How the Walleye Spawn Works

Walleye range from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.
Walleye range from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River.
Ken Lucas/Visuals Unlimited/Getty Images

Ah, walleye. What a lovely fish. ­And one of the most fascinating times to find them is during the spawn. As the first warm days of spring thaw out the rivers and lakes, walleye start toward the spawning grounds, and fishermen head out to snare them [source: Pitlo]. This tasty freshwater fish is a prize for anglers throughout the Midwest, especially in South Dakota where the walleye is the state fish [sources: Fielder, South Dakota].

Year after year, walleye return in schools to spawn in their chosen location, which is determined by following their homing instinct [source: CPI]. The walleye's repr­oductive ritual offers an angler a prime opportunity to snag them. More precisely, the golden moment comes right before the spawn, when the males gather in dense concentration by dams and at the mouths of inlets. They wait in these staging areas for females to join them when the water is just the right temperature [source: Pitlo].


So how can you locate these walleye convention centers, and when is the right time to strike? In this article, we'll delve into the when and where, and how to go about fishing for walleye during the spawning season. First we'll look at the factors that determine when the migration takes place.­