Show Me Walleye

“You Should’ve Been Here Yesterday!”

No angler wants to hear these words, but they are especially stinging to the ears of a walleye seeker. Always on the move, walleye rarely linger long and could be said to be a fish without a PO box. Even if they stay in one location, walleye are known for being picky, refusing to hit a lure that worked great just the day before.

Because of these habits, walleye can be challenging fish to catch. However, the pleasure of the chase and the delicious reward of a walleye dinner are enough to keep many anglers on the trail.

Improve your angling odds by understanding the annual patterns of Missouri reservoir walleye and learning some new techniques.

Native to Missouri

Walleye are native to portions of Missouri and many river populations sustain themselves with natural reproduction. However, walleye in our large and small reservoirs, and some streams, do not reproduce enough to meet desired catch and harvest levels. The Missouri Department of Conservation stocks fingerling walleye into these waters.

Each year, Department staff at Lost Valley and Chesapeake hatcheries raise and stock more than 1.2 million walleye into Missouri lakes and streams to meet angler demand and desired harvest levels. Lakes that receive walleye stockings include Bilby, Bull Shoals, Jacomo, Lake of the Ozarks, Longview, Long Branch, Mozingo, Norfork, Pomme de Terre, Smithville, Stockton, Table Rock, and Truman. These reservoirs offer a wide variety of walleye fishing opportunities in balance with other sport fish species. Some lakes, such as Stockton Lake, are harvest-oriented walleye fisheries, with a minimum length limit of 15 inches. Other lakes, such as Bull Shoals, are more trophy-oriented fisheries and have an 18-inch length limit.

Seasonal Patterns

The secret to fishing is to fish where the fish are. Finding walleye is not an easy task, but there are some seasonal patterns that can be counted on year after year.

Late Winter/Spring

In late winter, walleye are found in their traditional pre-spawn locations. Hot spots during this time are deep pools near spawning shoals in tributary rivers and streams. Walleye also congregate in main lake areas along rocky shorelines and points, as they prepare to spawn on these rocky substrates.

The timing of the spawn can vary greatly on any particular body of water from year to year. In addition to length of day, the timing of the walleye spawn is heavily influenced by