Stomachs were examined from 1,473 walleyes (Stizostedion vitreum vitreum) of the 1959 year class collected in western Lake Erie from June 1959 to October 1960. In the same period, the relative abundance and lengths of potential forage species were determined from trawl catches.
The walleye fed almost entirely on fish. In 1959 the food was dominated first (in June and July) by yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and then, in sequence, by spottail shiners (Notropis hudsonius) and emerald shiners (Notropis atherinoides). In 1960, the walleyes fed mostly on yearling spottail shiners and emerald shiners in the spring and summer but young alewives (Alosa pseudoharengus) became the dominant food in the fall.
The length of forage fish increased with the length of walleyes and walleyes of a given length usually ate forage fish within a restricted range of lengths. This size preference was shown by walleyes of the same length in the same and different months. The increased in length of forage fish with length of walleye was not proportionate. Walleyes 2.5 inches long ate forage fish 0.44 times their length whereas walleyes 15.5 inches long ate forage fish only 0.28 times their length.
The diet of the walleyes changed according to species and lengths of forage fish available. Since young of several species hatched in different months and grew at different rates, abundance and suitability as forage sometimes changed rapidly.
Additional publication details
Selective food preferences of walleyes of the 1959 year class in Lake Erie