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Species Information

Scientific Name:Sander vitreus
Common Names:walleye, yellow pike
Environment:Lake, River, Stream
Ideal Temp:55-68°F (13-20°C)

About Walleye

Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the Northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch. The walleye is sometimes called the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, which is a subspecies that can be found in the southern Ontario and Quebec regions.

In some parts of its range, the walleye is known as the walleyed pike, colored pike, yellow pike or pickerel (esp. in English-speaking Canada), although the fish is not related to other species of pikes which are members of the family Esocidae.

Walleyes show a fair amount of variation across watersheds. In general, fish within a watershed are quite similar and are genetically distinct from those of nearby watersheds. The species has been artificially propagated for over a century and has been planted on top of existing populations or introduced into waters naturally devoid of the species, sometimes reducing the overall genetic distinctiveness of populations.

Walleyes are largely olive and gold in colour (hence the French common name: doré — golden). The dorsal side of a walleye is olive, grading into a golden hue on the flanks. The olive/gold pattern is broken up by five darker saddles that extend to the upper sides. The colour shades to white on the belly. The mouth of a walleye is large and is armed with many sharp teeth. The first dorsal and anal fins are spinous, as is the operculum. Walleyes are distinguished from their close cousin the sauger by the white colouration on the lower lobe of the caudal fin which is absent on the sauger. In addition, the two dorsals and the caudal fin of the sauger are marked with distinctive rows of black dots which are absent from or indistinct on the same fins of walleyes.

Walleyes grow to about 80 cm (31 in) in length, and weigh up to about 9 kg (20 lb). The maximum recorded size for the fish is 107 cm (42 in) in length and 11.3 kilograms (25 lb) in weight. The growth rate depends partly on where in their range they occur, with southern populations often growing faster and larger. In general, females grow larger than males. Walleyes may live for decades; the maximum recorded age is 29 years. In heavily fished populations, however, few walleye older than five or six years of age are encountered. In North America, where they are heavily prized, their typical size when caught is on the order of 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in), substantially below their potential size.

In most of the species' range, the majority of male walleyes mature at age three or four. Females normally mature about a year later. Adults migrate to tributary streams in late winter or early spring to lay eggs over gravel and rock, although there are open water reef or shoal spawning strains as well. Some populations are known to spawn on sand or on vegetation. Spawning occurs at water temperatures of 6 to 10 °C (43 to 50 °F). A large female can lay up to 500,000 eggs, and no care is given by the parents to the eggs or fry. 

Both juvenile and adult walleyes eat fish almost exclusively, frequently yellow perch or ciscoes, moving onto bars and shoals at night to feed. Walleye also feed heavily on crayfish, minnows, and leeches.

Because walleyes are popular with anglers, fishing for walleyes is regulated by most natural resource agencies. Management may include the use of quotas and length limits to ensure that populations are not over-exploited. As one example, in the state of Michigan, Wisconsin walleye shorter than 15 in (38 cm) may not be legally kept, except in Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River where fish as short as 13 in (33 cm) may be taken.

Since walleyes have excellent visual acuity under low illumination levels, they tend to feed more extensively at dawn and dusk, on cloudy or overcast days and under choppy conditions when light penetration into the water column is disrupted. Although anglers interpret this as light avoidance, it is merely an expression of the walleye's competitive advantage over its prey under those conditions. Similarly, in darkly stained or turbid waters, walleye tend to feed throughout the day. In the spring and fall walleye are located near the shallower areas due to the spawning grounds; and they are most often located in shallower areas during higher winds due to the murkier, higher oxygenated water at around six feet deep. On calm spring days the walleye are more often located at the deep side of the shoreline drop-off and around shore slopes around or deeper than ten feet.

"Walleye chop" is a term used by walleye anglers for rough water typically with winds of 10 to 25 km/h (6 to 16 mph), and is one of the indicators for good walleye fishing due to the walleye's increased feeding activity during such conditions. In addition to fishing the "Walleye chop", night fishing with live bait can be very effective.

The current all-tackle world record for a walleye is held by Mabry Harper, who caught a 11.34kg (25 lbs.) walleye in Old Hickory Lake in Tennessee, USA on August 2nd, 1960.

Walleye Fishing

World Record:11.34kg (25 lbs.) Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee, USA
# Fish Caught:76581 documented in database.
Earliest Record:7/28/1789 12:00:00 AM and located at 37.05591, -88.54739.
Latest Record:4/26/2024 4:55:53 AM and located at 41.56193, -83.65326.
Common Techniques:Casting, Fly, Jigging, Trolling
Popular Lure Types:Crankbaits, Flies, Jigs, Plugs, Spinnerbaits, Spoons, Topwater, Trolling
Fishing Spots:3569 Walleye fishing spots.

Latest Walleye Fishing Reports and Spots

First trip of the season is in the books. - 5/15/2024 8:37:16 AM

First trip of the season is in the books. The bite was fairly slow with all the wind we’ve had the last few days. Warm stable weather would be (View)

We fished the Pierre area today due to the winds. - 5/15/2024 8:38:16 AM

We fished the Pierre area today due to the winds.  The walleye seem to be a little better shape than West Bend. Our group today are from El Pas (View)

Mille Lacs Lake Pre-MN Fishing Opener Report 5/8/2024 - 5/8/2024 4:02:29 PM

Looking Forward to the 2024 Minnesota Fishing Opener Weekend Good morning everyone John here with The Red Door Resort on the beautiful north sho (View)

Mille Lacs Lake Fishing Report 5/13/2024 - 5/13/2024 3:37:00 PM

The Mille Lacs Walleye Bite is Fantastic Fishing has been Hot Hot HOT   Here at The Red Door Resort on the north shores of Mille Lacs Lake we ha (View)

Maumee river report may 1st 2024 - 5/1/2024 5:51:54 AM

Walleye still biting    In stock: Butterworms typically measure 1/2 – 1 1/2″ in length. They are a orange-yellow color and have a slightly oily (View)

Maumee River Report – April 27 2024 - 4/27/2024 5:30:45 AM

SUNRISE/ FIRST CAST- 6:37 am SUNSET/ LAST CAST- 8:28 pm Weight: 5/8 – 1 oz River Recap: There hasn’t been many people hitting the river last da (View)

Maumee River Report – April 29th 2024 - 4/29/2024 5:30:14 AM

SUNRISE/ FIRST CAST- 6:33 am SUNSET/ LAST CAST- 8:31 pm Weight: 3/4 – 1 oz  Yesterday was a GREAT day of fishing. We saw a lot of limits of wal (View)

Lake Erie “The Walleye Capital of the World” - 4/28/2024 10:31:20 AM

Lake Erie anglers can expect the 2024 fishing season to again offer world- renowned opportunities according to the DNR. Following years of stro (View)

maumee river report 23 april 24 - 4/23/2024 6:53:17 AM

  SUNRISE/ FIRST CAST- 6:42 am SUNSET/ LAST CAST- 8:25 pm Weight: 5/8 – 3/4 Leader length  bout 4- 5 ft BLUEGRASS ISLAND:  Crossing to bluegras (View)

maumee river report-25 april 2024 - 4/25/2024 5:23:36 AM

SUNRISE/ FIRST CAST- 6:39 am SUNSET/ LAST CAST- 8:27 pm Weight: 5/8 – 3/4   BLUEGRASS ISLAND:  Crossing to bluegrass Island  is  not permitted- (View)