Difference Between Walleye and Pickerel


Main Difference

The main difference between Walleye and Pickerel is that Walleye is a large fish that inhabits deep waters, whereas Pickerel is a small fish that reside in shallow water.

Walleye vs. Pickerel

Walley is a massive fish, on the flip side, pickerel is a small fish. Sander vitreus is the taxonomical name of walleye. The scientific name of the pickerel is Esox niger. The weight of the walleye is higher than that of the pickerel—the habitat of walleye in deep water; on the contrary, pickerel lives in shallow water, sometimes move to deep water.

The body of walleye is composed of olive and golden color, while pickerel are greenish with dark patterns. Walleye is a popular food for people; on the other hand, pickerel has many small bones and lean meat; people do not likely eat this fish. Walleye has unique vision capability, use it to catch their food, whereas pickerel has normal vision, catches its prey by teeth and lungs.


Comparison Chart

Walleye is a large predator fish lives in deep waters.Pickerel is small greenish fish reside in shallow waters.
Scientific Name
Sander vitreusEsox niger
LargeSmall than pickerel
15 pounds1-2 pounds
Olive, goldenGreenish
Better tasteless than walleye
Deep watersShallow waters
GreatLess vision ability
Catches Prey
Use vision to catch preyBy quick lungs and ferocity

What is Walleye?

Sander vitreus is also named as a yellow pike inhabitant of Canada and the Northern United States. Walleye is native to freshwater; also, it is a perciform fish. Walleye is named as yellow walleye; the name distinguishes this fish from blue walleye. The recent analysis suggests that blue and yellow walleye are a genus of the same species and have no taxonomic differentiation. In Canada language, walleye is called pickerel; it does not mean these fish are related to true pickerel.


Walleye is a name that originated from the eyes of fish; it points outward looks like staring at the wall. This character of their eyes provides them benefits to look in the dark at night. The eye shines like nocturnal animals. Walleye is olive to golden in color. Walleye elongate to about 31cm, their weight is about 20lbs. The length and weight of walleye depend upon the region. Walleye males are sexually mature at the age of three or four years. The female walleye matures after a year.

At the end of the cold season or start of summer, the adults move towards tributary streams where they lay eggs on vegetation. The egg hatches and larvae start feeding on the invertebrates. Walleye is a palatable freshwater fish, preferred for eating. Due to its nocturnal food patterns, it is easily caught at night. In Minnesota, the fish is eaten in windy noon or at night. In Minnesota clubs, the fish is deep-fried and prevalent food fair state food.

What is Pickerel?

Esox niger is the species of the pike family. The chain pickerel are freshwater species of fish. The American and chain pickerel belong to the genus Esox. Their greenish body has dark patterns. The characters of the pickerel match the Northern Pike. It is 24cm long and weighs about 3lbs. Rarely, the fish reaches a length of 30cm. The average lifespan is eight years. Its other name is gunny or gun fish.

The fish is inhabitants of northern areas. It is widely found in Canada and America. Pickerel resides in Florida, Texas, Maine, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, nova scotia, and Mississippi valley. It is commonly found in Great Lakes and Lake Michigan. Pickerel eats small fish. When it grows large and can catch large fish, it attacks. Pickerel attacks on large fish, sheath with lungs, and seize with horny teeth. Pickerel also feeds a wide variety of other foods like frogs, cay fish, worms, and mice.

Fish is considered a portion of tasty food by some peoples. It has small bones; hence it becomes difficult to prepare it. Most people avoid eating of pickerel. Pickerel is a lean fish; the meat is white and a light flavor. Pickerel is a sport fish, becomes an enthusiastic fighter after hooking. Pickerel spend most of their lives in shallow waters. When the weather is hot, the fish moves to the deep water. After the temperature falls, pickerels move to weeds beds.

Key Differences

  1. Walleye is a significant predator fish that resides in deep waters, whereas pickerel is a small fish that resides in shallow waters.
  2. The scientific name of walleye is Sander vitreus; conversely, the scientific name of pickerel is Esox niger.
  3. Walleye is a large fish, while the pickerel is small.
  4. Walleye is more massive than pickerel; on the other hand, the weight of the pickerel is lower.
  5. Walleye is olive or golden in color; on the flip side, the color of the pickerel is greenish.
  6. Walleye is famous among people due to its better taste; on the other hand, pickerel is less preferred for eating.
  7. Walleye reside near the bottom of the water body, whereas pickerel lives in shallow waters.
  8. Walleye has an exceptional vision ability that they can see at night; conversely, pickerel has normal vision.
  9. Walleye use their great visionary eyes to catch their prey; on the other hand, pickerel catches their food by lunges.
  10. Walleye belongs to the perch family, while the pickerel belongs to the pike family.


Walleye and Pickerel are both freshwater fish. Walleye is a large fish that lives in deep waters, catches prey through nocturnal features. Pickerel is a small fish that lives in shallow water and catches prey with the assistance of lungs and teeth.

Aimie Carlson

Aimie Carlson is an English language enthusiast who loves writing and has a master degree in English literature. Follow her on Twitter at @AimieCarlson