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Minnesota State Fish

Walleye Fishing Minnesota Lakes

The Minnesota state fish is the walleye. The popularity of walleye fishing Minnesota lakes is one reason that the walleye was chosen as one of our Minnesota state symbols. In addition to the walleye being a favorite catch for anglers, it is a tasty food item. The thick, white fillets of walleye are a popular featured dish in many Minnesota restaurants.

Minnesota State Fish

The walleye gets its name from its large, pearly "google eyes". The eyes have a reflective layer of pigment that allows the fish to see and feed at night or in murky water.

Savvy anglers know that the chances of catching walleye are greater at night because that is when they feed.

The Minnesota state legislature named the walleye as the Minnesota state fish in 1965. Here are a few "walleye facts:

  • The walleye has a green/gold coloring that fades to white on its belly.
  • The walleye can reach a weight of about 20 pounds and a lenth of 31 inches.
  • A walleye can live to 29 years of age under the right conditions.
  • The state record walleye weighed in at 17 pounds, 8 ounces.

Walleye fishing Minnesota lakes and rivers draws millions of visitors to Minnesota every year and is also one of the most popular sports for residents. Catching walleye is at the top of the list for most people who fish in Minnesota. The best walleye lakes include:

  • Lake of the Woods in Lake of the Woods County
  • Cass Lake in Beltrami County
  • Leech Lake in Cass County
  • Lake Winnibigoshish in Cass County
  • Lake Vermilion in St. Louis County
  • Rainy Lake in St. Louis County
  • Lake Kabetogama in St. Louis County
  • Mille Lacs Lake in Mille Lacs County
  • Lake Pepin in Goodhue County

Minnesota ice fishing makes fishing for the Minnesota state fish almost a year round sport. Once the ice freezes solid on the large lakes, vast "villages" of fish houses appear and ice fishing becomes a way of life for the winter.

Where is the Walleye Capital of Minnesota or
the Walleye Capital of the World?

Roadside art, in the form of giant fish, animals and other objects is popular in Minnesota. So, both before and after the walleye was chosen as the Minnesota state fish, towns began to make a claim that they were the "Walleye Capital" either of Minnesota or of the world and to erect giant walleye art. 

Garrison, Minnesota may have been the first to declare themselved the capital. Their fiberglass fish is right alongside Lake Mille Lacs which is certainly one of the most popular walleye hot spots. More than once we have stopped for a photo of Garrison's big fish and for views of this beautiful lake.

Baudette, Minnesota's forty foot long Willie Walleye was built in 1959 and is the largest of the state's giant walleye replicas. Baudette hosts a "Willie the Walleye" festival the first week in June.

The Lake Kabetogama replica was built in 1949 and features a ladder that allows you to climb up on the big fish just in case you want a photo of yourself riding an outsized denizen of the lakes. See this one alongside Highway 53.

Just off I-35 near a Rush City convenience store you can see yet another tribute to the walleye. Isle, Minnesota also sports a big walleye statue while resorts on Zippel Bay at Lake of the Woods claim “Walleye Capital of the World” status to promote theirr great ice fishing.

Whoever wins the "battle" for the title, the Minnesota state fish is a popular roadside attraction. 

Baudette's Willie Walleye

Minnesota State Fish

Walleye Recipes

So, you caught your limit of the Minnesota state fish and need to know how to cook up your lovely fillets. There are lots of walleye recipes. We'll just start you off with the basics. The first one can be prepared as a shore lunch right after the fish are caught and cleaned. The second needs an oven.

Pan Fried Walleye


3-6 Tablespoons butter
Salt & pepper to taste
4-7 pounds fresh walleye


1. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet. 2. Add walleye fillets, salt and pepper to taste. 3. Cook walleye for 6 to 10 minutes, or until meat is white and flakes easily with a fork.

Easy Baked Walleye


3 tablespoons melted butter
4 (4 ounce) walleye fillets
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil


Preheat your oven to 500 degrees F
Pour the melted butter into a 9x13-inch baking dish. 
Place the fillets into the butter, skin-side-down. Sprinkle evenly with lemon pepper and basil. 
Bake in the preheated oven until the fish is opaque and easily flakes with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes.

Walleye Fishing in Minnesota from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

Minnesota State Fish

Related Pages:

Minnesota State Bird

Minnesota State Flag

Minnesota State Motto

Minnesota State Song

Minnesota State Tree

Back to Minnesota State Symbols

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