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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Walleye - Sander vitreus

Non-native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:


 

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General Description
There are conflicting ideas among experts as to whether the walleye is native to Montana or not. Regardless, it is one of the most important sport fishes in Montana's eastern drainage and elsewhere in the U.S. and in Canada, where the walleye is a much sought-after commercial fish as well. Its flesh is of the highest quality. In recent years, some sportsmen's groups in Montana have aggressively pursued the increased planting of walleye and promoted walleye fishing tournaments. Sometimes walleye hybridize with sauger, producing sterile saugeye. Adult walleye largely eat fish and for the most part are lake and reservoir dwellers. Walleye are so named because of their large, reflective eyes which are very light-sensitive. They are very active at night.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Jaws and roof of mouth have large canine teeth. Anal fin has 2 spines and 11 to 14 (usually 12 or 13) soft rays. Body often has a golden hue.

Species Range
Montana Range

Non-native
 


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 4119

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

 

(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)



Migration
Usually some spawning migration upstream, or to suitable rocky areas in lakes. Commonly moves into tributary streams.

Habitat
Primarily found in larger lakes and reservoirs, to a lesser extent in rivers. Spawns over gravelly riffles and rocky areas in shallow water.

Food Habits
Adults feed heavily on small fish when available. All age groups feed on various aquatic invertebrates.

Ecology
Good walleye spawning sites are limited in Ft. Peck reservoir. Large population in Big Dry Arm of reservoir. Largely dependent on Big Dry Creek for successful spawning.

Reproductive Characteristics
Spawns April - early May with peak around late April at water temperatures from 40 - 50 degrees F. Sexually mature in 2-4 years. Spawn in small groups and eggs are broadcast over bottom Incubation requires 12-18 days.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Bellgraph, B.J. 2006. Competition potential between Sauger and Walleye in non-native sympatry: historical trends and resource overlap in the middle Missouri River, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 83 p.
    • Binkley, K.M. 1996. Habitat selection of adult walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) in Holter Reservoir, Missouri River. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 119 p.
    • Eng, R.L. and R.J. Mackie. 1996. Supplemental wildlife data collection: McDonald Gold Project.
    • Guzevich, J.W. 1993. The relationship of physical habitat to the distribution of northern pike and walleye in two Montana prairie streams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 94 p.
    • Knight, D.E. 1982. Accumulation of dietary methylmercury by Walleye and White Crappie in the Tongue River Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 103 p.
    • Mullins, M.S. 1991. Biology and predator use of cisco (Coregonus artedi) in Fort Peck Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 68 p.
    • Olson, N. W. 2004. Interactions among hybrid Striped Bass, White Bass, and Walleye in Harlan County Reservoir. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 58 p.
    • Penkal, R.F. 1977. Black bass populations of the Tongue River Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 111 p.
    • Pravecek, J.J. 1995. Effect of diet on body composition and physical ability of intensively cultured Walleye fingerlings. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 67 p.
    • Riggs, V.L. 1978. Age and growth of Walleye and Sauger of the Tongue River Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 53 p.
    • Spinelli, J.P. 2010. Spatial and temporal entrainment of fish from Hauser Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 107 p.
    • Spoon, R.L. 1985. Reproductive biology of Brown and Rainbow Trout below Hauser Dam, Missouri River, with reference to proposed hydroelectric peaking. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 144 p.
    • Stash, S.W. 2001. Distribution, relative abundance, and habitat associations of Milk River fishes related to irrigation diversion dams. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 82 p.
    • Stevenson, H.R. 1975. The trout fishery of the Bighorn River below Yellowtail Dam, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 67 p.
    • Stringer, A.L. 2018. Status of Northern Pearl Dace and chrosomid dace in prairie streams of Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 150 p.
    • Trenka, R.J. 2000. Community structure and habitat associations of fishes of the lower Tongue and Powder Rivers. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 85 p.
    • Venditti, D.A. 1994. Diet overlap and habitat utilization of Rainbow Trout and juvenile Walleye in Cooney Reservoir, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 90 p.
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Citation for data on this website:
Walleye — Sander vitreus.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from