Walleye and Saugeye  

 

Walleye and saugeye are not native to the Sooner State. Like stripers and hybrids, they were introduced and created in hatcheries, respectively, to fill newly-created niches in reservoirs.

Walleye were first stocked in 1950 in lakes Tenkiller and Canton. Saugeye, which are produced by crossing walleye with native sauger, are a more recent addition to state waters. Both species are regarded as some of the best-eating fish in freshwater.

These golden-brown fish have sensitive eyes which allow them to feed well in very turbid water and at night. They usually can be found close to the bottom and often near deep underwater structure like drop-offs, humps and points.

Biologist’s Tips

In March and April, walleye move up onto rocky substrate to spawn. In many lakes, the preferred spawning habitat is rip-rap along dams and bridges. Jigs are excellent bait choices. Once spawning is complete, fish move to deeper water in main-lake areas. Trolling with deep-diving crankbaits along shoreline drop-offs is a good method for locating fish. Once one is caught, work the area thoroughly with crankbaits, jigs or jig-and-minnow combinations. Tailwater fishing also can be productive, especially during periods of heavy flow.

Other tips to keep in mind when walleye and saugeye fishing include:

• Avid walleye anglers should check out Lake Waurika. Using stick baits and jig and grub combinations along the rip-rap of the dam is very productive in late February and March. Walleye up to nine pounds have shown up in recent electrofishing surveys.

• Try fishing for walleye from the rip-rap at Lake Hefner during the months of March and November. These are the most productive times for walleye anglers in this lake.

• Legal-sized saugeye (>18”) are often caught during the winter at Lake Thunderbird. The best time is from dusk until about two hours after sunset. Try using a shallow-running minnow bait retrieved very slowly.

• Saugeye have rejuvenated fishing at lakes Ft. Cobb, Tom Steed, and Lawtonka - all historically prime walleye waters. Recent netting samples confirmed that saugeye numbers now rival peak walleye abundances in the “heydays” at each of these lakes.

• Anglers desiring to catch both striped bass and saugeye in the same lake should plan a visit to lakes Carl Blackwell and Sooner. Both lakes have abundant populations of both species and high percentages of large fish.

Walleye and Saugeye in Oklahoma