Walleye have slender bodies and are fast swimmers. They have two separate dorsal fins, with spines on the first set, as well as on the anal fin. They are mottled in color, ranging from yellowish to greenish-brown with white bellies, and they have six to seven dark bands running vertically down their side. Walleye have large, marble-like eyes that help them feed in near darkness. These eyes also shine under a light at night. The jaws and roof of the mouth have sharp, prominent teeth.
Walleye are piscivorous, which means that they feed on other fishes, including other walleye. Yellow perch is a common prey, as are the young of nearly any other fish. They have sharp, needle-like teeth and are opportunistic feeders, eating insects, worms, and crustaceans when available.
When young, the walleye will eat crustaceans and various insects and insect larvae exclusively until their teeth and bodies are up to attacking the more difficult fish.
Walleye are native to North America from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachian Mountains, and from Canada to Texas. They have also been introduced to other states, but because of their inclination towards cooler waters they are less abundant in the South.
Walleye live mainly in large bodies of water, seldom found in lakes or streams smaller than 50 to 100 acres. They prefer cool water, usually less than 85 F, even living under the cover of ice in the winter. They are usually found at depths of over 10 feet, not only because of their preference for cold water but also to accommodate the specific needs of their eyes. Walleye can see very well in near dark conditions but are sensitive to bright light.
- In the Great Lakes fishing for walleye is being restricted not only to protect the species, but also to protect man from the excessive toxins the fish carry in them due to pollution.
- A subspecies of the walleye, the blue pike, was native to Lake Erie and Ontario, but has been extinct since 1965.