After I went to Big Bog State Recreation Area, I decided I had to see Willie Walleye, the 40-foot, 2 ½ ton fiberglass fish in Baudette. I am a purveyor of all things roadside attractions so taking a trip to see the famed “symbol of the Lake of the Woods” was a must. The idea of a giant walleye came from local resident Arnold F. Lund. Thought to represent the world-class walleye fishing in the area, his idea was modeled in 1958 and erected in 1959. Made of rebar and cement, the statue was dedicated during Walleye Days, June 19 and 20, 1959, after which, the name “Willie” was democratically chosen. Willie is one of the most recognizable tourist attractions in the state and since become Baudette’s beloved mascot. The old Willie Walleye spent 60 years along state Highway 11 before being torn down in 2018. It has since been replaced with a nearly identical fiberglass replica. Legend has it the Willie brings luck to the fisherman. If you are in the area, make sure to visit. You can find him on top of the hill at Baudette Bay in Willie Walleye Park. It makes for the perfect photo op with the Rainy River and the province of Ontario visible in the background.
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