Walleye Knowledge

Right now, I am in Idaho in the Nez Perce National Forest, and hopefully there is a trophy bull Elk in the bag.  This article is from the Iowa DNR website. Iowa has an excellent website with a lots of knowledge of the outdoors to share with readers and I highly recommend all the websites from any state for information on hunting, fishing, and conservation.  (http://www.iowadnr.gov/)  I found this article to be an interesting read on walleye, a member of the perch family.

Worldwide, about 25 genera and 125 species make up the family Percidae. Twenty of these species are native to Iowa lakes and streams, some of which have long since disappeared due to a variety of reasons. This relatively large family contains three sub-families: Percinae, the perches; Luciopercinae, the walleye and sauger; and Etheostomatinae, the darters.

Members of the perch family are characterized by rather slender, elongated bodies and by a large bone on the gill cover which ends in a flat spine. The dorsal fins are a very distinctive characteristic of the family with a definite separation evident between the anterior spiny portion and the soft portion to the posterior. The mouth of walleye and sauger is filled with formidable canine teeth on the jaws, the roof of the mouth and palate, teeth that are absent in the perch and darters.

All members of the family are strictly carnivorous. The large species are piscivorous, eating mostly other fishes, while the smaller darter species prey mostly on minute aquatic insects and planktonic crustaceans. A wide range of forage and habitat preference is primarily responsible for the distribution of the family throughout Iowa.

Smaller fishes in the perch family have developed several unique ways to protect themselves from predation by larger predator fish. The perches have sharp spines in the dorsal fin and gill cover bones, a very durable covering of tough scales and the ability to swim strongly. Some of the darters are capable of burying themselves in the sand bottom with only their snout and eyes protruding. Even with these protective devices, however, they are not entirely immume from predation. Yellow perch, especially young, serve as important forage for game species such as northern pike, bass and walleye where they inhabit common waters. Darters are occasionally taken by larger fishes but tend to comprise an insignificant part of the predator`s diet.

All perch family members reproduce in the spring in a variety of interesting ways. Yellow perch string their eggs in gelatinous ribbons over vegetation and underwater structures. Walleye and sauger deposit their eggs at random in shallow water. Some darters — logperch, Iowa darter, and least darter — do likewise, while others — rainbow darter — cover their eggs with gravel or sand. Some, such as the Johnny darter and fantail darter, place their eggs on the undersides of objects where they are cared for by the male parent. Males of many darter species assume brilliant colors during the spawning season.

Walleye, perch and sauger are important game fishes and are highly valued by anglers in Iowa as well as across this continent. In our state walleye rank as the fourth most-sought-after fish. Perch are of more regional importance, particularly in the natural lakes and Mississippi River. The darters are too small to be of importance to anglers and are not useful as bait-fish. However, their beautiful coloration and odd habits make them delightful fishes to observe. They are fascinating to watch in a native-fish aquarium, but they are difficult to keep, since they must be provided with a live diet.

The darters are a quite unique group of colorful little fish. Their name undoubtedly originated from the fact that they do not swim in the ordinary fashion but dart from place to place. They start and stop with great speed, often sinking immediately to the bottom, where they hide among rocks. They may remain motionless for extended periods on the bottom of streams, under rocks, or perched on a stone, supported by their pectoral fins. Most species can not suspend themselves in the water since they have only a rudimentary swim bladder.

Seventeen darter species and subspecies have been reported in Iowa waters, although the status of some is now questionable. Many of the darter species are brilliantly colored, especially during spawning. Others are nearly sand-colored and are difficult to distinguish from rocks on the stream bottom. Although many darters are found in comparatively swift streams, several species are known to prefer the quiet weed beds of lakes or the open bars of the larger interior rivers.

Darters usually inhabit fairly shallow water and are rather solitary individuals. They are largely carnivorous, feeding upon aquatic insect larvae and other small organisms.

Good hunting, good fishing, Hank   text     

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