Each zone on the map represents the approximate date (to the nearest week) when walleyes begin to spawn. Actual dates in your immediate area may vary due to local water temperatures and weather conditions. Note that the dates listed apply to large, public waters, and remember that walleyes will spawn earlier in smaller or shallower water bodies.
In many states, walleyes are protected by closed fishing seasons during the spawn, though border waters between states often remain open. Make sure you know the regulations where you fish, and if you do have the opportunity to target early-season ’eyes, this map will help you zero in on them.
Spawning activity in rivers is dependent on the weather conditions upstream, and the spawn may occur earlier or later than in nearby lakes. Expect walleyes to spawn earlier in rivers with high input of water from springs. For example, in the Current River in southeast Missouri, the spawn usually happens two to three weeks earlier than in nearby rivers and reservoirs lacking substantial spring flows.
Walleye fisheries have been established throughout much of the West, and elevation will strongly affect the spawn. In Wyoming, for example, walleyes spawn in early April in Glendo Lake (elev. 4,600 ft.), but not until late April in nearby Alcova Lake (elev. 5,500 ft.), and as late as early May in Seminoe Lake (elev. 6,300 ft.). Obviously, many factors can affect the spawn, but the timing for walleyes is all about water temperature. And 45 degrees is the magic number. In the North, waters can warm to 45 degrees within a week or two of ice-out.
Male walleyes begin moving to the spawning shores or shoals about one week before the females. If you are catching a lot of males in a particular area, come back in three to five days to target the females.
The circle in Mississippi and Alabama represents the current, naturally-reproducing population of the Gulf Coast strain of walleyes.