How to Hold a Walleye

By: Vivien Bullen

Man with Walleye, Northern Ontario Lake
Man with Walleye, Northern Ontario Lake
James Smedley/First Light/Getty Images

The hard part's over. You've baited the hook and cast the line. Y­ou've fe­lt the pull and have confidently reeled in a beautiful 22-inch, three-and-a-half pound walleye. This fine catch deserves a picture, but it's putting up quite the fight, and that jaw full of teeth is less than inviting. If only you knew the best way to hold a walleye. Hold on tight and read on to learn more.

The safest way to hold a walleye is to grasp the fish behind its head. Unlike many smaller fish, walleye have a strong jaw and sharp teeth. By placing your palm across the back of the head and extending your fingers and thumb down around the sides, you not only get a firm grip but also protect your hands from the walleye's bite. This grip provides you with a basic mind frame for holding the fish, but there are other factors that may influence how you handle your catch.


­If you wish to release the walleye after it's caught, you should be especially careful when handling it. Holding the fish by its eyes or gills could cause life-threatening damage. Do your best to keep the walleye in the water as much as possible. If the fish does lose consciousness, get a steady grip and then slowly move the fish back and forth underwater. This allows water to move through the gills and acts in a manner similar to CPR on a human being. By using the proper techniques to handle walleye, you increase safety for yourself and the fish. [source: Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, Landing]

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More Great Links

  • Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. "Catch and Release." (Accessed 11/05/2008)
  • Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. "Landing the Fish." (Accessed 11/05/2008)
  • Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation. "Walleye - Sander vitreus." (Accessed 11/05/2008)
  • Wilderness Resort. "Walleye and Northern Pike approximate Age/Size/Weight comparison Chart for Wabatongushi Lake." (Accessed 11/05/2008)