What Is the Difference Between a Walleye and a Pickerel?

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One difference between a walleye and a pickerel is that a walleye is a member of the perch family, and a pickerel is a type of pike. The walleye is also considerably larger than a pickerel. The walleye can grow to nearly 3 1/2 feet long and weigh up to 24 pounds, while the American pickerel can grow to 16 inches long and weigh about 2 1/4 pounds.

The walleye is found in deep rivers, lakes and reservoirs. It can be found from the lower Mississippi Valley to northern Canada and east to the American Midwest and northeast Canada. Another difference between walleye and pickerel are the eyes. The walleye gets its name because its eyes glow in the dark as a result of a retinal membrane that allows it to see in low light. The walleye also has canine teeth that allow it to feed on other fish, crustaceans, aquatic insects, amphibians and even small animals. It’s prized as a fish for both sport and food.

The body shape of the two fish differ as well. The walleye is more rounded, and the pike is long and thin. The dorsal fin of the walleye is split into two sections, unlike the pike with a single top fin. Similarly, the walleye’s tail fin is forked; the pike’s is not.

The pickerel’s range stretches from the Midwest down to the southern states and north to the east coast and southern Canada. Like the walleye, it’s a predatory fish, but it lies in wait for its prey and ambushes it as it swims past.