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We Live In Northern Minnesota, Why Is Walleye SO Expensive?

walleye fish
Scott Olson/Getty Images

On my vacation this past summer our friends purchased salmon and walleye to have for dinner one of our nights together.  I’m not a big fish fan so the salmon was OUT, but they dredged the fresh (not frozen) walleye in Shore Lunch and fried it over a camp fire.  Delicious!  I had to have more!


On rare occasion I will order fish at a restaurant.  Usually it’s cod and it’s just something to dip in tartar sauce because I’m a saucy girl.  After tasting the walleye our friends made I was on a quest to find the same great tasting meal, but nothing in the local restaurants was quite like the fresh walleye dredged in Shore Lunch.  So, we decided to try to make it ourselves.

I had been told that Cub had fresh walleye.  While they have a huge selection of fish and seafood, the day I went there was no offering of walleye.  I asked Coleen where she had gotten her fresh walleye and she told me Mount Royal Fine Foods, so I gave that a try.

Both my husband Homie and I saw $7.99 a pound and that’s what we ordered.  We discussed two things while the butcher wrapped our fish: 1.  was a pound going to be enough and 2.  should we go for original Shore Lunch batter or beer batter Shore Lunch.  When we were checking out I was busily chatting with the clerk (imagine that, me chatting away not paying attention), I swiped my card, grabbed my purchases and we jumped on the cycle to haul butt home and cook our fish.

While Homie was unwrapping our meal he said “WHOA, how much did you think we paid for our walleye?”  I answered “seven ninety-nine” and he replied “nope!”  Turned out we had paid $17.99 for our one pound!!!  How could both of us have missed that?  We must have had WALLED–eyes!  I called the butcher just to verify they hadn’t charged incorrectly and they hadn’t.  It’s not shark, it’s not barracuda and it’s not a fish that has to be shipped in from one of the Coasts, so why do we pay so much for a fish that swims in some, if not most, of our 10,000+ lakes?  Several nearing towns boast to be “the walleye capital”. We’ve decided we need to fish more next summer and maybe start ice fishing this winter if we want to have walleye dredged in Shore Lunch again.

My problem is that every time I go fishing I end up catching Northern (which people say are good to eat, but bony)

Cathy Kates Northern
Photo Credit: Coleen Nordwall

So, what’s the scoop, why is a fish that we should have an abundance of in our area so expensive?

Cathy's Big Fish Story

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