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In Wisconsin, Friday means fish fry. But expect to pay more.

Published: Feb. 19, 2021 at 9:56 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In Wisconsin, Friday means one thing: The Friday fish fry.

“Tonight I’m going to enjoy perch, and my husband is going to enjoy the baby pike,” diner Rose Rothe told us.

However, Rose and others are going to be paying a bit more for that plate of perch this year. It’s another way the pandemic is affecting this Wisconsin tradition.

In Wisconsin, Fridays are for fish, especially during Lent.

Owners of the Redwood Inn expect to go through hundreds of pounds of yellow perch per week.

“400 to 500 pounds, especially during Lent,” and even during a pandemic, owner Pat Smits said. “It’s getting better, and thank God we’ve got the best customers in the world.”

But a typical plate is going to cost you $17.50, a reflection of the cost to get it.

“North American yellow perch right now, market price, about $13.25 per pound,” Dave Fisher, seafood specialist at Meat Processors, said.

A few years ago, the price for yellow perch was about $10 a pound, but like everything else over the last year, the pandemic drove up the price despite a fall in demand.

“Right now perch prices are up, but it’s... artificial,” Fisher said. “A lot of it is people sitting on a lot of high-priced inventory and don’t want to see the price drop to where it normally would, so it’s unusual.”

Fisher says this is due to distributors stocking up last year but then not being able to sell to restaurants which were forced to close last March.

However, Smits says business is coming back. “We have not had a problem with our lake perch. They pick it up, order to go. They’re coming in and eating it.”

“For over 40 years we’ve been coming here,” Rose said, “So it’s wonderful. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”

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