The ‘blue walleyes’ of Cook County and the BWCA
Angler reports of walleye with a blueish hue continue to capture the attention of fisheries staff at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Grand Marais office in June 2022.
Are these ‘blue walleye’ being caught in some Cook County lakes the same species from the Great Lakes that are considered extinct?
Not likely, according to Matt Weberg, the interim Grand Marais fisheries supervisor for the DNR.
According to Weberg, any walleye caught in Cook County that have a shade of blue to them are the common walleye strain found across North America, they just have a certain mucous that makes them appear blue.
Referencing other studies from Ontario and Wisconsin, Weberg told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs that the mucous creates the blue color – called Sandercyanin – and that it’s a form of protection for the fish. An easy way to think of it is that the muscos is a sunscreen of sorts for the walleye, Weberg said.
The phones were ringing with a steady buzz during a recent ‘pop quiz’ segment on WTIP’s North Shore Morning program when host Mark Abrahamson asked listeners to identify the two types of walleyes that, at least at one point in history, could be found in the Great Lakes area.
Weberg spoke with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about blue walleyes June 22 on a lake near the Gunflint Trail. Audio below.