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Raising Walleye

Walleye are one of my favorite fish species to catch – and eat. They are an emerging species for aquaculture operations and will command a good price for market-ready sizes.

Walleye can be raised in ponds, cages or tanks. However, they’re a bit more high-maintenance than some other species.

Joe Morris is an extension aquaculture specialist at Iowa State University. He says walleye require high-quality, cool water conditions. They don’t like bright light, it stresses them out. And, they need to be trained to eat the high-protein commercial diet you provide for them rather than eating their siblings.

"These are top predator fish and so they’re used to chasing live prey. They’re not like catfish or used to eating all kinds of food substances," says Morris. "Walleye like to eat live prey so what you’re trying to do is convince them that that nugget of food you’re trying to provide to them is something that they want to consume. So, you have to deal with palatability and visibility of the pellet."

When finding a market for walleye, he says it’s important to know the social demographics of an area.

"You’re dealing with probably white tablecloth restaurants, start with that," he recommends. "Go into local seafood markets or grocery stores. I do see walleye being sold on-and-off in that but it’s usually at the higher end. You have to keep in mind that when they’re selling them $10, $12, if not more, I’ve seen them $20 a pound on the retail side, you really have to think, how do you attract the consumer willing to pay that kind of money, then what volume of animals are you going to be selling at that price?"