Walleye - Stizostedion vitreum


fish: walleye
Duane Raver/USFWS
Click on picture to enlarge

Oklahoma Distribution – Distribution originated from introductions made during the early 1950s in Canton and Tenkiller lakes. Since that time, adult walleye have been trapped (primarily from Canton Lake), their eggs taken by hand stripping, fertilized and hatched in state fish hatcheries. Most major lakes in Oklahoma have been stocked. Best populations are in the western half of the state.

Description - Oklahoma is fortunate to have these unique species of the perch family in many of its lakes.  To identify them, first look at the spiny dorsal fin.  The walleye will have no spots on this fin; the sauger will have distinct spots; and the hybrid of the tow species, the saugeye, will have spots and bars in the webbing of its spiny dorsal fin.  The color of the fish and the presence or absence of the cheek scales may also help identify the difference.  (Click on picture to enlarge)

Habitat – Walleye tend to congregate near the bottom on sand bars or near ledges and drop-offs.

Natural Food Sources – Insects, larvae, nightcrawlers, crayfish, snails and small fish.

Spawning – Walleye spawn in early March when water temperatures reach 45 to 50 degrees F. Some 25,000 to 50,000 eggs per pound of body weight are produced each year by a single female. Fertilization occurs when eggs from the female and milt from the male are released simultaneously. Eggs fall between crevices in rock "rip-rap" along dams.

Facts – Although walleye are not easy to catch, they are definitely worth the effort. Walleye filet is considered by gourmets to be among the best table fare. Because of the peculiar light-gathering structure of their eyes, walleye seek deep water during the day to avoid the bright sun, feeding mostly at night.