The walleye is a cool-water freshwater fish that is popular food and sport fishing target with anglers throughout their range. Walleye are known for their olive/gold coloration with five darker patches that extend to the upper portion of the fish. Their name comes from their eyes, which are capable of reflecting white light. This gives the fish impressive eyesight and allows the fish to see in dark or murky conditions. Their impressive eyesight makes them a tough and respected angling target, even though the average walleye is not renowned for their fighting qualities. They are mostly caught in low light conditions or when there is considerable chop on the water. The maximum size recorded is 107 cm (42 in) and 11.3 kg (25 lb), but the average fish caught by anglers is around 30-50 cm (12 – 20 in). Let’s find out where these fish live.
Where do walleye live?
Walleye can be found in many freshwater environments in Canada and the northern United States (especially parts of the Midwestern United States and the Northeastern United States). The traditional stronghold of this fish in the United States is South Dakota due to the many glacial lakes and Missouri River reservoirs. However, this species has also been introduced into many areas outside of its natural range and is now found as far west as Washington state, as far east as New England, and as far south as Texas. In fact, some reports suggest that California and Florida and the only states where walleye have not been introduced!
Did you know?
The walleye is a close relative of the Zander, which is found throughout western Eurasia. This fish is also a popular food and sports fishing target.
The walleye is the official state fish of South Dakota and anglers targeting this fish in this region contribute a significant amount to the state economy.