Fish Identification – Walleye (aka Pickerel)

Walleye (aka Pickerel)

Characteristics: A walleye is quite a unique fish. It can easily be distinguished amongst all the other fish species that I will discuss in my articles. The walleye is an olive goldish colour but, its colour can become darker or more pale depending on its environment and what it eats. This fish have sharp jagged teeth and many of them so you want to be careful when handling them. They will range in size from 10-33 inches when they are fully grown and can weigh up to as much as 7 pounds. A very distinguishing characteristic of theirs is their opaque eyes, almost cat-like.

How to handle: As I said, these guys have teeth!!! So be very careful when handling them, especially if this is the first time you catch one. They are meat eaters and they are not afraid to use their teeth to protect themselves. When you are attempting to get your hook/bait/lure out of its mouth be sure to use pliers so as not to hurt yourself. You can usually grab them under the belly to hold them so that you can get your equipment out.

Where to find them: Walleye are an elusive fish and are sought out by many anglers. You can usually find them in large bodies of water that are turbid (cloudy looking water with many particles in it). They can be found both in shallow and in deep waters, but unlike largemouth bass they do not really hang out in the weeds. You can find them on rocky or muddy bottom lakes just cruising around in schools waiting to pounce on their prey.

How to catch them: There are a variety of ways to catch walleye but the most proven and effective way is to use a plastic grub with a weighted jig head. Once you locate a good area where walleye could be hiding you can simply cast your jig out into the water and just pull your rod tip up and down in short little bursts to try to lure these guys to bite. Try to make your rod movement sporadic so as to make your bait seem more natural. Walleye have cat-like eyes so they are able to see very well in the dark or in low light areas. Some anglers go out specifically in the middle of the night to target these bad boys. By jigging close to the bottom you can easily fool walleye into thinking that this is a leech or injured fish, a perfect little meal for them. The beauty of walleye is that once you land one you are likely to find others nearby as they tend to school together.  You can also get lucky with walleye by trolling a spoon at a low speed in deeper waters. These guys are like the panther of the underwater world and will stock their prey down. Jigs and trolling are definitely the most effective methods to land these guys but you can also use crank baits, usually deep diving ones, or even spinner-baits. Try fishing them when the water becomes a bit choppy as this breaks up the natural light that penetrates the water and fools walleyes into biting your bait. Walleye are a fish that can be fished both in summer and even in winter, so there is no excuse to try to get out there and catch some, plus they make for the best shore lunch you will ever have, just be sure to check your regulations on the size and amount you can keep.

Walleye aka Pickerel


Walleye 2