Walleye

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Walleye is also known as yellow barracuda or yellow barracuda .

walleye 1

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The Walleye is a ray-finned fish native to freshwater bodies of many states in the Midwestern United States and many parts of Canada. It is a popular game fish for anglers looking for a fun fight and a good meal. Its popularity in recreational fishing has prompted its introduction to rivers and lakes in the United States, sometimes with negative ecological impacts. As a population adapts to a particular habitat, the local ecosystem may look and behave slightly differently.

3 Unbelievable Facts!

  • State Fish : This species is the official state fish of Vermont, South Dakota, Minnesota and several Canadian provinces.
  • Night Vision : Walleyes are nocturnal animals and their unique eye structure gives them great vision even in dark water.
  • Menu Item : Long sought after by fishermen, walleye is a growing commercial commodity and is becoming a feature on many restaurant menus.

taxonomic name

Walleye - Catch and Release.
Walleye is a type of perch with the scientific name Sander vitreus .

©wwwarjag/Shutterstock.com

Also known as the yellow walleye or yellow barracuda, the walleye is sometimes marked as the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the extinct subspecies of the blue walleye. It is also simply called pike in Canada, although the walleye is actually a perch, unrelated to the various species officially classified as pike.

The species' scientific name is Sander vitreus . The word vitreus is derived from the Latin word meaning glassy, referring to the walleye's distinctive large, reflective eyes. This species belongs to the taxonomic class Actinopterygii , order Perciformes , family Percidae and subfamily Luciopercinae .



There is currently only one known species of walleye, although there may be significant genetic differences between fish populations in different habitats. The blue walleye, also historically known as the blue pike, was considered a closely related species, but has since been reclassified as a directly related subspecies to the (yellow) walleye. During the 20th century, however, the native population of the blue-cornered impala declined and was declared extinct in 1983.

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appearance

The largest member of the bass family, walleyes can reach about 30 inches long and 20 pounds in adult size. While there is some dispute over the record, the largest walleye ever recorded was caught in 1959. The so-called Harper's walleye, named after the fisherman who caught it, is reported to be more than 40 inches long and weigh 25 pounds.

Happy fisherman with walleye
Walleyes have lean, flexible bodies that make them interesting fighters for anglers.

© FedBul/Shutterstock.com

These relatively large freshwater fish have lean, flexible bodies that make them interesting fighters for anglers. Most of their bodies are dark green to golden in color, with at least five distinct black stripes on their backs. Their bellies are usually white or light in color. They have two fins on top of their bodies, including a soft fin and another spiny fin. They also have sharp teeth in their mouths, which make removing bait dangerous.

Both the common and scientific names of leukoplakia come from their distinctive eyes, which have a shiny appearance and unusual outward protrusion. These characteristics give this fish remarkable vision compared to many other aquatic species, especially during darker times of the day. This adaptation gives them a significant advantage when hunting prey at dusk, night and dawn.

Distribution, Population and Habitat

The Walleye is a freshwater fish whose ideal habitat is large, shallow lakes and rivers with some current or turbidity. Walleye can also inhabit smaller pools, backwaters, and estuaries, and even brackish water with some salinity.

Its native range includes the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and Mississippi River basins. The fish is currently found as far north as the Canadian Arctic and in nearly every state in the continental United States. The expansion of their geographic distribution is largely due to intentional stocking as prey, although they have also been accidentally introduced into some ecosystems.

predator and prey

Walleye in the hands of an angler.
Walleyes eat bugs, fish, worms, leeches, small fish, mayflies, and crayfish, among other prey.

©ElvK/Shutterstock.com

predator

Humans are the primary predator of this species, and there is extensive recreational and commercial fishing throughout the year. Walleyes have a variety of potential predators, depending on their habitat, including largemouth bass, muskfish, osprey, eagles, and otters.

prey

Walleyes are flexible and relatively indiscriminate predators that eat everything from insects and fish to worms. They usually target smaller fish such as minnows and yellow perch, including juveniles of larger fish. Leeches, mayflies, and crayfish are among the many possible prey targets for these fish.

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Reproduction and Lifespan

At the end of winter, walleyes move toward tributaries or shallows in larger bodies of water. They usually move to shallow water for colony spawning after a period of vigorous pursuit and swimming in cycles. The female releases thousands of eggs, and the male immediately fertilizes them. Adults reach sexual maturity around age 3 or 4 and have a potential lifespan of more than 20 years.

The sticky eggs fall to the bottom and hatch for 12 to 30 days before hatching. After fertilization, the parents do not protect or care for their child in any way. Walleye babies emerge from their eggs as free-swimming embryos. They absorb the remaining yolk for about a week before going on to feed on larvae and plankton. Babies start preying on smaller fish at 1 to 2 months of age.

fishing and cooking

Walleye in the St. Lawrence River
Walleyes can be seen in the St. Lawrence River in their natural habitat, but they have been introduced throughout North America.

© RLS Photo/Shutterstock.com

Walleye is a very desirable fishing target for recreational anglers in the United States and Canada, which is why certain lakes and rivers are regularly stocked in many states. Since they are nocturnal, fishing usually occurs between dusk and dawn. Popular lures include spoons, spinners, and plugs. Live baits, including minnows and leeches, can also be very effective at luring these aggressive fish.

This species is considered a good food for freshwater species, so they are targeted for commercial activities and recreation. Adult fish provide a reasonable amount of usable meat, which is firm when cooked and has relatively few bones, a big plus for diners. The flavor of the meat is considered subtle, so it doesn't have a strong fishy smell and has a light sweetness.

As an increasingly popular menu item in North American restaurants, there are many ways to prepare and cook walleye to create a satisfying meal. Spices such as cumin, paprika, lemon pepper and basil are all possible choices to bring out the natural flavors of the fish. The meat should be separated from the body before cooking. Filet mignon can be breaded, pan-fried, grilled, poached, or even smoked.

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population

Due to its large distribution and habitat flexibility, it is not possible to estimate the total walleye population. A recent assessment of the species' largest single reservoir, Lake Erie, estimated the local population at more than 100 million. While they are currently listed as the least concern for conservation, experts believe climate change and the introduction of competing species could significantly reduce their numbers by the end of the century.

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Anglers should be prepared for nighttime operations, as these fish are nocturnal. If you don't know what your local walleye likes, it's a good idea to have a variety of baits, even some live bait. Baits that mimic small fish, such as spoons and stoppers, are usually preferred.

Walleye can be found in lakes, streams, and rivers in North America. They are native to the Great Lakes and many estuary bodies of water in the Mississippi River basin, but have also been introduced to freshwater bodies in nearly every state in the continental United States.

Walleye is growing in popularity as a menu item and has long been an ideal food target for recreational fishing. They have a relatively mild flavor, good texture, and are easy to slice without getting a lot of bones. All these factors give it a high dietary potential.

Although often referred to as pike, walleyes are actually a member of the perch family. They are members of the fin-finned fish family, and fin-finned fishes have a typical scalloped fin on their upper part.

In the wild, walleyes pose no real threat to humans, but they do have sharp teeth that make removing bait and fishing line from their mouths challenging.

Walleye is often described as slightly sweet and mild, with a firm, buttery texture. This makes it a good vehicle for spices that will greatly affect the overall flavor of a dish.

Walleyes are carnivores, which means they eat other animals.

Walleye belongs to the animal kingdom.

Walleye spawns.