By Keith Krych
During research on the internet I found a host of interesting facts about the
walleye. Here are just a few:
Walleye are very prolific; a large walleye female can lay up to 600,000 eggs per
year. Walleye can live up to 20 years, and grow slowly in the northerly most part of their range. Walleye, when young, live almost exclusively on insects, and some scientists believe that there are some walleye (local to certain areas) that will live almost exclusively on insects throughout their whole life. Most walleye do switch to an almost exclusive minnow diet by the time they are in their second summer.
Walleye can, and do travel extensively within their home waters. On large lakes,
such as Lake Erie, walleye will travel up to fifty miles in a single night. Normally though, they won't travel more than several miles, unless in search of their favored water temperature or food. Walleye are 'long distance' swimmers, and few 'prey' species can outdistance them.
It is believed that walleye can 'hear' a school of baitfish from quite a
distance away, using the hearing sense of the lateral line. Most often the
lateral line is uses for relatively 'close range' hearing work.
Walleye have their 'taste buds' in their lips - thousands of them!
It is believed that walleye can 'smell' their prey, quite a distance away,
using their keen sense of smell. Too, they use their lateral line to find such
schools of minnows.
Walleye have canine teeth, which are slanted back. They use these wickedly sharp teeth to catch/hold and tear their quarry.
Walleye are not especially cannibalistic, but will eat their 'own kind' only if
there is a low/limited food supply of other minnows/food.
Walleye, it's said, have a 'soft mouth'. This is false, in fact the membrane
around a walleye's mouth is hard and brittle. Because it is so hard and brittle,
fish hooks/lures will easily tear and break out of a walleye's mouth, giving one
the impression that the mouth is 'soft'.
Walleye often 'suspend' in water, especially over deep water. They do 'lay' on
the bottom, but not very often, except in rivers. Walleye don't very often go deeper than 60 feet. Most often they are found in water between 20 feet deep and 60 feet deep, depending on the water temperature, bait, oxygen content, and time of day/night/year.
The dorsal fin spines and teeth of the walleye are treacherously sharp. They
don't have any venom in them, but they often do have bacteria in the slime
covering these needle sharp 'jabbers'. It is not uncommon for an angler to 'take
a poke' from one of these wickedly sharp spines or teeth - and catch what is
slangily called 'fish poisoning'. This fish poisoning is a very painful
infection from the aforementioned bacteria entering the fisherperson's wound. If
this happens, you'll likely have to go to the doctor for a shot of antibiotics.
USE LONG NOSE PLIERS AND A FISH GLOVE WHEN HANDLING WALLEYE!
Walleye are a relatively clean fish, and have few diseases that people can
catch. The one most susceptible to people is the tapeworm. - always thoroughly
cook your walleye before eating it. Walleye will sometimes have some very sad looking tumors on their sides, most often, early in the summer season. These look terrible, and many fishermen think they are cancerous - most aren't. These are a likely virus growth, and are only on the outside of the fish's skin. They can be 'cut off', and the fish eaten. The only way that they can be proven as cancerous is by lab. testing. This growth doesn't affect the walleye's flesh. Even if they were cancerous - simply cut these grotesque and unsightly growths off, and the flesh under the skin will/should be OK to eat with no chance of the person eating the fish also catching the cancer - take no chances though - cook those fish - always!