The song that went viral before the Internet even existed

The song “Walleye” by the Hula Poppers debuted in 1986 on a vinyl 45, then evolved to compact disc to satisfy the demands of juke box owners. Recently, it resurfaced when a stash of CDs was discovered that had been stored for years.

Young people today believe they started the whole “viral” phenomenon. Ha! Such arrogance. In fact there were many viral episodes that occurred before the web even existed. Consider the pet rock. Everyone had to have one in 1975. How about the Walkman, a portable cassette player that no one could live without in the early ’80s? A song that I can relate to that created a viral explosion in 1986 was “Walleye” by the Hula Poppers.

A parody of the popular song “Rawhide,” when “Walleye” was released it received non-stop airplay on the radio in the Upper Midwest. For the entire month of April and the first couple of weeks of May the song was played as a run-up to the Wisconsin and Minnesota fishing openers on rock, country, and even jazz and oldies stations.

“Trollin’ Trollin’ Trollin’ Walleye” is how the song begins as it weaves hilarious verses into a chorus that describes the feelings that every walleye angler gets just prior to hitting the water for their favorite species.

The song was so popular that every juke box in every bar in the Midwest had a vinyl 45 set up for play. Yes, the song was originally released on a vinyl 45. You could rarely get through a burger and fries without hearing it a couple of times no matter what time of year. It is a song that gets a laugh every time it’s played and one you never tire of hearing.

As juke boxes moved from vinyl to compact disc, the demand for discs was obvious so the music distributors added those to their program. Today the juke box is non-existent, replaced by a digital interface connected directly to overhead speakers. You access the song playlists on your smartphone. So as technology moved forward the song eventually disappeared. The only way to find it was to search for the occasional vinyl 45 or CD that would pop up on eBay.

I hadn’t thought about the song, “Walleye” for years, but I heard recently from a friend that someone found a stash of the rare compact discs and has put them eBay. Of course I went online and ordered a copy. To many, this is the greatest fishing song ever recorded, and I wanted to own a copy while it was still available. Sometimes our memories create a situation where something is remembered as being better than it was, and when you find it again it’s not as good, sometimes not even close. But when I got the CD and played the tune, it was better than I remembered!

I’ve loaded a sample of the song on a web page, so check it out if you want to bring back some memories. There is also a link to the eBay page if you want to add this song permanently to your playlists.

“Gut ’em out, fry ’em up, walleye.”

Categories: Blog Content, Tim Lesmeister, Walleye

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