Illustration by Duane Raver
(Enlarge image)

Scientific Name: Stizostedion vitreum

Classification:  Game Fish

Abundance: Common in several reservoirs in the Piedmont and Mountain regions of NC


Species Profile (pdf)



Walleye (Photo by NCWRC)

Walleye fingerlings (Photo by NCWRC)

Walleye state record -13 lbs; 8 oz., from Lake Chatuge-Shooting Creek on 8/16/1986

Additional Information

The Walleye is the largest member of the perch family. It has a long, slender body, large canine teeth, large eyes and two separate dorsal fins. Normal color is silvery to gray, with a white or cream belly. The back is darker than the sides and has 7 to 9 saddles. Walleye have a black spot at the posterior base of the first dorsal fin and a white spot at the lower portion of the tail fin. Walleye grow rapidly in North Carolina. The average-size Walleye is less than 18 in. long and 1 ½ lbs. in weight.

Native to Canada and the northern United States, Walleye have been stocked in most states except a few in the far west and south. In North Carolina, the Commission has stocked Walleye in Mountain and Piedmont reservoirs. Walleye prefer clear, cool water and usually stay in deep water during the day, moving to shallow waters at night. Young Walleye prefer to feed on fish but will eat crayfish, leeches, mollusks, worms and insects. Adult Walleye are large, visual predators and their main diet is threadfin shad, although they will eat small bass, trout, perch and sunfishes as well. They usually feed at night on or near the bottom. Learn more by reading the Walleye species profile.

The following fishing regulations are effective Aug. 1 of each year.

Inland Fishing Regulations
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.

Warmwater Game Fish
Game fish size and creel limits. Also, Bass and Morone (striped bass) Identification Charts.

Fishing Tips:

Anglers often fish with jigs to catch Walleye. One technique that works well is to cast the jig parallel to boat and let it sink. Start a hopping motion using only the wrist, not the arm. Make the jig hop 6 to 12 inches from the bottom while retrieving jig between hops. Slack the line after each hop. Jigs come in many sizes, colors and styles, although experts swear on a round head, yellow chartreuse jig. Green, white, red and orange jigs work well, too. Other popular baits include minnows, nightcrawlers and minnow-shaped crankbaits.

Places to Fish:

Though found in streams and rivers, Walleye prefer lake environments. Walleye are considered a cool-water species, living in maximum water temperatures of less than 77 degrees. In North Carolina lakes, Walleye prefer the least-turbid waters. They are found over hard bottoms composed of hard clay, gravel, boulders or bedrock. Walleye ordinarily inhabit moderate depths of from 20 to 60 ft., which is deeper than largemouth bass or smallmouth bass prefer.

Historic range and status in North Carolina uncertain, possibly lower Pigeon and French Broad rivers.

Stocked in 1950s in some reservoirs.

Currently stocked by Va. in Lake Gaston.

Reproducing populations in rivers and reservoirs of the Hiwassee, Little Tennessee, and upper Catawba river basins.

Reports (PDF)

2019 - Nantahala Reservoir Gill-Net Surveys, 2010 and 2017

2019 - Fontana Reservoir Creel Survey, 2006–2008

2019 - Lake Chatuge Walleye Stocking, 2014-2016

2019 - Contribution of Stocked Walleye in Lake Fontana, 2016–2018

2018 - The Dynamic Lake James Walleye Fishery

2018 - Contribution of Stocked Walleye in Lake Santeetlah

2018 - Contribution of Stocked Walleye in Lake Hiwassee

2018 - Contribution of Stocked Walleye in Lake Glenville

2012 - Creel Surveys of Nantahala and Queens Creek Reservoirs, 1999-2000

2012 - Creel Surveys of Hydropower Impoundments in the Upper Tuckasegee River Basin, 2000 – 2001

2011 - Lake Gaston Walleye Survey, 2007–2008

2009 - Contribution of Stocked Walleye Fingerlings in Hiwassee Reservoir

2007 - Characteristics of the Walleye Populations in Lakes Hickory and Rhodhiss

2006 - Survey of Lake Gaston Walleye Anglers Identified Through Tag Returns

2005 - Lake James Walleye Investigation, Survey Summary 1999-2004

2005 - Lake James Creel Survey, 1997–1998

2004 - Lake James Walleye Investigation, Survey Summary 2003

2004 - Hiwassee Reservoir Walleye Survey, 2000–2003

2004 - Contribution of Stocked Fingerling Walleyes in Lake James

2004 - Blueback Herring Ovivory and Piscivory in Tributary Arms of Hiwassee Reservoir

2003 - Lake James Walleye Investigation, Survey Summary 2002

2003 - Contribution of Stocked Fingerling Walleye in Lake James (2002 Interim Report)

2002 - Lake James Walleye Investigation Survey Summary 2001

2002 - Creel Surveys of Santeetlah, Cheoah, Calderwood and Chilhowee Reservoirs,1998-99

2002 - Contribution of Stocked Fingerling Walleye in Lake James (2001 Interim Report)

1989 - Evaluation of the Fishery Resources of Lake James Emphasizing Walleye Management


One-Page Summaries (PDF)

2009 - Research Summary on Walleye in Hiwassee Reservoir