Maryland Fish Facts

Walleye
Walleye


Walleye
Stizostedion vitreum

Key Distinguishing Markings:
  • The walleye is named after its large opaque and almost blind-looking eye.
  • The large reflective surface of its eyes give the walleye a sight advantage over other fish, allowing them to find prey during the night.
  • The walleye has a dark green or olive-green back, light brownish yellow sides, and a white belly.
  • The back is crossed with five to twelve narrow dark bands.
  • The walleye has two dorsal fins, the first having a dark spot at the posterior base of the fin.
  • The lower lobe of the caudal fin and the anal fin are white at the tip.​

Distribution:
  • Walleye are common in most of Canada and the northern U.S., however they have been introduced throughout the United States as far south as Alabama.
  • In Maryland, good walleye populations are found in Deep Creek Lake, Youghiogheny River Reservoir, Jennings Randolph Lake, Savage River Reservoir, Potomac River, and Liberty Reservoir.
  • Efforts are currently underway to establish walleye populations in other Maryland reservoirs.​

Size:
  • The walleye is the largest member of the perch family, attaining lengths of more than 30 inches and weights of more than 10 pounds.​

Habitat:
  • Walleye prefer large, clear, cool waterbodies with gravel and sandy substrate.​

Spawning:
  • Walleye rely heavily on stony shoals for spawning.
  • Spawning occurs in the early spring, usually just after ice-out when water temperatures are between 38 - 50 F.
  • The female broadcasts her eggs, then two or more males release their milt to fertilize the eggs.
  • The eggs are very adhesive, sticking to the rocks and gravel on the shoal.
  • A single female can produce as many as 495,000 eggs.
  • Incubation is from five days to two weeks.
  • The young then leave the spawning areas and grow to be about five to six inches by fall.
  • Males reach sexual maturity in two to four years, while females reach sexual maturity in three to five years.​

Fishing Tips:
  • Fishing for walleye is most productive in the evening using minnow type lures or jigs fished near the bottom over rock piles or along the edges of weed beds.
  • Nightcrawlers and live minnows worked very slowly are also good producers.
  • Walleye are considered to be one of the best tasting freshwater fish.
  • For current recreational size and creel limits, see Maryland's updated regulation page.​

Fun Fact:
  • The Maryland State Record walleye was captured in Jennings Randolph Lake, Garrett County during 1998 and measured 34 inches and weighed 14 lbs. 4 oz.​

Family: Percidae (Perches)
Order: Perciformes (perch-likes
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)

For information concerning walleye and their management, please contact John Mullican at 301-898-5443.