Dilly family lands a pair of large walleye just 24 hours apart on East Battle Lake

By Chad Koenen

Contributed photo
Jim Dilly and his grandson Carter Dilly recently reeled in this 12 lbs. 9 oz. walleye on East Battle Lake.


A fishing tale is only as good as the person telling the story, or the pictures and videos to back up the larger-than-life claims of catching a freshwater Moby Dick.  

You know the kind, the 4-foot-long monster that got away at the last minute, only to swim to the bottom of a local lake, only to never be seen again. Or the large walleye that no one took a picture of before it jumped out of the boat and swam away like Michael Phelps in the Summer Olympics.  

  Retold time and again, the details and drama of these tales age like fine cheese, wine and evolve to contain the imagination that can best be told by a young child with little snippets of the actual truth. 

Fortunately for the Dilly family of Henning, not only do they have great stories to tell about a pair of large walleyes they landed on East Battle Lake, but they have the pictures to back up their claims.

Just one day after his cousins landed a large walleye in their fish house, Carter Dilly caught a 29.5” 12 lbs. 9 oz. walleye in the family’s fish house on East Battle lake near Vining. The Henning High School sophomore caught the large fish with the assistance of his grandpa, Jim Dilly.

“First I thought it was a northern and when it came up and I saw the white of the tail, I was in shock when I first saw it,” said Carter. “Once grandpa pulled it up I was happy as could be.”

Jim said the fish started coming up the hole in the fish house sideways and he immediately went down after the fish. Knowing it would be a challenge to get the beast out of the hole, they worked together to pull it up and made sure they didn’t knock it off the line. 

“We walked with both our hands in the gills until we got outside,” said Jim. “That thing was so huge. You should have heard Carter. He let out a hoot and a holler and gave me a hi five.”

Once they got the fish out of the hole, Carter said the main goal was to cut the line and get the fish out of the fish house so they didn’t accidentally drop it and lose it back down the hole. Grasping on tight, neither Dilly let go of the fish until they got out of the house to safety. 

“When it came out of the hole our main goal was to cut the line and get it out of the fish house,” he said. “We both stuck our arms down and grandpa got his gills.”

The trophy fish came just one day after his cousins, Lane and Addison Dilly, caught a 7 pound fish near the same spot on East Battle lake. The pair missed the fish just a short time before they landed it when their line snapped right before they pulled it out of the hole. Jim left the ice house just a short time after they missed the fish the first time and was surprised when Addison brought the fish to Jim’s house later that night to show him what they finally caught. 

While the family has been setting up their fish house on East Battle Lake for the past 40 years, typically the family catches a mixture of northern pikes and other fish. The 24 hours of fishing over Christmas break was something they will not forget for quite some time. 

We walked with both our hands in the gills until we got outside. That thing was so huge. You should have heard Carter. He let out a hoot and a holler and gave me a hi five.

– Jim Dilly on helping his grandson catch a 29.5” fish on East Battle Lake recently

“This winter we went fishing pretty much everyday over Christmas break,” said Carter. “I just enjoy being out there catching fish with the family.”

In order to help remember the fish, Carter is planning to get it mounted. Though he has caught walleyes before, this was by far his largest one. 

Jim said the family has a bit of a tradition as the first walleye each child or grandchild catches is mounted and placed on a wall in their home. The tradition started when his son Luke was five or six years old and caught a fish that was about 12 inches long. Excited about his fish, Luke wanted to have it mounted and began a tradition that continues today.

“The very first walleye the kids catch we have mounted,” said Jim.

Now the family has a wall of fish from their children and grandchildren to mark the important milestone in their life. Well, and a second one to add from Carter, that will be a story that can be told through the excitement, pictures and words to describe the day he landed a 29.5” walleye with his grandpa on East Battle Lake.