A walleye. Notice the dot on the back of the first dorsal fin. (photo: Big Stone Walleye Club)

The Frog Blog – Fish Fridays!

Today is Friday so we will be looking into another fish that may commonly be found in some lakes, the walleye (Sander vitreus).

Walleye are a very popular sportfish that can be found in many areas around the Great Lakes. In fact, many would say that they have a delectable tasting meat, further adding to their popularity. Walleye are in the family Percidae along with stream darters and yellow perch (another fish highly sought after for their meat!). This family of fishes is commonly distinguished by a pair of dorsal fins where one is spiny and the other is soft. Walleye are fairly easy to distinguish from yellow perch since they don’t have the tell-tale yellow color with black “triangles” and instead have an almost copper color to them. Also look for a black marking at the end of the first dorsal fin to help distinguish them from sauger, which almost look identical to walleye (sauger have a multitude of dots across their first dorsal fin). They also have specialized eyes that allow them to see well under low-light conditions. If you ever see a walleye swimming by you the eyes almost seem to “shine” back at you.

Walleye are cool water fishes that prefer temperatures from the 60’s to 70’s (°F) and can be found at deeper depths than some warm water species (such as largemouth bass). At younger ages they like to eat small aquatic invertebrates (insects) and are typically more piscivorous (like to eat other fish) at older ages. If you catch a walleye be careful as they are toothy and use these teeth to hold onto prey rather than chewing. It would be suggested that small pond owners not stock walleye into their ponds since they require larger space to move and grow. However, if you own or live on a large waterbody then walleye may be able to thrive. Particularly if the depth is adequate and there is enough prey for these toothy predators!

Happy Friday!

By: Edward Kwietniewski

Edward Kwietniewski graduated from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) with a Bachelor’s degree in Aquatics and Fisheries Science. He also has a Master’s degree in Lake Management from the State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta). He has a love for all things aquatic and is an avid fisherman.