Department of Environmental Conservation

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Watchable Wildlife: Walleye

An underwater photo of a walleye
Walleye Sander vitreus Photo: USDA Forest Service

Did You Know?

  • Their large eyes shine like a cat's when reflected in light. Like cats, walleyes can see and hunt well in low-light conditions.
  • Walleye are the largest North American fish species in the perch family and can live up to 20 years.
  • They have thousands of taste buds in their lips and very sharp teeth that slant back to catch, hold and tear their prey.
  • Oneida Lake is one of the nation's premier walleye fishing destinations.
Watchable Wildlife binoculars icon

What to Watch for:


Mature walleye range from 1-2 feet in length and weigh 1-5 lbs on average. The current state record fish weighed in at 16 lbs! Females are generally larger than males.


Olive green in color with gold flecks, darker green on the back and white on the belly. Walleye have a forward spiny dorsal fin that is characterized by a black blotch at the rear and a soft dorsal fin toward the tail of the fish. The lower lobe of the tail fin has a distinctive white tip.

Where to Watch:

They congregate over rocky shoals and run streams or rivers to spawn in the springtime. Walleye prefer deep water in large lakes, streams, and rivers since their eyes are sensitive to light, but will inhabit shallower waters at night.

When to Watch:

Best time is usually in the spring during the spawning season when they are in shallower waters. At night, shine a flashlight in the water to see their reflective eyes.

More Information about Walleye:

The Best Places to See Walleye:

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