Fish on! That’s not something you’d expect to hear much during Canada’s winter months, but because Castlegar enjoys relatively mild temperatures between December and April, and is located at the confluence of the free-flowing Columbia and Kootenay rivers, which never fully ice up, the city offers open water fishing opportunities year round.

All photos by Josh McFaddin.

Matt Guiguet is the owner of Columbia River Fly Fishing in Genelle, just south of Castlegar, and he fishes every month of the year. We interviewed him for our article about “The Best Winter Fishing Spots in Castlegar” and he offered a lot of excellent information about safety considerations, angling regulations, and what species to go after at what times. Because he prefers fly fishing, one of his favourite types of fish to catch in the late winter months is walleye. He says that the water levels are usually lower this time of year and, because walleye are particularly sensitive to light, the darker hours during the day make them easier to catch near the surface. “Walleye really like ledges, shoals and slack eddies on the edge of the fast water,” he says, which means it’s also easy for shore casters to fish for them.

Matt Guiguet in his office.

And the best part about fishing for walleye is they make for great eating! Their flesh is firm, yet delicate, with a buttery feel and a subtle, sweet flavour. On a recent excursion with Josh McFaddin of Fishing BC, Matt plied the waters of his favourite zone that is the Columbia River from Blueberry to Genelle and landed multiple walleye, which he then set about filleting and preparing for a fresh, on-shore feed. The two recipes he used to prepare the fish were supplied by Josh and are described below.

Our Favourite Walleye Recipes

Walleye Cheek Ceviche

What you’ll need:

  • A handful of fresh and raw walleye cheeks, 1-2 dozen, cut into quarters
  • ½ of a small english or garden fresh cucumber, seeded and diced fine
  • ¼ sweet white onion, diced fine
  • 8-10 sweet cherry tomatoes, seeded and diced fine
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro (optional but recommended)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • A dash of dried chipotle or chilli flakes
  • Salt + pepper to taste
  • Fresh pea sprouts for garnish (alfalfa sprouts are a great substitute)
  • Olive oil to drizzle over top (optional)
  • Toasted bread or your favourite quality cracker for scooping

How to make it:

  • This snack comes together super quick once you’ve prepped all of your ingredients
  • Start by quartering your fresh walleye cheeks and keep them cold through the process
  • Dice the cucumber, onion, tomatoes, chop the cilantro and add to a chilled bowl
  • Mix in the walleye cheeks with the lime juice, pepper flakes, salt + pepper
  • Mix well with a spoon to ensure that the walleye cheek meat is well tossed in lime juice
  • Garnish with sprouts and drizzle in a quality olive oil
  • Spoon over warm toasted baguette slices or enjoy with a tasty cracker

Pan-Seared Walleye With Pasta

What you’ll need:

  • 4 fresh + boneless walleye fillets
  • 2 servings of fresh or dry pasta noodles
  • Your favourite tomato sauce (I used something with roasted red peppers)
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Chilli flakes or fresh chopped chilis
  • Olive oil
  • Salt + pepper
  • Fresh parmesan cheese
  • 1 fresh lemon (optional)

How to make it:

  • Heat a nonstick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat.
  • At the same time, boil a pot of salted water and cook pasta
  • Season the fresh walleye fillets with salt, pepper and chilli flakes
  • Add oil to your pan, sear the walleye fillets on both sides and cook through. Refrain from moving them around in the pan once they’re placed to ensure they don’t fall apart. The meat is delicate and flakey. Likewise, when flipping, use a wide spatula and flip carefully.
  • Remove the cooked walleye and set aside
  • In the same pan, warm the tomato sauce. Once heated through, add fresh torn basil leaves
  • Add hot cooked noodles to the sauce and stir
  • Serve the pasta hot with the walleye resting on top
  • Garnish with fresh basil leaves, shaved parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil and a few drops of fresh lemon juice
At the end of your meal, pack up your gear and prepare to do it all again the next day.