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What is a Walleyed Pike?

By J.L. Drede
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Walleyed pike, more commonly known as yellow walleye or just walleye, is a freshwater fish found in the northern United States and much of Canada. It typically grows to about 2.5 feet (75 cm) in length and usually weighs around 15 pounds (6.8 kg). It is olive or yellow in appearance with darker coloration on its sides and lighter shades on its underside.

The mouth of the fish is large and filled with sharp teeth. Those sharp teeth are used to hunt its prey, which can include catfish, frogs, snails crayfish and even small mammals if the opportunity presents itself. The walleyed pike formerly shared its habitat with the blue walleye, but that species is now thought to be extinct. It is believed to have either been the victim of overfishing.

The fish spawns every year, leaving large nests that can number in the tens of thousands. The large nests ensure that at least some of the eggs hatch even when others are eaten by other fish or destroyed by rough waters or poor weather. If the fish makes it to adulthood it can live upwards of 20 years, slowly growing throughout its entire life. The walleyed pike can thrive in a wide variety of water conditions, but most are found in lakes and other large bodies of water. It prefers shallow waters with cooler temperatures and slight turbidity. It is nocturnal and is most often seen during the early morning hours hunting for food.

Substantial populations of the fish can be found in the Great Lakes area and along the Allegheny Mountains. Walleye are incredibly popular sport fish and entire industries are supported by Walleyed pike fishermen looking for specialized lures, rods and other gear that can help them catch as many of the fish as possible.

The popularity of the walleyed pike has led it to be farmed extensively throughout the United States. These farms don't farm the fish for food though, instead they create large populations that are then taken and used to fill lakes for game fishing. Such programs have artificially extended the natural habitat of the fish. Not native to the western states of America, it is now found in most of the western part of the country except California. While the fish can be bought in stores for consumption, most who eat the fish caught it themselves. Once caught it can be prepared in a number of ways. Recipes for broiled, baked and pan-friend walleye are common.

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