A 20-year tradition in Altona has been noticeably absent this winter.
Pickerel has been too hard to come by for commercial fishermen in Manitoba this winter and as a result, the Altona Curling Club has been forced to cancel two of its monthly fish fries.
Al Friesen is a long-time volunteer with the club and said some fish is available for purchase but at a cost-prohibitive price. He added Facility Manager Terry Peters has explored other varieties of fish, but Friesen explained they weren't quite what the Club was looking for.
"We tried White Fish and we weren't quite happy with that, it's not as well regarded as Pickerel. And something called Basa which we also heard some things about that weren't the sort of way we would want to feature our fish fry. As a result of that, instead of going to Plan B or C and potentially disappointing people, we just had to say no."
And while the Club does have some fish sitting on ice, Friesen said it's not enough to feed the crowd that comes through the door each month.
"We at times serve up to three hundred pounds of fish. We have a reputation to uphold and we want to make sure that we don't cut anyone off.."
Friesen went on to say that the Fish Fry has become more than just a fundraiser, noting it is a community gathering place that attracts people from across the region on a regular basis.
"There are round tables, people come and they visit and many come every single time. So we are aware that this is a neat thing for the community and area to get together."
That being said, Friesen admitted that the Fish Fry is also an important part of the Curling Club's annual revenue stream, and the recent cancellations will have an impact on the bottom line. He said that lost revenue, which the Club relies on to pay the bills, will have to be made up elsewhere.
Meantime, Friesen says the Club is optimistic there will be a Fish Fry in April and urges people to stay tuned.