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Jun 26, 2007 11:41 PM

Minnesota: Panfish other than walleye

I like wall-eye. Good wall-eye, well prepared. But the littler fish, to me, are tastier.

But, since I have not angled since I was in my teens, I have not had some sunnies or crappies for a long time. Does anyone know of a restaurant that serves these panfish?

Or, do I have to go get a license?

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  1. I don't recall having seen panfish on restaurant menus. That said, I would never order walleye or fish I can catch myself from a restaurant so I may have seen it and not paid any attention to it.

    I'm not entirely familiar with the ins and outs of commercial fishing but I would imagine panfish are not commercially fished or even conducive to commercial fishing. Not enough market demand for them, inefficiency of cleaning, not a lot of profit to be made for the work...those would be my suspicions. I have absolutely no evidence to support those guesses though.

    Go grab a license, cheap fishing rod, and a good filet knife (or make friends with someone with the above). Bring a kid along!

    1. I remember seeing some pan fish, sunnies or crappies, at Lund's last year. I thought they were very expensive, but I fish and get sunnies and crappies when I want them. I'll keep a look out for you.

      1. There are certain things that you just can't buy, like fresh chokecherries and tiny panfish.

        But this thread mentions a buffet with sunnies and crappies at Nancy's Landing in Waconia:


        1 Reply
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          The pan fish at Nancy's Landing was my mention. They were fried and part of the buffet special. They probably are not a regular menu item but this time of year they may be available regularly in their buffet.

          As for walleye I am maintaining this pictorial gallery on those succulent sandwiches.

        2. Fisher's Supper Club in Avon, Minnesota off I94 a few exits North of St. Cloud has sunfish on its menu:

          Tues - Sun, evenings only, summers only. I'll write more on this later. I'm kind of wiped out right now.


          1. oooh I love panfish - especially crappie & perch which I think tastes like walleye. I love to catch & cook my own fish though so that is usually how I get my panfish.

            I used to work at a restaurant on Mille Lacs lake as a teen, and they would allow people to bring in fish they caught and the chef would prepare them for you, and you would also get the salad bar, potato etc., for a pretty cheap price. That restaurant is gone but I'm almost positive that there are others in resorty parts of the state that do the same thing.. usually called something like a "you catch em we cook em" special.

            At the restaurant I worked at the Walleye came from Canada. I was always under the impression that most native MN fish could not legally be sold to restaurants.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Jitterbug

              That is correct--all commercial walleye sold in Minnesota is from Canada.


              1. re: Jitterbug

                I don't think it's a question of legality, it's just that nobody in MN commercially farms them. That's what the fish guy at Lund's told me.

                Also, I think I saw a sunfish platter as a special at Vic's this past weekend, but it's not on their regular menu.

                1. re: Loren3

                  I'm not familiar with walleye farming--I was referring more to the fishing limits in Minnesota, which are exceedingly restrictive, and, as a result, most, if not all, walleye --certainly wild-caught--sold at restaurants in Minnesota are from Canada.


                  1. re: Loren3

                    There are a couple of points on the (non)availability of MN walleye as I understand it:

                    1. Commercial fishing of any kind in Minnesota (if I remember correctly) is only granted to Native Americans

                    2. The specific nature of our lake bottoms (sandy vs rocky) means that MN lakes tend to have a higher mercury content than other places.

                    As to the original question - panfish is very hard to find on any restaurant menu... the only place I have run across it has been G's Cafe in Anoka, and that for only a very short time this spring.

                    1. re: djohnson22

                      Here's some pretty good information from MPR about Walleye fishing by the Red Lake band in Minnesota and some of the overfishing issues, etc.

                      From 2006

                      From 1998 (when the problems were at their worst: