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Walleye

Stizostedion lucioperca

Walleye (Sander vitreus, formerly Stizostedion vitreum) is a freshwater perciform fish native to most of Canada and to the northern United States. It is a North American close relative of the European pikeperch. The walleye is sometimes also called the yellow walleye to distinguish it from the blue walleye, which is an extinct subspecies formerly found in the southern Great Lakes.

In some parts of its range, the walleye is known as the colored pike, yellow pike or pickerel (esp. in English-speaking Canada), although the fish is not related to other species of pikes which are members of the family Esocidae.

Genetically, walleyes show a fair amount of variation across watersheds. In general, fish within a watershed are quite similar and are genetically distinct from those of nearby watersheds. The species has been artificially propagated for over a century and has been planted on top of existing populations or introduced into waters naturally devoid of the species, sometimes reducing the overall genetic distinctiveness of populations.

Walleyes grow to about 80 cm in length, and weigh up to about 9 kg. The maximum recorded size for the fish is 107 cm in length and 11,3 kilograms in weight. The growth rate depends partly on where in their range they occur, with southern populations often growing faster and larger. In general, females grow larger than males. Walleyes may live for decades; the maximum recorded age is 29 years. In heavily fished populations, however, few walleye older than five or six years of age are encountered. In North America, where they are heavily prized, their typical size when caught is on the order of 30 to 50 cm, substantially below their potential size.