Most anglers rank walleye as one of the most popular species of fish with good reason. Walleye have ferocious appetites, and grow to an average of 2-4 pounds. Fishers are sometimes lucky enough to land a catch in the 3-6 pound range. The world record is a 25 pound walleye caught in Old Hickory Lake, Tennessee, in 1960. If you hook a big walleye, you’ll likely have a good fight on your hands. The species is also highly regarded as superior table fare. They make a tasty meal of delicious, firm white meat.
Walleye are fresh water fish, known by the scientific name Stizostedion vitreum. They are the largest member of the perch family. The walleye got its name because of its large, glassy eyes, which are milky-white. Walleye are also known as walleyed pike, pickerel, jackfish, and dore. The species is found mainly in the lakes and rivers of the northern United States and some parts of Canada. Walleye usually concentrate in schools and prefer slightly muddy waters. They also favor reefs and sandbars.
The elusive Walleye prefer a water temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so they generally feed near the surface at night and head for cooler, deeper water at sun-up. But there are exceptions. Some walleye like shallow water and hover around heavy weeds for cover in the daytime. One of the best times to catch walleye in shallow water, of less than 10 feet, is when the water becomes choppy on a cloudy, breezy day. They usually retreat to 30 feet or deeper if the water is calm. Many fishers say that the best way to catch an elusive walleye is to experiment and find what works on any particular day. That means you might have to try live bait one day, and switch to jigs another day, and then take a crack at bobbers the next time.
Walleye begin spawning in the spring, as water temperatures rise. The spawning typically takes place close to shore in stony-rubble areas of shallow waters, between 1 and 6 feet deep. The males move into the spawning area first. The females follow and each deposit an average of 200,000 small eggs in just one night of spawning. Walleye usually spawn for a couple of weeks A good time to fish for walleye is after spawning, when they feed heavily before heading to deeper waters. It’s also a time when there are larger concentrations of walleye in smaller areas.