SCIENTIFIC NAME: Stizostedion vitreum
CHARACTERISTICS: The walleye is similar in appearance to the sauger but can be distinguished by the large black spot at the posterior base of the walleye’s spiny dorsal fin and by the white tip on the lower lobe of the caudal fin. Walleye have a large horizontal mouth with large pointed teeth. The body color is olive to brassy yellow with extensive mottling along the sides and a white or light cream venter. The six to seven saddles on the back are diffuse and ill-defined. The soft dorsal fin and caudal fin rays are pigmented, producing a somewhat mottled yet banded pattern. Spots on the spiny dorsal fin are small with no definite pattern or banding. Like the sauger, the walleye has a characteristic lining behind the retina that makes the eye look silver.
ADULT SIZE: 12 to 31 in (300 to 787 mm). The state angling record (10 lb, 14 oz) was caught in Weiss Reservoir on the Coosa River in 1980.
DISTRIBUTION: The walleye is widespread, naturally and from introductions, from the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories south to the lower Mississippi River basin and from the Atlantic Coast west to Nevada and Oregon. We have records of walleye throughout the Mobile basin both above and below the Fall Line. This species also occurs in the Tennessee River drainage as catches are commonly reported by fishermen, but our recent sampling has failed to capture walleye there.
HABITAT AND BIOLOGY: Life history information is summarized from Becker (1993). The walleye is associated with large rivers and stream tributaries and impoundments, frequently preferring clear, quiet backwaters over sand, gravel, mud, rubble, and silt. During spawning individuals move to shoal areas or trailwaters over riprap downstream of dams. Spawning occurs from March through May with eggs broadcast in open water over suitable spawning substrate. Inlet streams to impoundments are known spawning grounds in those habitats. A life span of seven years is common with a few individuals surviving to be 10 to 12 years of age. Young walleye feed on microcrustaceans and insect larvae, while larger individuals prey on fish, including white suckers, quillbacks, darters, and minnows. Feeding usually occurs at night when individuals migrate from deeper areas to shallow shoals.
ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: Mitchill described walleye in 1818.
Stizostedion means interpreted by Rafinesque (1820) as Greek for pungent throat, referring to the large canine teeth lining the jaws and roof of the mouth.
Vitreum mean glassy, referring to the large, silvery eye.
The copyrighted information above is from Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile Basin.
ADDITIONAL COMMON NAMES: In the southeast, anglers also call walleye: walleyed pike, pickerel, pike, jack, jackfish, jack salmon, pike perch, yellow pike, blue pike, white eye, and glass eye, according to Cloutman and Olmstead in Fisheries (Vol. 8, No. 2).
Note: In Alabama, it is illegal to stock or move a walleye or any fish, mussel, snail or crayfish to any public water without a permit.
Support providing opportunities for kids to fish, improving aquatic habitat, and bringing back rare Alabama fish - click here