Walleye is among the most fished species in Quebec, for its abundance and especially for its flesh that is delicious and tender. Fishing for walleye is done especially in the evening, at night and at dawn. This fish is very active in turbulent water throughout the day. Walleye fishing is done with various lures, but as this fish is fond of insects that surface at dusk, it is also possible to capture it with fly fishing.
The walleye is a great perch species measuring between 30 to 50 cm ( 0.5 to 1.5 kg) . It has an elongated body and is slightly compressed laterally. Its colour varies greatly depending on its habitat. It will be lighter shades in turbid water, but have more vivid shades in clear water. Its body is olive brown or yellow and it has small golden spots on the rear part of its body. We also notice tiny spots in even rows, found on the second dorsal fin and its tail, and white spots on the tip of the lower lobe of the caudal fin. Other features that characterize the walleye are its big eyes covered with a pigment that reflect light, which is why its eyes are silver. However, because of this they are obliged to avoid bright lights, but in contrast have excellent night vision. The walleye also has many sharp teeth and smooth cheeks that are almost without scales. We can differentiate the walleye from other fish by its two dorsal fins which are distinct; the first thorny (approximately 12-16 spines) and the second with soft rays. It also has two spines on the anal fin and a short, sharp spine at the end of the cap. The coloration from gray to blue is a subspecies of walleye, which is, apparently, now extinct.
Knowing the habitat, the diet and its reproduction cycle can improve your walleye fishing experience.
The walleye tolerates ambient conditions; it is a species that lives in fresh water, between 13-21 degrees Celsius. It is present in large lakes and rivers, but it is also found in smaller lakes, reservoirs, and medium current rivers. We can find it in great abundance especially in large shallow and turbid lakes (less than 15 meters). The walleye adapts to its habitat much better than the black gold. It is more in abundance and widespread than the latter.
The walleye is a species that does not have a very selective diet.
It has a rather gregarious behavior. It feeds mainly on fish and feeds on whatever it may find around it. However, it prefers yellow perch and sunfish. It will also eat insects, slugs, leeches, crayfish, salamanders, small snakes, frogs and small mammals. It is also possible that it will feed on its own kind (cannibalism). The walleye is a voracious fish; it can ingest a good fraction of its own size. In turbid waters, walleye will feed all day, but in clear water, due to its eyes high sensitivity to light, will feed at sunrise and sunset in shallow waters. In shallow lakes, the optimal transparency of the water would be about 1 to 2 meters Secchi Disk, allowing the fish to feed all day.
Walleye reproduction habits:
This fish reproduces primarily in the spring in shallow waters, riverbeds, and at the foot of falls and even the banks of lakes exposed to wind, especially in shallow, oxygenated water. At times, it may reproduce again in summer, going from the beginning of April until the end of June. The first encounter of reproduction occurs between three and eight years old depending on the sex and habitat of the fish. The male walleye will reach sexual maturity at the age of two, or up to four years old. It can attain up to 280 mm in length. The female, larger than the male can reach between 356 mm and 432 between the ages of three to six. In the St. Lawrence River, maturity varies from two years of age for males and five years for females. The growth of the walleye in Quebec can be either fast or slow. Some populations in the south of the province will have a high growth before sexual maturity, at least 85 mm per year, while the slower population growth, is further north, with less than 85 mm per year. The walleye do not nest. Spawning takes place at night in groups of one or two females and two to six males. After laying eggs, the females leave the spawning site and are followed later by the males. The eggs of 1, 5 to 2,0 mm in diameter are released at random. They fall to the bottom of the water. Depending on the size of the female, their number varies from 50 000 300 000. The eggs hatch after 12 to 18 days. The walleye, especially the females, are generally loyal to their spawning grounds.
The conservation of this species and walleye fishing must be protected.
Several studies have been conducted with the Wildlife Area Community Gouin Reservoir, whose mission is to improve the quality of fishing and learn about the various fish species living in the Gouin reservoir. A large fishing experiment was conducted in Quebec in 2002 and the results led the Corporation to implement various measures to protect this resource. The closure of walleye spawning sites after the official opening of the fishing season and an increase in monitoring by assistants of the protection of wildlife are needed for the protection of the walleye. This is needed to allow future sportsmen’s and new generations to continue to practice and experience the sport of fishing. With that being said, happy fishing to all !