KIM: The world of walleyes, or is it walleye?

I’ve been doing it for years but I’ve always wondered why.

If you catch a walleye everyone knows you are talking about a single fish. But if you say “walleyes” you’ve got more than one. Or have you just messed up the English language?

This is an instance, it seems to me, or us, or them, in which you can have it both ways – singular and plural. And here’s the fun part, the words are interchangeable. It is proper to say you have caught a limit of walleye or a limit of walleyes. Huh?

Why does this make sense? I mean perch, no matter how many you are talking about, are perch. Same goes for trout, bass, catfish, pike, deer, antelope and bighorn sheep. You get the idea. Saying trouts, basses, pikes, deers and such is wrong when applied to a single species. So why is it okay to add an “s” when talking about more than one walleye?

The answer is…..it just is. There’s no hard and fast rule to follow on this one. You can catch a limit of five walleye or five walleyes. It’s the same thing. Even your English teacher will agree, or should.

For you high school and college writing class students, try writing you caught a limit of “perches” in your next essay and see what kind of grade you get. Good luck with that. Don’t “blames” me.

My favorite fish to hunt and catch is northern pike. In the course of a season I catch a lot of pike but, even during my best day on the water, I’ve never caught a bunch of “pikes.” However, I could say, quite properly, that I’ve caught a lot of muskies. Muskies is the universally accepted plural of muskellunge. Then again, I surmise, so is muskie.

The unfortunate reality is, I don’t have to go there much because muskies, or muskie, or musky, have always been my nemesis. Better make that nemeses, which is the weird plural for nemesis. I think.

One of the reasons I fish is to get away from such stressful mind games. Maybe from now on I’ll just fish bluegill.


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