The History of Willie Walleye

Category: News Release

 Mar 10th, 2016 by OutdoorsFIRST 

Modified Mar 10th, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Willie Walleye, the 40-foot, 2 ½ ton fish which has come to symbolize the Lake of the Woods, originated as Arnold F. Lund’s idea, an idea which he recommended to the Baudette Civic and Commerce Association. With Mr. Lund doing much of the organizing for the project, the Civic and Commerce group took the job of building the fish statue.

By April of 1958, Al Anderson had translated Lund’s idea into a blueprint, using as a model a 32-inch long, mounted walleye which was on display at Joe Farrell’s Hardware Store. Within a month the concrete footings had been poured and work started on the frame. Walter C. Olson, assisted by his son, David Olson, and Luverne Larson, had the difficult task of forming a frame of steel and wire mesh to the shape of a walleye.

While Mr. Olson and his assistants were busy welding, cutting and welding some more, the Civic and Commerce Association was trying to decide on a name for the fish. The first suggestions were Mr. Walleye and King Walleye. It was decided to choose the name democratically and a ballot with five names on it was printed in the Baudette Region. Wally, Walter and Willie were the additional names on the ballot. After several weeks of voting, the name Willie won. Construction of Willie

At about the same time, George Ayotte and his helper, Russell Halvorson, finished plastering the skin. Dick Wilson had contracted to paint the statue, and the paint was applied the next spring. The statue was dedicated during Walleye Days, June 19 and 20, 1959.

Link to the Lake of the Woods Historical Society.

Return back to Lake of the Woods Tourism Website.

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