland Public Television, a drummer and singer with his part-time band, and a husband, father and grandfather.

Kvalevog, a fisherman for 35 years, has called the Brainerd lakes area home since 1999. He considers the area a "multi-species mecca" thanks to the diversity of fish that can be caught here, including walleye, bass, perch, northern pike, muskie and crappie. He enjoys the strategy that fishing requires, as well as the memories and long-lasting relationships he has built over the last 12 years as a fishing guide on Gull Lake.

"It is an honor and privilege to have been selected to fish with Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon for the 2014 Minnesota Fishing Opener," Kvalevog said. "Fishing is all about making memories, and for me, this will be one that lasts a lifetime."

Kvalevog is an eighth grade physical education teacher at Forestview Middle School in Baxter, and enjoys hunting and playing and coaching hockey. He lives in the Brainerd area with his wife, son and two daughters.

The Governor's Fishing Opener has been a tradition in Minnesota since 1948. Fishing is a key part of one of the largest sectors of the Minnesota economy, tourism, state officials said. The opener is also a kick-off celebration for the statewide summer tourism season. Travel and tourism generate $12.5 billion in leisure and hospitality gross sales in Minnesota annually. The annual Governor's Fishing Opener is an opportunity to spotlight Minnesota fishing and the Brainerd lakes area. For more information, visit www.mngovernorsopener.com.

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