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vman11

Lake Fish vs River Fish

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vman11

So I've heard guys mention "we caught more lake fish this trip than last" or "seemed like we caught 3 river fish to every lake fish."

I understand there are always resident walleye in the river and some fish from the lake eventually make their way upstream. However, I don't think I could really honestly be able to tell which is which.

There are probably more than a few opinions/theories out there. I would like to hear how people classify lake vs river fish, and would love for somebody with DNR or biology background to weigh in.

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maxpower117

The best thing to do is ask the DNR survey lady that gets around up there. Listen to what she says. She really knows that river.

I blew her off the first time I talked to her in '12. But what she said came to fruition exactly as she said.

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gizmoguy

Wise words if I ever heard them. You going to get her to post an answer to the question?

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maxpower117

Wise words if I ever heard them. You going to get her to post an answer to the question?

My words were more informative than yours. Thanks for the input.

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srj

Vman, not much science in my thinking. Many years ago, we were netting a fish when the wardens pulled up. As they got next to us, one of them said "nice river fish, eh". It was one of the ghostly gray fish. ALso, over the years, on days with big numbers caught in the spring, a large majority are colored like the fish I catch in the lake rather than the very light color. Way more of the light fish have "warts", but not sure what that means. Not much science.

I keep asking them when caught, but they just aren't talking!

Good luck

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gixxer01

gixxer01man11]So I've heard guys mention "we caught more lake fish this trip than last" or "seemed like we caught 3 river fish to every lake fish."

I understand there are always resident walleye in the river and some fish from the lake eventually make their way upstream. However, I don't think I could really honestly be able to tell which is which.

There are probably more than a few opinions/theories out there. I would like to hear how people classify lake vs river fish, and would love for somebody with DNR or biology background to weigh in.

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RainyRat

I agree with Gixxer. The only time of year you will catch 'pale' eyes or ones with 'warts' on the river is this time of year and again in the late fall, if there is a strong shiner run. After opener in another month or so you never get the pale ones or ones with warts on the river and that holds true throughout the whole summer. Based on that, and the fact that I catch a lot of eyes with warts on the lake during the winter I've always assumed those were the lake fish and they were just here to spawn or chasing food in the fall.

When the pale and darker ones are put side by side there is a distinct difference in color.

Just my 2 cents.

RR

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fiskyknut

I've not bought into that 'brights' and 'dulls' theory myself as reality. I've caught them bright ones winter and summer on the pond and dull ones mid summer in the river so I dunno, I kinda think their color more relative to other variables, weather, depth's they most recently spent their time, and the fishes 'mood' for lack of a better way to express.

Some of the brightest prettiest fish I catch come out of shallow weeds on the mainlake during summer. I've got dulls mid-summer in the river. Perhaps these fish are lost !!

As for the Lympho bumpies. Those fish show up now and then throughout the year in both the river and the lake from what I've seen, and this is over many years... I figure I threw my first Mister Twister into the water below the Manitou in 1977.

I don't care iffin they're river fish or Lakers I just like catching them !!

fiskyknut

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srj

Fisky, gotta agree--river, lake, ugly, pretty, really doesn't matter as long as you get bit. I have to say that when we have been pulling cranks midsummer in my boat, I don't recall any ghostly eyes. Maybe a pale sauger or two that managed to find your reef runner or #11.

I called fisheries yesterday but everyone was out of the office. I'm curious to get their take on the color thing.

Good luck

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Bigfatbert

I believe the growths on the Walleyes are a very common occurrence during reproductive times , and the upcoming spawn. Walleyes seem to have these growths during the late winter and spring time ,and as the spawning cycle finishes, the growths go away for the most part.This happens on lake fish and river fish both. As for the coloring of the Walleyes , the native river fish tend to be the white or pale looking fish , and the native lake fish that migrate upstream to spawn tend to be the darker looking ones. Sometimes you may catch a pale one in the lake that for whatever reason was more of a river native fish that found its way into the lake for whatever reason. Either way , dark or pale , or bumps or not , they all taste great in the frying pan... Yum!

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Ballyhoo

The "warts" on the fish are a fish's version of a cold. That is what I was told by a fisheries person quite a few years ago.

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TravPowers

Hey guys, I have been reading the questions about the "warts" on fish and if it's what I think you are describing it is actually a virus on the fish called Dermal Sarcoma. Bigfatbert is onto something, dermal sarcoma will actually spread from fish to fish during spawning season.

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TravPowers

As far as the coloration goes on the walleye up there I agree there are a lot of different theories when it comes to this some of which are true. I have a degree in fish biology and have often thought about why some fish in the same body of water can look so different? We all know the walleyes can travel from the river to the lake and vice versa but the main reason why a walleye is colored is for camouflage. Where they spend most of their time throughout the year will cause them to be lighter or darker colored. There are some small contributing factors that can play a role such as age, diet and genetics but normally a fisherman can tell when you catch an older walleye that the color has been faded over time. I hope this helps.

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Cheers

As far as the coloration goes on the walleye up there I agree there are a lot of different theories when it comes to this some of which are true. I have a degree in fish biology and have often thought about why some fish in the same body of water can look so different? We all know the walleyes can travel from the river to the lake and vice versa but the main reason why a walleye is colored is for camouflage. Where they spend most of their time throughout the year will cause them to be lighter or darker colored. There are some small contributing factors that can play a role such as age, diet and genetics but normally a fisherman can tell when you catch an older walleye that the color has been faded over time. I hope this helps.

So do walleye change color to match there environment ? If so how long does it take ? What color phase is best suited for deep and what for shallow or stained water ? I assume that the color of the bottom is the determining factor ,dark bottom dark fish ,sandy bottom light fish so the fish will blend in when viewed from above .The reason for white belly is to match the surface view when viewed from below ???

I always wished I had put in the effort to get a fisheries degree .

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TravPowers

Hi Cheers, you're right on with the eyes being darker colored in deeper water and lighter in shallow as well as the belly being white so the predator fish can't see them from below. Very good observations. The factor that will change is called melanophores that are under the scales that will either expand or contract to change the pigment in the fishes scales making them lighter or darker. If you were to put a walleye in a white bucket it will become pale very quickly but if you are looking to see more natural patterns put them in a darker bucket.

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Cheers

Thanks.

Very interesting !

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