April 25, 2009

Rites of Spring

A half million walleye eggs
Hatchery operations are in full swing. The spring run of walleyes have produced their first eggs and river mouths have swelled with gawkers and poachers, trying to get a glimpse of that elusive 30 inch plus fish. Why Walleye?

It's no secret that I don't share the same fervor and ineptitude as other anglers who put Sander vitreus up on a pedestal. Our state fish does nothing for me; they are a weak fighting fish and are marginal as table fare. Their bland flaky meat is likely the reason they are prized by the largely scandinavian populations in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Don't forget, they brought us such fine epicurean delights as lutefisk. Don't load on the pepper either, it's too spicy.

While I fail to understand our state's fascination with this percid, this effectively relieves angling pressure on species that I favor to pursue. In addition, their eggs provide a valuable food source for many game and non-game fish species. So, I whole-heartedly support our State's walleye management program, as long as that brings me empty stretches of river and a low profile. I'll leave you with a pure nugget of genius from a former co-worker.

"If everyone liked the same thing, they'd all want my wife."

-the roughfisher

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  1. Must be something in your water - Walleye are excellent table fair here in NY. Sweet, slightly buttery flavor and firm, flaky texture makes them perfect for light pan frying. As for how they fight, I wouldn't know. I've only eaten them, though there is a big run in a small stream in some family property, I prefer to go there for the GIANT (for a 10ft wide stream in Upstate NY, they're 19 or 20") smallies that follow the walleye in and target small silver and white clousers (Walleye Fry).

    I suppose the time of year that you eat them matters - through the ice is the best, as with most fish.

    I'm waiting for the rainbow smelt to run in a local lake. Sure, the Lake Trout and LL Salmon come in shallow for this spectacular event, but so do the white suckers... and they're a lot easier to catch (and bigger most of the time too, approaching 4-4.5lbs for the most part).

  2. the comment was tongue in cheek; walleyes are ok to eat, but there are much better tasting fish that swim these waters. I agree that time of year definitely will affect flavor of the meat, as well as the water quality. I personally prefer coldwater fish to eat; even though they may be fattier, the meat is often more sweet and flavorful.

  3. A place where I fish in NY has a walleye stocking program and now most anglers spend most of their time going after those, usually leaving alone the pike and smallmouth I like to hit. I share your support of it.

  4. Having a Swedish missus I have the privy of every mid summer having to endure the smell of Lutefisk being past around the table. Her grandfather makes his own and loves it.....nutter. Suffice to say the rest of the family share my views that its outdated and tastes like shit.
    Here's one for you Jean-Paul.Take 2 x Walleye(Zanader here)fillets smother with Peanut butter,chilli paste,pinch salt and wrap in tinfoil and stick on the Barbie...top fare and tastes the bollocks!