Sander vitreus

Walleye

FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

Walleye are a freshwater fish that lives in rivers, natural lakes and reservoirs. They prefer cooler water temperatures found in both clear and turbid, shallow or deep water. Walleye reproduce at about 3 to 4 years of age.  

Anglers often fish for walleye when it is windy because the wind stirs up the bottom of a lake and makes the water turbid. Walleye are great hunters of food in murky water because of their good eyesight, so anglers are often successful when the wind blows. Anglers call good fishing in the wind the walleye chop.

Scientific Name

Sander vitreus
Common Name
walleye
Kingdom

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Genus
Species

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Habitat

Characteristics
Habitat

Walleye live in rivers, natural lakes and reservoirs, in both clear and turbid, as well as both shallow and deep water. While they can be found cold, as well as cool water, they are not found in warm water. They are fairly generalist in habitat needs, which is why their range is so wide. 

River or Stream

A natural body of running water.

Lake

A considerable inland body of standing water.

River or Stream
Lake
Characteristic category

Food

Characteristics
Food

Newly hatched walleye eat small insects and later switch to leeches, snails, frogs, crayfish or even small mammals, but mainly eat other fish when they grow older and larger.

Characteristic category

Behavior

Characteristics
Behavior

Walleye are fairly common throughout the continental United States. They are native to the Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainage basins, but have been introduced to many other parts of the United States for sport fishing. Construction of reservoirs has allowed walleye to survive in many new places.

Characteristic category

Life Cycle

Characteristics
Life Span

The oldest reported age for a walleye is 29 years.   

Reproduction

Walleye reproduce at about 3 to 4 years of age. They usually spawn in the spring in shallow areas with lots of small gravel and rocks when the water temperature is around 45 degrees. Their eggs hatch after about 12 to 30 days, depending on water temperature.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Size & Shape

The largest walleye ever caught was 42 inches long. The oldest reported age for a walleye is 29 years.

Geography

Characteristics
Range

Walleye are very common throughout North America.

Launch Interactive Map