HookedinFishing » Freshwater Fish » Walleye

Walleye Species Breakdown

By: Nick and FishingwithNat Updated: August 27, 2022

Scientific Name: Sander vitreus
Also Known As: yellow pike and yellow pickerel

Walleye are a member of the perch family and one of the most fun freshwater species to fish for. Walleye are omnivores that eat insects, snails, crayfish, smaller fish, fish eggs, and zooplankton.

How to Identify a Walleye

You can identify a walleye by their olive coloring that starts at their dorsal fins and gradients down to a more gold color on their sides. This coloring is broken up by 5 dark bars along their sides. Their belly is white.

Walleye have large mouths and sharp teeth.

walleye being held by angler with bait still in it's mouth

Walleye Size

Walleye can grow up to 42 inches long and weigh up to 29 lbs 12oz. They are more commonly found closer to 20 – 30 inches long and weight 10 – 20 lbs.

Females tend to grow larger than males.

Walleye Size Chart – Length to Weight Conversion

15″0.7 lbs
17″2 lbs
19″2.5 lbs
21″3.8 lbs
23″4.2 lbs
25″6.1 lbs
27″8.3 lbs
29″11..1 lbs
31″12 lbs
33″14.4 lbs
35″18.3 lbs

View World & State Walleye Records

Where Walleye Are Found

Walleye are native to Canada, the Great Lakes, Mississippi River basin, and Missouri River basin. They have been introduced throughout the northeastern and western parts of the United States.

They like cooler water and can be found in deeper lakes, rivers, and reservoirs.

Walleye are mostly nocturnal, so during the day are often found hiding under the cover of drift wood and aquatic plants. At night, they move up to shallower water in search of food.

Lifespan of a Walleye

Walleye on average live for about 10 years but can live up to 25 years old. Females live longer than males, about 5 years longer on average.

You can tell the general age of walleye by referring to the table below.

Walleye Age Chart

1 Year Old5 – 8 inches
2 Years Old8 – 12 inches
3 Years Old12 – 15 inches
4 Years Old15 – 18 inches
5 Years Old18 – 20 inches
6 Years Old20 – 23 inches
7 Years Old23 – 25 inches
8 Years Old25 – 27 inches
9 Years Old27 – 30 inches
10 Years Old30 – 33 inches

Fishing For Walleye

Walleye being held out of water

Are walleye hard to catch?

Walleye are partially nocturnal so they can be difficult to catch during the day. Fishing during dusk or dawn will make catching walleye much easier.

What is the best depth for catching walleye?

The best depth for targeting walleye is 10 – 20 feet deep. In darker conditions they can be found a bit shallower in the 5 – 10ft range.

What type of bait is for walleye?

My favorite bait when fishing for walleye is jig paired with a curly tail grub or paddle tail swimbait.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What size walleye is best to keep?

The best size walleye to keep for eating is 15 – 18 inches long.

What do walleye eat?

Walleye primarily eat small bait fish, insects, and crayfish.

Are walleye good eating?

Many anglers enjoy eating walleye. They have a mild fishy taste and offer a lot of meat for their size.

Do walleye fish bite humans?

Walleye have sharp teeth and can cut humans. When holding them you should avoid putting your fingers in their mouth and use a fish gripper instead.

Is walleye a pike?

Walleye are members of the perch family and are not the same as pike.

Are walleye top or bottom feeders?

Walleye primarily feed along the bottom but will strike at the surface if the right meal tempts them.

What fish will eat a walleye?

Adult walleye don’t have any predators in their waters. Younger walleye can be killed by bass, perch, musky, or even catfish.