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Walleye (Pickerel - dore)
The walleye is a freshwater fish that is found
in most of Canada and to the northern United States. It’s a
close relative of the European pikeperch. It’s sometimes
referred to as the yellow walleye so that it is distinguished
from the extinct
which was found in the Great Lakes area and lake Nipissing in
In the English speaking areas of Canada, the walleye is known as
the pickerel or the yellow pike even though the fish is not
related to the pikes. It is well known as the "dore" in French
portions of the province.
Because the fish has been artificially propagated for over 100
years there is a lot of variation across the watersheds. Usually
fish within watersheds are very similar but the Walleye are not
because of this. They have been put into waters that don’t have
the species which has reduced the genetic distinctiveness of
Their name the walleye comes from the reality that their eyes,
just like cats, reflect light. The “eyeshine” comes from light
gathering layers in their eyes that allows the fish to see
really well in low light conditions. Anglers look to catch
walleye’s at nights since this is when they are feeding. The
walleye’s eyes also give it the ability to see well in rough
waters. This eyesight gives them a distinct advantage over their
prey. So what do anglers do? They look for days and locations
where there is rough water to go walleye fishing. The fish’s
eyesight also allows for them to populate and go into the deeper
water in a lake. They do this primarily in the warmest part of
Walleyes color is usually olive and gold. The
olive side of the fish is the dorsal side. The flanks grade into
a golden hue. The color is broken up by five darker saddles that
go up to the upper sides. On the belly, the walleye is white.
The walleye has a large mouth with lots of sharp teeth. The anal
and dorsal fins are full of spinous material. The sauger fish
looks a lot like the walleye but the distinction is the white
color on the lower lobe of the caudal fin on the walleye. The
sauger does not have this. Also saugers have rows of black dots
on its fins and the walleyes do not.
Walleyes grow to be about 31 inches and can weigh up to 20
pounds. The biggest one caught on record is one that was 42
inches in length and weighed 25 pounds. The fish’s growth rate
depends largely on where it is located when it is growing. The
walleyes in the southern populations usually grow faster and
larger. Also, females are usually bigger than the males.
Their life span is pretty long. The longest recorded age for a
walleye is 29 years. However, in those areas that are fished
heavily, rarely are fish over 5 or 6 encountered. In North
America where they are considered a prize, they are usually
caught when they are 12 to 20 inches. This is way below their
Just like most fish, walleyes increase in weight as they grow
longer in length.
In the majority of the range of the species,
the male walleyes mature at age 3 or 4. Females normally don’t
mature until about a year later. Adult walleyes head towards
tributary streams in late winter or early spring. They do this
to lay eggs over gravel and rock. They do also lay eggs on reefs
and shoals as well. Some are even known to spawn on sand or
vegetation. The water temperature for spawning is 43 to 50
degrees F. A female that is large can lay up to 500,000 eggs.
After the eggs are laid the female gives no care to the eggs.
The eggs then will fall down into spaces amongst the rocks. The
eggs hatch from 12 to 30 days. The hatching period of time
depends on the water temperature. After the eggs hatch they
spend a week or so absorbing yolk. Next they feed on zooplankton
and then after 40 to 60 days they can eat small fish. Walleyes
love to eat minnows, leeches and crayfish as food sources.
Anglers say the walleye is great to eat. So as a result, it is
fished both commercially and recreationally for food. Most
anglers go fishing for the walleye at nighttime because that’s
when the walleye likes to fed. They use lures that look like
small fish and live minnows as bait. Most commercial fisheries
for this fish are found in Canada.
Because of the popularity of fishing for walleyes, most fishing
for them is regulated so that they are not overfished. They also
regulate quotas and length limits for anglers to make sure that
the walleye’s are not over exploited. In Ontario many lakes have
The walleyes eyesight makes feeding for them not only at night
or dawn and dusk but on cloudy and overcast days with choppy
water going on. Similar to this, if the water is dark and its
daylight they will feed as well. This certainly gives them an
advantage over their prey. In the spawning season, the walleye
is usually found in shallower water, usually around six feet
deep. But they like to stay in murky water there.