The History of Willie Walleye

*Credit to the Lake of the Woods County History Archives


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 Walleye20140522_williewalleye_33


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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