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NIPISSING BLUE WALLEYE

Scientific:
Sander vitreus glaucum Mitchill
French: Doré bleu
Nipissing Ojibway: zhaw shk gahns
Status: Extinct- Local Inconclusive

Other Name: blue pickerel

Description: Most evidence, including genetic tests, suggests that the Lake Nipissing blue walleye is a colour morph of the yellow walleye (Sander vitreus). However, even W.B.Scott and E.J. Crossman, two of the foremost authorities on freshwater fishes in North America, state that the grey-blue walleyes seen regularly in Lake Nipissing cannot be denied nor proven to be blue walleyes based on their observations.

Grey-colored walleyes, which are the result of bluish color mucus, occur with varying frequency in most yellow walleye populations. Individuals of a slightly bluer color occur in Lake Nipissing. The known blue walleyes of Lake Erie & Ontario were distinguishable from most grey-blue forms, in that they were more slate-blue or steel-blue on the dorsal surface, ice-blue to silvery on the sides and silvery to white on the ventral surface. The pelvic fins were white. In the mid 1900s, the blue walleyes of Lake Nipissing were distinctive enough from yellows in the lake to have different fishing catch limits (An angler could catch 35 blue walleye in one day, but only 6 yellow walleye per day).

At the turn of the century (1900), the walleye of Lake Nipissing were almost all blue in color. However, this stock was fished until depleted by a commercial gill net fishery started after World War I to provide food and employment after the war. Once this fishery was closed, efforts turned to replenishing the stock, and a faster-growing yellow strain of walleye from southern Ontario was introduced into the lake. This new yellow strain apparently naturalized in the lake, becoming a self-sustaining population. The yellow walleye and the blue walleye can and did interbreed, likely rendering whatever pure blue stock existed in Lake Nipissing very rare and possibly extinct. To date, all genetic tests of Lake Nipissing blue walleyes indicate their shared ancestry with yellow walleye in the lake. However, every year a few very distinct blue-colored walleye are caught in Lake Nipissing, which keeps alive the mystery of whether or not true blue walleye still exist.

If you catch a blue walleye, it should be returned to the water.

Compiled by: Richard Rowe Nipissing First Nation