Blue Pike Comparison Page

Blue Walleye descriptive essays and comparison drawings 
between Blue and Yellow Pike.
 Courtesy of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife


Scientific name: Stizostedion vitreum glaucum                       
 Go Below for Yellow Pike comparison drawing and essay

DISTRIBUTION: In Ohio the blue walleye is (was) found in the greatest numbers in the eastern two thirds of Lake Erie.

IDENTIFICATION: Long, slender body, bluish-gray on back graduating into bluish silver on the sides and whitish on the belly. No brassy reflections on body. In every respect, except the size of the eye and the color of the body, the present species (blue walleye) has the same features as the yellow walleye. The blue walleye does have a much larger eye than the yellow. The blue walleye (also as is true with the yellow) has a dark blotch on the webbing between the three last dorsal spines, white tipped tail and anal fins, canine teeth and a cloudy eye.

ADULT WEIGHT: Uncertain. These fish from nine to 16 inches may weigh from one-half pound to one-and-one-half pounds. Some larger specimens, up to seven pounds, are questionable as they may be the result of crosses, hybridization or intergradation.

HABITAT: The clearer portion of Lake Erie, principally the eastern two-thirds of the lake is (was) preferred habitat for this subspecies. This fish is apparently intolerant to the tributary streams but during the fall and winter some "blues" did move into the Bass Islands area in the western portion of the lake.

SPAWNING SEASON: Very little is known concerning the spawning activity of the blue walleye in Lake Erie. But since this fish is a subspecies of the yellow walleye certain factors seem evident. The blue walleye is (was) a free spawner, scattering its eggs over sand and gravel but apparently in deeper and colder water than the yellow walleye. The blue walleye was obviously a prolific spawner as evidenced by the millions of pounds that were harvested from Lake Erie for many years.

COMMENTS: Apparently the blue walleye has been exterminated from Lake Erie. At least it seems highly improbable that this fine food fish will ever again make up an important part of the commercial harvest from the lake. Comparatively few blue walleyes were ever caught by sport fishermen so they were never considered important to the hook and line catch.








DISTRIBUTION: In early times this fish was abundant not only in Lake Erie but also in the Ohio, Muskingum, St. Mary's, Auglaize, Maumee, Mahoning, and Scioto rivers. With the construction of dams in these streams the walleye population decreased. Few walleyes are taken in these streams now. Limited numbers are caught in the Portage and Sandusky rivers. A stocking program by the Division of Wildlife over a number of years has produced fair to good populations in Berlin, Hoover, Mosquito, and Pymatuning reservoirs, among others. The population of walleyes in Lake Erie has had its ups and downs for many years; the western end of the lake (the Bass Island area), is prime walleye territory.

IDENTIFICATION: Long, slender body, yellow-olive with a bluish, brassy overcast on the sides and a milky-white belly. This fish has a large cloudy eye and a dark blotch on the webbing between the last three spines of the first dorsal fin. Its mouth is well-equipped with sharp teeth. The sauger looks similar but lacks the dark spot on the first dorsal fin. The blue walleye, which is almost extinct now, has the same body conformation, a larger eye and the coloring is bluish­gray on the sides with no brassy reflections and a white belly.

ADULT WEIGHT: Most yellow walleyes caught in Ohio weigh from one to three pounds. Largest specimens go to a maximum of about 18 pounds.

HABITAT: The yellow walleye prefers clear or only slightly turbid water. Its greatest abundance occurs over reefs and shoals of gravel, bedrock and other firm bottoms. It is seldom found in or near underwater vegetation.

SPAWNING SEASON: From the middle of April until the early part of May, when the water temperature is 40 to 52 degrees, most of the walleye spawning takes place. Walleyes are free spawners (do not build a nest) and after the fertilized eggs drop to the bottom, where they adhere to stones, sticks or vegetation, they hatch in about 10 days. Walleyes are prolific spawners laying from 100,000 to 400,000 eggs depending on the age of the fish.

FISHING METHODS: Trolling over the reefs from a large boat in company with a number of other fishermen has been the most popular way to fish for walleyes in Lake Erie. A weighted june bug spinner with a gob of nightcrawlers or a minnow is used successfully and some fishermen prefer trolling a deep‑running plug, with or without a nightcrawler on the hooks. In this type of fishing, three or more anglers can fish at the same time, increasing the chance of success. In recent years some knowledgeable fishing guides have been able to locate concentrations of walleyes where they drop anchor and fishermen then bait cast or spin cast for the fish using a variety of spinners, spoons and artificial plugs. This is a sporty way to catch walleyes. In inland lakes trolling from a small inboard or rowboat is also popular.

On several of these lakes, especially Mosquito and Pymatuning, still fishing from the causeways, using casting rods and baiting with minnows or nightcrawlers is effective and productive.

The yellow walleye is no great fighter, even when taken on sporty tackle, but what he lacks in this respect he more than makes up when served on the table. This is one of the finest eating of all freshwater fishes.  

The fish illustrations reprinted from The Fishes of Ohio, by Milton B. Trautman. Copyright  1957 by the 0hio State University Press.

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