Walleye official fish of Manitoba

Manitoba's provincial fish is... the walleye.

Big bluestem, plains bison also crowned province's symbols of natural heritage

Manitoba's provincial fish is... the walleye. 2:00

Manitoba's provincial fish is... the walleye.

The province made the announcement just after 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Sara Baxter supported the move.
Sara Baxter (left) and Debbie Jordan (right) fish for pickerel on the Red River in Lockport, Man. (Chris Glover/CBC)

"It's the one fish that represents Manitoba the most, so I think ... they picked the right fish for the right job."

Fisherman Dylan Peterniak disagreed.

"Considering that Saskatchewan’s provincial fish is a walleye, I wish we could have been a bit more original and gone with the channel cat fish."

The walleye is also the official fish of Minnesota and South Dakota.

The walleye, or pickerel, as many Manitobans commonly call it, was one of several species up for the prestigious nomination.

Nearly 4,000 Manitobans cast votes on the province's website in the months leading up to the announcement.
The "Complete Angler," local sport fishing figure Don Lamont addresses a crowd at the announcement.

Walleye scored 1,450 votes, with sturgeon and goldeye coming in at 660 votes and 600 votes, respectively. Northern pike received 455 and catfish came in fifth with 330 of the total vote.

“Following extensive public input, Manitoban’s voices were heard loud and clear; they love to fish, and whether they call it a walleye or a pickerel, there’s no question this fish represents a huge part of our provincial history,” said Minister Mackintosh.

Manitoba's other official symbols

Tree — White Spruce

Bird — Great Gray Owl

Animal — Bison

Flower — Crocus

“From a child’s first fish, to one pulled in from a commercial fisher’s net, nothing represents a Manitoba catch like the walleye.”

A 2010 study found Manitoba sport fishers spend almost $200-million on fishing-related purchases. Walleye exports alone account for $29-million per year in income for the province's commercial fishing industry.

"We asked people to send in their fish stories. One person went so far as to say that the walleye defines what Manitoba summers are all about," Mackintosh said. "You can see some of the vigour that people bring to the debate."

Alfonso Maury, executive chef of Prairie 360, said the restaurant fries up Walleye — or pickerel as he knows it — more than anything else.

"The pickerel is the number one seller."

With the new honour, the fish will be showcased as the stamp on next year's fishing licence.

Manitobans also have a new official ungulate (large mammal with hooves) and tall grass as of Thursday.

Big bluestem, a tall grass found across the prairies, and the Plains bison became symbols of Manitoba's rich natural heritage.

A committee consulted with members of the public in arriving at their decision to grant the tall grass its official status.