Ask a Minnesotan to name a favorite fish and the most likely answer is walleye. Its delicious white fillets and elusive nature lead anglers to harvest 3.5 million walleyes annually in Minnesota. In the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Pool 2 (the area between the dams at St. Paul and Hastings) is recognized as a world-class year-round catch-and-release fishery for walleye and sauger – thanks in large part to the federal Clean Water Act and state and local efforts to clean up the river.
The walleye’s popularity has helped its populations thrive and its range expand. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources protects critical habitat, sets fishing limits, and conducts an extensive stocking program statewide.
Walleye eat primarily small fish, capturing them with sharp, backward curved canine teeth. Never one to pass up a meal, it also eats insects, crayfish, leeches and other small prey. Named for its glassy eye, the eye’s reflective layer (tapetum lucidum) allows it to see well in low-light conditions. As a result, walleye are more active at dawn, dusk, night, and other reduced light conditions such as waves and cloudy skies.
Key ID Features: Walleye have an olive-green back and golden sides mottled throughout in brown or black. Body color varies depending on where the fish swims. Definitive features are a prominent white spot on the lower tail fin and a dark spot at the base of the dorsal fin. An average walleye reaches 14-17 inches in length.
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Last updated: November 22, 2019