You are herePerch Family / Walleye


Scientific Name: 
Stizostedion vitreum

As is typical of perches, the walleye is equipped with two separate dorsal fins. The anterior fin has spines, and the posterior dorsal has 19-22 soft rays. The anal fin has 12-14 rays and two spines. The body is generally mottled with dark blotches on a yellowish-to-greenish brown background. Colors on the lower body shade to white on the belly. The lower lobe of the tail fin has a light tip. Walleyes are obvious carnivores with teeth in the jaws and on the roof of the mouth.

Fish Habits: 

They are generally nocturnal with most activity, including spawning, occurring at night.

In the spring, spawning begins when water temperatures reach 45-50° Fahrenheit. Fish begin to move upstream into tributaries. Typically, spawning takes place on riffles after fish have moved upstream, but in lakes it may also take place on rip-rap dams or reefs (as in the Great Lakes). Eggs are scattered at random by females who are accompanied by several males that fertilize the eggs. Walleye eggs are adhesive and stick to the substrate. At water temperatures of 57°F, they hatch in about seven days.

There is no nest building, and no parental care for eggs or fry. Young walleyes are fast growers and may attain lengths of ten inches or more during their first year if conditions are favorable. Although young fish may consume crustaceans and various insects and their larvae, adults are primarily piscivorous.

Walleye feed primarily at night in shallow water. During the day they move into deeper water where the light is dim. The diet of the adult walleye consists mainly of small fish and a few insects.

Adult Size: 

Walleyes typically live to be 7-8 years old and weigh 12-15 pounds. However, individuals in their mid "teens" have been collected, and the world all-tackle record is 25 pounds.

Fishing Tactics: 

Jigs, spinners, spoons or natural bait all work well to catch walleye in certain situations.

Remembering these basic facts will help you find success: Walleye tend to congregate in schools; when you catch one it is likely there are others in the same spot or vicinity. Except on rare occasions, walleye are found on the bottom of the lake, so the odds are with you if you keep your bait on or near the bottom. They are usually found near or on a sandbar or physical feature which provides a good feeding area in proximity to deeper waters.

The primary food of walleye is fish. Your bait should resemble a bait fish in some manner and be slow moving. Walleye feed primarily in late evening, at night or in the very early morning.

Adults feed entirely on other fish and are most often caught by slowly cranking jigs and spinners over bottom structures.


The walleye is native to the central portion of North America from the Rocky Mountain to the Appalachian Mountain chains, ranging as far south as Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama, and as far north as Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River and the Peace River in northwest Canada. Introductions have extended the range beyond the Appalachian Mountains in the east, to the Columbia river in the west, and as far south as Texas.

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