Walleye

Sander Vitreus

Related Species

Sauger; yellow perch; sauger/walleye hybrid

AKA

None

Coloration

Olive to brown above fading to white on the belly

Field Marks

Numerous sharp teeth, large glassy eyes that glow at night when light is shone on them

Habitat

In lakes, rivers and reservoirs, usually over firm bottom such as sand, rock or gravel; occasionally near vegetation but not in it.

Feeding Habits

Feeds heavily on food fish such as perch, shiners, smelt, or shad

Comments

The walleye is second only to the largemouth bass in popularity in the U.S. It reigns supreme in Canada. It is a wary predator and a worthy fighter.

WI Record

18 lbs, 0 oz. , 09/16/33 High Lake, Vilas County

Scientific Name

Sander refers to the German common name of the European relative) and vitreus means “glassy”, referring to the large eye.

Distribution

It is believed that the walleye was originally confined to the larger lakes and waterways in Wisconsin. The extensive stocking of walleye fry and fingerlings that occurred early in many Wisconsin waters partly obscured the original distribution of the species. Today the walleye is present throughout Wisconsin.

Spawning

The spawning migration of walleye begins soon after the ice goes out, at water temperatures of 38 – 44º F. Spawning in Wisconsin generally occurs between mid-April and early May, although it may extend from the beginning of April to the middle of May. Walleye spawning ordinarily reaches a peak when water temperatures are 42 – 50º F. The walleye is not a territorial fish at spawning time; they usually broadcast their eggs and exercise no parental care.

Angling

The walleye is one of the most highly prized game fishes in Wisconsin. Thousands are caught each year during their spring spawning runs. Walleyes are primarily minnow feeders, but leeches, small bullheads, night-crawlers, and various small plugs are favorite baits. In clear waters, walleyes usually stay in deeper areas during the day, moving into the shallows at night. In more turbid waters, they can be caught throughout the day. The large, unusual eyes of the walleye are designed to help them easily find their prey.