Pickerel (Walleye)

Ontario is walleye country. Anglers can find these prized game fish province-wide, from the Great Lakes to shallow cottage-country reservoirs, from deep, powerful rivers to the loneliest waters of the Canadian Shield. And wherever they are, there's a great shore lunch just waiting to be had.

Walleye are most active during spring and fall. It's best to fish for them at night, on overcast, windy days, or in stained water, as the walleye's eyes are specialized to help the fish feed in low-light conditions. Many anglers catch walleye by trolling after dark with crankbaits along weedlines, rocky points, and over sunken reefs. Some of the largest walleye are caught this way during evenings of a full moon.

During the day, walleye can often be found in deeper water over rocks and in weedy cover. Then, one of the easiest and most effective tactics is to drift and jig just off bottom over likely cover until you locate a school. Some anglers prefer to troll using spinners, spoons, and deep-running crankbaits. Others specialize in the delicate presentations of minnows, night crawlers, crayfish, or leeches.

Walleye are a schooling fish, so it's a good idea to throw out a marker once the first fish is caught. Once located, casting to the school can be quite productive.

Walleye facts

  • Ontario record: 22.25 lbs (10.1 kg).
  • Average size: Between 1.5 and 3 lbs (.68 to 1.36 kg). It is, though, common to catch walleye topping 10 lbs (4.54 kg) in Ontario.
  • Temperature and habitat: Prefers stained waters in the 60 to 70°F (15.5 to 21°C) range, usually on hard, rocky bottoms, but also frequents weedbeds in shallow, fertile lakes.
  • Biology: Spawns after ice-out in rocky rivers and over wind-swept, rubble-strewn shoals and shorelines. Walleye are prolific and scatter eggs randomly.