Wisconsin Governor's Fishing Opener

May 6th & 7th, 2022

Northwest Wisconsin ITBEC Tourism Committee (NW-ITBEC) is thrilled to announce the Wisconsin Governor's Fishing Opener will have a new look & feel while still holding true to celebrating fishing in Wisconsin! After many years of dedication, Wisconsin Indian Head Country, Inc. has passed the torch to a new group to celebrate Wisconsin's fishing opener. NW-ITBEC is a 12-county group dedicated to marketing Northwest Wisconsin. The event will continue to rotate around the region each year to showcase the incredible natural resources that the region offers. ITBEC will hold true to inviting dignitaries and media to celebrate the opener, while bringing a new focus of inspiring the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts to learn all about fishing. 

Find out more about the "open to the public" events for the Wisconsin Governor's Fishing Opener:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the purpose of the event?

The Wisconsin Governors Fishing Opener exists to raise awareness of the fishing and tourism industries in Northwest Wisconsin and the entire State of Wisconsin. The event strives to bring Wisconsin dignitaries, including the Governor and Cabinet Secretaries from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, to the area. A main goal of the event is to obtain significant media coverage highlighting the host community and Wisconsin’s fishing and tourism industries. It also provides a fun, outdoor-focused event for boosting networking, community pride and public engagement. One of the significant updates to the event in 2022 is a family-focused event on Saturday to inspire the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts.


Who can attend?

With the event changing hands in 2022, some changes have been made to the VIP portion of the event. While the group would love to invite everyone, due to limited seating, the banquet, destination showcase tours, and breakfast will be by invitation only. Invitations will be extended to select dignitaries and active members of the media. The Family Fishing Day and Community Fish Fry are open to the public, so everyone is welcome to attend. And, of course, everyone is welcome to join in on the fishing on Shell Lake and the surrounding lakes. More information on a public fishing contest will be coming soon.


How can I get involved?

If you have a passion for fishing or telling the story of fishing in Wisconsin, reach out to the fishing opener chair listed below.


What is the history of the Wisconsin Governors Fishing Opener?

The event was operated by Wisconsin Indian Head Country, Inc. for several decades. In 2022, the torch was passed on to the Northwest Wisconsin ITBEC Tourism Committee to keep the event alive. More history will be added in the near future.


Who is the primary point of contact? 

Northwest Wisconsin ITBEC Tourism Committee is composed of volunteers from each of the twelve counties. As such, it is best to reach out to the group via email at travelnorthwestwisconsin@gmail.com. If you have an urgent need to speak to someone regarding the fishing opener, please contact the fishing opener chair, Sherry Beckman at 715-634-4801.

About the Host Destination:

Where is Washburn County?

Washburn County is located in Northwest Wisconsin, directly between Superior and Eau Claire. Communities include Birchwood, Long Lake, Minong, Shell Lake, Spooner and Stone Lake. Washburn County is home to nearly 1,000 lakes and the Namekagon River: Wisconsin’s Moving National Park. More information on Washburn County can be found by visiting www.washburncounty.org.


What lake will the fishing take place on? 

The host lake will be Shell Lake. Shell Lake is one of the largest multi-species lakes in Washburn County. The lake is currently best for smallmouth bass and northern pike, but anglers can also find walleye, largemouth bass, bluegill, black crappie, and yellow perch. Alternative lakes may be selected by participants if they so choose. Recommendations from Craig Roberts, DNR Fish Biologist, are Long Lake (multi-species), Spooner Lake (bass, pike, panfish) and Sawyer Creek for trout fishing.


Who is the point of contact for the destination?

Kaitlin Hanson, Visitor Experience & Outreach Director for Washburn County Tourism Association, is the main point of contact for the 2022 Wisconsin Governors Fishing Opener. She can be reached at kaitlin@washburncounty.org or by calling 715-635-9696.

Thank you to the sponsors who make the event possible:

IFD Logo 2019_1 (1)
Enbridge Life Takes Energy (1)
Untitled design (4)
WCTA - BW - Transparent (1) (2) (1) (1)

Badger Docks
Best Western Spooner Riverplace
Burnett County
City of Shell Lake
Hagen Electric
Jack Link's Protein Snacks
Masterjohn Realty
Shell Lake Arts Center
Shell Lake Chamber of Commerce
Spooner Health
St. Croix Rods


Heartwood Logo