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Can You Eat Walleye?

The walleye is the state fish of Minnesota, South Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont. Walleye, a popular freshwater game fish, gets its name from their eyes that reflect light and help them to see clearly in dark water. Can you eat walleye? The fact that they are so mouthwateringly delicious is why fishermen love to catch them.

Walleye fish closeup held over the water

Do People Eat Walleye?

The walleye is one of the healthiest freshwater fish in the country. Like most other fish, walleye does contain some mercury. To be safe, make sure that they came from fresh, clean water, and if you angle yourself, take note of the signs at the fishing spots. You can also check on the internet if any consumption warnings were issued for specific areas.


What Does It Look Like?

Sander vitreus, or walleye, is a common freshwater fish with an olive and gold color, black stripes and spots across its back, and a white underbelly. They have two dorsal fins, a spiny one and a soft-rayed one. Their big mouths are full of razor-sharp teeth, and their vision is excellent for finding prey in dark, murky water.


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Walleye can grow to 18 inches in length and weigh between one to three pounds. They are a popular sport fish in the Northern regions of the US and Canada. The world record for the biggest walleye is a 25 pounder that was hooked in Tennessee in 1960. The oldest walleye lived for 29 years.


Where Do They Live?

Walleye prefer the cold freshwater of North America all the way into Alabama and Arkansas, and they are also found in the Mississippi River Basin. Their eyes are sensitive to light, so they typically live at depths of between 10 and 30 feet in the murky water of rivers, streams, and lakes. They are often found at the bottom around rocks and plants hiding away from the light.


What Does It Taste Like?

Absolutely superb! This is one of the mildest tasting fish and also one of the favorites. The flesh is moist and firm, yet delicately flaked and soft with a subtle flavor. The meat is pink but changes to white when cooked, and it also has very few bones.

Breaded walleye fillet

What Is the Best Way to Prepare It?

There is nothing you can’t do with walleye, but baking, frying, and grilling this palatable fish is the way to go. It tastes best when seasoned with lemon pepper, paprika, basil, cumin, thyme, garlic, and black pepper. Drops of lime or lemon and a bit of butter enhance the taste. A side dish of onion rings, coleslaw, French fries, or a garden salad rounds it off perfectly.


Can You Eat It Raw?

It can be eaten raw, but yet again, make sure that that you know where it was caught. Eating raw fish could cause illness. It is imperative that the fish was pulled out in clean water and that the fish itself is fresh. Raw walleye is fabulous with fresh lime, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a dollop of smooth, unflavored cottage cheese.  


Can You Freeze Them?

This fish keeps well when frozen, but this does intensify the taste. The longer you keep walleye in a freezer, the fishier it will taste. Make sure that all the air is out of the bag, seal it well, and write the date on the package. Do not freeze walleye for more than three months.

Fresh deep fried Walleye

Is It Healthy?

Walleye is an excellent source of protein that helps to repair the body and omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart and brain. Walleye is also rich in vitamin D and calcium for strong bones.


For generations, the walleye has been one of America’s favorite eating fish. It’s healthy, readily available, and affordable. With walleye, it can be said that the thrill of the chase comes second to the taste.


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