The Walleye is a memorable fish found in freshwater sources in North America. With their toothy appearance, Walleyes prefer cooler water and may be at risk of a decline in the near future. Check out this post to learn where to find them and how to catch them.
What is A Walleye
The Walleye (Sander vitreus) is a well-loved northern fish found in waters with cool temps. They can be confused with the Sauger, but these are two different species under the same genus. These fish get their name from the cloudy-looking eye, caused by a reflective pigment that helps them see in low light conditions.
What Type of Fish is a Walleye
Walleyes are part of the perch family and can be identified by their coloration as long as their rayed fins. Nicknames for the Walleye include yellow pike and yellow pickerel. Fun fact: there used to be a “blue” Walleye, which is now presumed extinct.
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Anglers love using Walleyes as stock fish and this species can therefore be found in quite a few different habitats. They prefer rivers and lakes, but will naturally seek out bodies of water with gravel, rock, or sandy substrate. Walleyes prefer cool water and will stay deep in the water column during the day.
Where Can I Find Walleye Fish??
Walleyes have a wide range in northern North America, beginning in the Arctic south region of Canada. They range down through the Great Lakes and east, into the St. Lawrence systems. Walleyes are most popular in the Midwest and Canada, but have been used to stock rivers and lakes further west as well.
What Do Walleye Eat?
These fish are nocturnal and seek out prey at night. Full-grown Walleyes will eat smaller fish. Larger invertebrates and insects are also a favorite of the species. Most feeding occurs around the hours of dawn and dusk.
How to Catch a Walleye Fish
There are several different ways to catch Walleyes and the jig you use will depend on your location. Whether you’re trying to find the fish, or on them and waiting for a bite, try these options:
- Jigging – This is one of the most popular ways to fish for Walleye, with both artificial and live bait working well.
- Trolling – Trolling with jigs or lures, slowly, is a great way to find where the Walleye are hanging out.
- Slip Float – Slip floats let anglers keep a line vertical, but at a distance, and play to the Walleye’s bottom-feeding preferences.
Best Walleye Fishing Lures
Mule Fishing Mule Minnow
Mule Minnows are versatile soft plastic lures. They come in a variety of sizes, but check out the 3.3 and 2.2 inch for Walleye fishing. Not only do Mule Minnows have a lot of action, they’re incredibly durable. The high-stretch plastic lasts for more than one bite.
Z-Man Diezel Minnowz
Diezel Minnowz are another soft bait that’s made with Z-Man’s ElaZtech for durability. No matter how hard you rip this bait through water and vegetation, it’ll last long and attract a wide variety of species. Z-Man labels this bait as “bulletproof,” and it’s also made in the USA.
Rapala Husky Jerk
The Husky Jerk is a hard plastic lure with great balance. It’s an awesome addition to any tackle box, especially for fishermen who love trolling. A rattle chamber amplifies the lure’s movement through the water. This lure pulls straight and comes in three different finishes.
What kind of Gear Do You Need for Walleye Fishing?
Walleyes can be extremely picky and hard to find. They’re considered a challenging fish to catch because of how hard they can be to find, but worth it – especially if you manage to reel in a trophy fish. Here are some of the basics needed for Walleye fishing:
- A lightweight, easy-to-pack fishing rod
- A durable spinning reel
- 10-15lb line
- A variety of hard and soft tackle as well as live bait
What is a Good Walleye Fishing Rod?
Temple Fork Outfitters Professional Walleye Medium-Light Fast Action Spinning Rods
TFO’s fast action rod is geared specifically toward Walleye fishing, with a sensitivity that will give away every light bite. With two lengths (6’6” and 7’), anglers can choose which size fits their preferred fishing methods. The rod is designed with a carbon fiber foundation for sturdy but light construction.
What is a Good Walleye Fishing Reel?
Lews American Hero Spinning Reel
The American Hero 200 is a spinning reel designed for rugged use. The graphite body creates a lightweight tool that’s also balanced. Fishermen love the cast-ability and smooth action in this reel.
What is the Best Fishing Line for Walleye?
Berkley Trilene XT 10 lb Monofilament Fishing Line
Part of what makes Walleyes so fun to catch is that you never know what’ll be on the other end of the line. Whether ten inches or twenty-four, it’s important to have a line that can handle the heft of the average fish. Berkeley’s 10 lb Trilene is a favorite among Walleye fishermen thanks to its durability. The small diameter also allows for great action with lures and bait.
When do Walleye Spawn
Like countless other species, Walleyes spawns in spring and early summer. They’re looking for gravel or rock beds where females can deposit more than 100,000 eggs.
How Big Do Walleye Get?
The average Walleye can reach up to 3 feet in length and 10-20 lbs in weight at their adult size. Females are larger than males.
How Fast Does a Walleye Grow?
It’s not uncommon for Walleyes to live several decades, giving them more than enough time to grow. Fish in southern areas of North America have been noted as growing faster and larger. Unlike other species, Walleyes takes a little longer to reach maturity-at 4 years. Once juvenile Walleyes are 40-60 days old, they begin eating other fish.
What is the World Record Walleye Fish?
There’s some serious controversy behind who caught the record winning Walleye. In 1960, Mabry Harper of Tennessee caught a Walleye weighing in at 25 lbs exactly-with a length of 41 inches. Harper took his fish home and ate it for dinner, as planned. Decades later an Outdoor Life writer printed an article doubting the validity of Harper’s record winning fish, of which the photo aroused suspicion.
Harper’s fish was removed from the record and replaced by Al Nelson’s 22 lb 11 oz Walleye caught in Arkansas. But over time, Harper’s relatives and supporters spoke up, more photos were found, and his fish was eventually reinstated as the world record holder as of 2019.
What is a Trophy Walleye?
Because of their size, Walleyes are popular among anglers who are looking for the bigger-is-better challenge. In Canada, a Trophy Walleye is considered any fish 27 inches or more in length. These fish are catch and release only. Other areas of the world have different requirements. Around Lake Erie, for example, a Trophy Walleye is any fish weighing 10 lbs or more. More dedicated fishermen insist that 30 inches is the absolute standard.
What Color is a Walleye?
Walleyes are most often olive and gold in color, with olive along their dorsal sides turning to gold along the flanks. Walleyes also have dark “saddles” along the back that extend on either side. Bellies are white.
What is the lifespan of a Walleye
It’s not unusual for Walleyes to live several decades, well into their twenties. In overfished populations, Walleyes rarely reach older than 5 or 6 years of age. The oldest Walleye recorded was 29 years old.
Are Walleye Fish Good to Eat?
Walleye are considered one of the best tasting freshwater fish and are a staple of Canadian cuisine. They’re great fried or served on sandwiches. The flesh is white, flakes finely, and has a subtle sweet taste to it.
Is Walleye the same as a Sauger?
No, the Sauger and Walleye are two different species, but they’re closely related. Saugers are smaller, with slender bodies and wider heads. Walleyes have a pointed nose. Both fish hang out around the bottom of the water column and eat roughly the same diet. They’re also more active at night. Additionally, Saugers have more of a brassy color to them whereas Walleyes are olive-gold. The Saugeye is a hybrid fish of female walleye and male sauger.
If you’re looking to catch a trophy Walleye, hopefully this post has given you some insight into where they can be found and what gear to use. The key to catching a this fish is variety, so make sure your tackle box is stocked correctly and you’re ready for the big hit!
What Is A Sauger – The Breakdown of the Other Tasty Fish
The Sauger is often confused with another similar species–the Walleye. Check out this post to find out where and how to fish for Sauger.
What Is A Saugeye – The Truth About This Hybrid Fish
The Saugeye is a hybrid fish that takes characteristics from both its parent fish: the Walleye and the Sauger. Learn about them in this post!