One of the more popular sport fish, walleye are undoubtedly some of the finest table fare among fresh water fish. Native to central North America and Canada, they have been extensively stocked throughout much of the United States. It is the largest member of the perch family in North America. Walleye refers to the fish’s large, luminous eye, which give them extraordinary vision in low light.
Walleyes are a pelagic species that travel, feed and spawn in schools. They have a torpedo shaped body, forked tail, and a mouthful of sharp canine teeth. Coloration is typically a golden-brown to olive-brown, but they sometimes take on a grayish hue and can have dark-on-light mottling. The belly is white to off-white. A distinguishing mark of walleye is the white spot on the lower edge of the tail. While a typical walleye is under 24 inches and five pounds, they can exceed ten pounds and 30 inches.
Fish comprise the bulk of walleye’s diet, they frequently feeding in shallow water under low light conditions, moving deeper during bright light or use the cover cliffs, boulders, logs and even heavy weeds. Under windy or turbid conditions walleye remain more active throughout the day. Their preferred water temperature falls between that of trout and bass. Walleyes’ natural habitat includes large lakes, big streams and rivers, with cool and moderately deep water. Turbid water is tolerated.
Spawning takes place in early spring when water temperatures reach the low 40’s. They prefer area with highly oxygenated water to spawn such as rivers or windswept shorelines. Spawning occurs under the cover of darkness where the males prod the females into releasing their eggs over shallow rock, rubble or gravel areas. A five-pound female may deposits more than 100,000 eggs. There is no parental care of the eggs.