Discover Nature: Walleye

Feb 3, 2017

In the waning weeks of winter, one of North America’s most important game fishes begins to get active in Missouri. This week on Discover Nature, walleye are on the move.

Walleye start moving to shoals to spawn from now through April in Missouri. Watch for their highly reflective eyes as they cruise shallow waters at night.
Credit Missouri Department of Conservation

These slender, yellowish or olive-brown fish have large mouths with prominent teeth, and especially reflective eyes.

Residing in large streams and reservoirs throughout the state, these nocturnal fish feed in shallow water at night, and retreat to deeper pools during the day.

One of the first fish to spawn in spring, walleye move onto gravel shoals, rocky points, or along the rocky face of dams to begin their reproductive process. Here, they will deposit eggs among the rocks, and leave them to develop without any parental care.

Fry eat small crustaceans and insects, and, in turn, are predated upon by many larger fish. Those that survive may grow to more than two feet in length, often becoming the “big fish” of their waters.

Watch for these prized game fish as their spawning activity picks up from now through April in Missouri.

Learn more about walleye with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide.

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.