Telling a Minnesotan there is more to the months of June through August than road construction and mosquitos is borderline heresy, but for those who can withstand being saturated in bug spray and two-lane highways, I'm here to remind us all of one summer staple that makes it all worth it: walleye.
A fish some of you southerners may have never seen on your plate, but a delicacy those familiar with the north woods can attest to. As the state fish of Minnesota, walleye have long been the angler's choice bounty but not without a bit of debate. Over the years, battles between recreational fishermen and commercial netting have colored the fish with controversy. In 2004 Minnesota's Kare11 news team exposed several Twin Cities restaurants serving a knock-off walleye being shipped in from Eastern Europe known as zander.
Battles with Native Americans' spear fishing and netting techniques have also stirred up emotion. Currently, tribes are allowed limited opportunities to commercially fish DNR stocked lakes and move their bounty tax free. Having the state essentially pay for walleye production and then allow tax free trade has rubbed several Minnesotans the wrong way.
This year the walleye limit was set to four, making it the lowest it's been for years and again stirring up discontent among many hankering for more of their favorite fish fix. The new limit is projected to decrease walleye yields by around 1 percent -- not exactly a conservation effort if you ask me. But walleye supplies have been fairly sustainable as of late. Regulations on size are meant to protect reproductive fish and keep anglers from depleting youthful stocks. These efforts have seemingly been successful and allowed Minnesota to remain the number one walleye consumer in the United States.
How does one feast on this famed fish, you ask?
Well there are a variety of ways, and depending on whether you're a home consumer or a restaurant goer you'll have some options.
I'll say this to begin: if you're in a Minnesota restaurant that has a lick of state pride, the beer-battered walleye sandwich should be a safe bet. If you're not a fan of the frier, order up a fillet and there's a good chance your dizzied taste buds will wonder when lobster migrated to the land of 10,000 lakes.
If you're cooking your fresh catch at home and can't find grandma's famous recipe, don't sweat it. There are hundreds of creative ways to cook up walleye that are only a Google search away. Two approaches I've tried recently for baked walleye and breaded walleye can be found here
, or if you want a few more options this Web site
has a great list.
But however you choose to feast, be thankful that during the three months of the year Minnesotans can walk outside without long johns, walleye give us even more incentive to get outside and enjoy our great environment.
Photo credit: Bl@ck