Walleye

Introduction

Walleye is a freshwater perciform fish native the Northern United States and most of Canada. It is also commonly referred to as colored pike, pickeral (especially in Canada), yellow pike, or walleyed pike.

It gets it common name of "walleye" from the fact its eyes point outward, as if it were looking at the walls. Their eye's orientation gives fisherman an advantage in the dark due to certain eyeshine given off by the walleye in the dark, similiar to other night dwelling animals. It also allows them to see well in stained, rough, or breaking waters, thus providing an advantage over their prey, and also allows them to populate the deeper regions.

Walleye Art

Walleye Description

Typically olive and gold in color, with the dorsal side of it being olive, and grading on its flanks, a golden hue. The gold and olive pattern is seperated by darker saddles (5 of them), that extends to its upper sides. It is armed with a large mouth, and several sharp teeth. With the dorsal and anal fins being spinous, take care to get poked. Distinguished by the white colouration on the lower lob of the caudal fin, from its cousin the sauger where its caudal fin and two dorsals are marked with rows of black spots that are very distinctive.

Walleye Habitat

During the spring and fall Walleye can located near the shallower areas due spawning habits, where as during the summer you will find them in depths. Due to their sensitive eyesight in dark conditions, they prefer to dwell in holes, or drop-offs to escape the sunlight, and as such you'll find them move towards the shallows at night. They also prefer to hold near dams, just outside the main current. They prefer packed sand, rocky bottoms, or gravel, but will uses submerged trees, or other structures, or even weed beds during the day.

Common Names

  • Walleyed Pike
  • Yellow Pike
  • Colored Pike
  • Pickerel

Classification

  • Animalia Kingdom
  • Chordata Phylum
  • Actinopterygii Class
  • Perciformes Order
  • Percidae Family
  • Sander Genus
  • S. vitreus Species

Weight and Length

Walley grow to about 31 inches in length (80cm), and weigh up to 20 pounds (9kg). The largest recorded size was 42 inches in length, and 25 pounds. Their growth rate partly depends upon where in their range they are, with southern populations often growing larger and faster. Female Walleyes tend to grow larger than their male counterpart. They can live for decades, with the maximum recorded age of 29 years. However where heavily fished, the common encounter will only be with ones less than 6 years old.

Eating Habits

Young Walleye can typically be found feeding on insect larvae and plankton until they are able to eat fish smaller than them, particularly minnows. They also have an appetite for yellow perch, since they share the same diets, and preferred locations. Walleye may love fish, but that doesn't mean they won't bite on artificial baits, leeches, or the always tasty night crawler.

Subspecies

Yellow Walleye

The Yellow Walleye is the primary remaining species of Walleye, and will be the one you are most likely to encounter on your fishing adventures.

Blue Walleye

The Blue Walleye has been considered extinct, despite recent random catches, if caught today, should be considered endangered, and released in hopes of repopulating.

Recommended Tackle

Fishing Rod

Spinning

Length
6.5 to 7 feet
Action
Medium

Casting

Length
7 feet
Action
Medium

Fly

Length
9 feet
Action
Medium

Fishing Line

Mono-filament

Size
.010"
Strength
6 Pound

Fluoro-carbon

Size
.011"
Strength
8 Pound

Braid

Size
.0085"
Strength
15 Pound

Natural Baits & Hooks

Night Crawlers

Hook Size (Nose Hooked)
6
Hook Size (Threaded)
2
Hook Type
Short-shank Baitholder
Technique
Use a slip-sinker rig, inflate the worm to give it buoyancy, and keep it out of the mud, weeds. If still-fishing, hook the worm in the center, also works well with a bobber. If near structure, try Texas Rigging.

Minnows

Hook Size
4
Hook Type
Circle
Technique
For live or dead minnows, hook them through the lips, eyes, or mouth and out the gill if casting and retrieving. If still fishing with live minnows, try hooking them under the dorsal fin, or in the back by the tail.

Leeches

Hook Size
6
Hook Type
Octopus
Technique
Hook right below the sucker, and use a slip bobber, or work them on the bottom with a Carolina Rig, or splitshot.

Jigs

General

Color
For clear to stained water try black, brown, white, yellow, pink and red. For dark water try using fluorescent chartreuse, green, orange, or glow. Always make sure to try various colors to find the best choice for the day.
Weights
1/16th to 1/2 ounce. As a general rule, use 1/8 ounce of weight for every 10 feet of water depth.
Shank Length
Use short shanks for live minnows, and long shank for soft plastic rigging.
Hook Type
Thin wire (Aberdeen) is best for around cribs, brush piles, as they bend and can be pulled free when snagged, and work best for fish with soft mouths. Strong wire (O’Shaughnessy) is better around rocky and weedy areas, where bass and pike might lurk.

Soft Bait Techniques

Imitating a Crawfish
Using a split tailed grub, or tube to hop along the bottom in short snaps can replicate the action of crawfish.
Imitating a Leech
Use a reaper flat tail retrieved through the water.
Imitating a Baitfish
Paddle Tail Minnows mimics a baitfish when retrieved.

Live Bait Techniques

Preferred Jig
Floating
Technique
Always hook the bait through the head or snout, regardless of whether it is minnows, worms, or leeches. When jigged slowly, is a very enticing presentation, especially when the water is colder, and the walleye are more reluctant to chase moving lures. There are even Jigs designed specifically for live bait, which include wobble, swimming, round head, propeller, weedless, and floating. If using live minnows, try a short shank round and floating head, and stinger hook. Floating jigs work best when rigged with simple split shot, bottom bouncer, or even sliding sinker, and are excellent to keep the bait just off the bottom on lakes or rivers.

Hard Baits

Crankbaits

Length
1.75 to 3.25 inches
Hook Type
Treble
Hook Size
#5
Technique
Use a three way swivel to make a bottom bouncing rig with a sinker, and a floating style crankbait. This will help keep your crankbait out of the weeds and mud, and at a proper depth to attract walleye bites.

Spinner

Hook Type
Treble
Hook Size
8
Technique
Use a bottom bouncer to try various depths, and retrieval rates for optimal results. As a starting place, during the warmer months try a faster retrieve for reaction strikes, and a slower retrieve during the colder months.

Spoons

Length
2.25 to 3.75 inches
Width
.5 to .75 inches
Hook Type
Treble
Hook Size
6
Technique
Try a Dipsey Diver to assist with diving down at a preset angle, which can either be below the boat, or off either side at an angle. You can also use a 3 way spinner, and instead of rigging a sinker, rig a deep diving crankbait to bring the spoon to the desired depth.