Fish Friday with… the Walleye

A map of the range of the Walleye in Illinois, with dots and squares indicating where it lives or has lived.

Walleye (Stizostedion vitreum)

The Walleye can reach 36 inches in length. As you might guess, a yard-long sport fish offers sport indeed. The range map above, courtesy of the Atlas of Illinois Fishes, reveals that anglers across the state often can find Walleye within a short-to-moderate drive. Prefer a road trip? You’re in luck. Stizostedion vitreum swims in a large part of the northern U.S. and Canada. If you’re going to make the long haul to the Northwest Territories, don’t forget you want reliable bait. As for reproduction, this species goes in for what scientists call broadcast spawning. That is, a fish just lays the eggs and moves on.

Findlay, Illinois, celebrates its Walleye Festival every July. A fish fry of the guest of honor is one of the event centerpieces. Attending next summer? Go ahead and share trivia from the Atlas: “Eyes look silvery and opaque because of the tapetum lucidum, a layer of light-gathering tissue that enables these fishes to be active in low light.”

An Atlas of Illinois Fishes: 150 Years of Change

Part nature guide and part natural history, An Atlas of Illinois Fishes is the authoritative resource on the topic. The 259 color photographs and 227 maps guide readers to up-to-date scientific information on Illinois’s 217 current and extirpated fish species.