What’s the best eating fish in American waters?

A Pend Oreille River walleye caught in late June

This Pend Oreille River walleye took a Shad-Rap crayfish crankbait in 7 feet of water.

Fresh Caught Walleye

I now release most of the trout and bass I catch, though some make it to the table. I like to eat fish knowing they are good for me and my guests, but some fish populations can’t take heavy cull ratios. So they go free.

But walleye…that’s a different thing. I’ve been on two trips now to Lake Roosevelt to fish with Jim Meskan of Kettle Falls. Both times I’ve come back with a limit of 8 about the size of the one above that I took off my dock in the Pend Oreille River.

A Basket'aWalleyes is every fisher's quest whose enjoyed a walleye fillet at the dinner table.

A wild rose compliments this basket of dinner-sized walleye taken from the Columbia River recently above the China Bend launch. It's an abundant fishery of fine tasting tablefare.

I’m a gourmet. I love to cook, especially for guests. Cooking was my profession in the early days when writing was far more elusive. Now it’s a daily hobby and a creative outlet. From time to time, I will post original recipes of fish I choose to kill.

I believe in releasing young and even large fish back into their environments, especially in areas where fishing pressure is great. But there are populations that need culling in order to produce larger fish.

Managing the ecosystems of various fish habitats can be challenging. But knowledge accrues and we’re seeing some fine success stories on waters like Lake Pend Oreille where the population of inland freshwater sockeye salmon known locally as Kokanee nearly collapsed for a number of reasons. Ultimately it was realized that an over abundance of predators in the lake system were taking out greater numbers of kokanee than we had reproducing. The culprits were Lake Trout and Gerrard Rainbows. I’ll get into that later; suffice to say, the bounty set on those two species achieved its intent. Kokanee (the next best plate of fish in American waters) are returning in numbers sufficient to lift the ban on catching them–probably next year.

For now, a monthly trip to Lake Roosevelt and membership in the Kettle Falls Walleye Club seems reasonable, even intelligent.

What’s your favorite dinner fish?

~Dwayne Parsons     www.twitter.com/#!/ifishwrite