Female Walleye at Spawning Time
Female Walley at Spawning Time

Walleye show a noticeable size difference between males and females even after one growing season. This size difference, termed sexual dimorphism, becomes more noticeable as the fish becomes older. The female pictured above is probably carrying around 150,000 eggs. Older larger females can exceed 28” and may carry more than 200,000 eggs. Walleye can live 13 years or longer, but like most animals near the end of their life, their fertility rate diminishes greatly. When the egg is released from the female’s body there is a period of approximately 20-25 seconds when the soft spot on the egg surface can be penetrated by a sperm. The eggs take 8-15 days to mature and hatch with “normal” spring time water temperatures. This normally occurs in early April when water temps range from 42-55 degrees. The first form of food for walleye hatchlings is zooplankton. After they grow to 1” in length the young walleye will eat larger insects and newly hatched minnows. At 1 ½ “ the walleye eyes become sensitive to sunlight and the fish will live in deeper water. Mature fish will eat young pan fish and perch or nearly anything swimming in their deeper water habitat.