Walleye Sandwich History and Recipe

They call it a fever and it strikes the strongest of fishermen every spring from April through July during spawning season in the Great Lakes region.  The cure is simple – go walleye fishing!

When the walleye spawning ritual is complete, these battered and exhausted fish move to the deepest part of the lake to rest for four to 10 days. After the rest period, the walleyes are extremely hungry, and that’s when they move back to their spawning areas and the early spring action is at its best.   As the water temperature rises and the spawn ends, in mid-July and August, the fish start moving into deeper and colder waters.


Walleye Sandwich

Photo from Culver’s Walleye.com


Walleye’s delicate meat is white and flaky and no matter how it is prepared, it is delicious.  One of the locals’ favorite ways to eat walleye is in a sandwich.  A day of fishing would not be complete without a traditional shore lunch featuring freshly caught walleye from the icy waters.  Thin fillets are breaded and either deep-fried, grilled, or pan-fried, and served in a fresh French loaf or on a hamburger bun with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce.  The walleye sandwich is also a favorite at the many fishing lodges, pubs, and restaurants in the Great Lakes region.

The walleye, a member of the perch family, is the most sought-after eating fish in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  The walleye takes its name from its unusual marble-like eye, which appears transparent in certain light.  Because of the eye structure, walleyes are extremely light sensitive.  Their large eyes help them easily find their prey.

Anglers enjoy walleye year-round.  During the day, these fish often rest on the bottom of the lake or hover in the shade of submerged objects or in the shadows of deep water. They emerge at dusk to feed over shallow weed beds or rocky shoals. I n mid-summer, they often remain near the bottom, even at night.  The best fishing times are early evening, early morning, and just after midnight.


Walleye Sandwich Recipe:
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Walleye Sandwich History, Walleye Sandwich Recipe
Servings: 4 sandwiches
  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) Walleye filets (skinless, boneless)
  • 1/4 cup liquid (water, milk, cream, white wine, or beer) of your choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1/4 cup saltine cracker crumbs or dry bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Tartar sauce
  1. Rinse filets and pat dry with paper towels; cut into sizes appropriate for sandwiches.

  2. In a flat dish, beat the liquid of your choice and egg until well blended. In another flat dish, combine flour, cracker or bread crumbs, baking powder, salt, pepper, and paprika until smooth.

  3. Dip filets into the egg mixture, then into the breading mixture (pat breading onto the filets with your fingers), shaking off excess. Place the breaded filets in a single layer on a platter or pan; refrigerate for 30 minutes (this will allow the breading to set).

  4. Preheat oven to 150 degrees F. In a large frying pan, heat 1/2-inch of vegetable oil to 365 degrees F. Add the breaded filets and fry 3 to 5 minutes on each side, turning once, or until fish flakes easily with a fork and is golden brown. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Keep war, uncovered in the oven.

  5. Serve on hamburger buns with lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes, and tartar sauce.

  6. Makes 4 sandwiches.

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