Do Walleye Fish Have Teeth? [Answers and Pics]

Do Walleye Fish Have Teeth

Walley is one of the most popular game fish species, native to North America.

You can find them in many waters, and even enjoy walleye ice fishing.

They can grow quite large, and specimens around 80 centimeters long are not uncommon. Their appearance is characterized by large eyes pointing outward.


 

Their mouth is also quite large, but do walleye have teeth?

Walleye mouth is full of relatively sharp teeth. These can look intimidating and anglers handle walleyes with caution. As carnivores, walleyes need sharp teeth to catch and hold their prey. Walleye teeth are present and visible in both upper and lower jaw.

To know more about walleye teeth, and how to handle them, read the following chapters:

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Do Walleye Fish Have Teeth?

YES, walleyes do have teeth. These large canine teeth are protruding from both jaws, in rows.

When walleyes are hunting small fish, their teeth are used to grab the fish and hold it. Tips of their teeth are not razor sharp, but a bit rounded. Despite that fact, they are sharp enough to capture prey with no problem.

Walleye teeth are well visible and the front part of their mouth has from 2 to 6 long teeth which are the largest and most notable.


 

Between these long ones, you can see shorter teeth that fill the space between. Deeper in their mouth, there is a set of even smaller and shorter teeth too.

These small teeth are used to hold the slippery prey. Small fish walleyes prey on can have a smooth surface and could slip away from their mouth. These teeth prevent that from happening.

You can see walleye teeth pics below and in intro picture, to get the idea how they look.

Do Walleye Fish Have Teeth? [With Lure in Mouth]

How Many and What Kind of Teeth do Walleye Have?

So, now when you know do walleye fish have teeth, I will tell you more about them.

I already mentioned front large and visible teeth, together with smaller ones, but how many teeth do walleye have?

Altogether, walleye can have from 30 to 40 canine teeth. Largest ones can be up to a half inch (1,27 centimeters) long. Large ones are located far apart. This number includes both large canines and smaller teeth surrounding them.

Although the tips of their teeth seem pointy at first, they are actually quite blunt, especially when compared to species like pike. Pike also has teeth located closer together.


 

Smaller walleyes have teeth too. They start growing them during their juvenile phase, and as they grow bigger, so do the teeth. Their number also increases as they grow. In the juvenile phase, their tiny teeth are used to hunt insects and very small fish.

Larger specimens have more teeth, larger teeth, and usually more of those prominent ones laying in their front mouth part. As they grow, their preferred prey increases in size.

Smaller teeth can grow very deep in their mouth, all the way to their cheek lines. These are usually one sixth of an inch (4 millimeters) long, although this size can slightly vary.

Teeth located deep in their mouth are tiny and their size is around 1/16 of an inch (1,5 millimeters). These numbers are based on an average, and of course, huge specimens can have larger ones, while small walleyes will have much smaller teeth.



Can a Walleye Bite Your Finger Off? [And Line?]

The reason why some anglers, usually fishing beginners, ask do walleye have teeth is because they are afraid that they could potentially get bitten by fish.

Unlike pike anglers, walleye anglers don’t have a lot to worry about.

As I already mentioned, their teeth are quite blunt, and are not a serious threat to humans. Also, walleye will not intentionally bite you.

On the other hand, some common sense and caution are advisable. If you stick your hand into walleye mouth, they can bite you, and even leave some marks on your skin.

When it comes to serious injuries, like loosing a finger, walleyes are unable to do so and you do not have to worry about it.

Because their teeth are so far apart and the tips are not razor sharp, they can’t bite and break the line.

This statement is valid for all line types, including mono, braided and fluorocarbon.

However, they can cause abrasion damage, so you should frequently inspect your line while walleye fishing. At least the part that ends up in their mouth.

Using leader lines is not advisable when walleye fishing.

They will notice it and avoid it. You can use fluorocarbon as a leader if you need to, because of its resistance and low visibility. Metal leaders are counterproductive in this case.

When anglers experience line break while walleye fishing, it is usually due to walleye size and the fact that they fight hard.

Walleyes are present in waters where pikes live. If you accidentally catch a pike, it could bite off the line.



Do Walleye Lose Their Teeth?

When mammals, including humans, loose a tooth, it will never grow back again. However, fish species, including walleyes are different.

So, do walleye lose their teeth?

Walleyes are able to regrow their teeth during their whole lives. They shed the teeth and renew them. This is a slow and continuous process, without any notable seasonal patterns. Regrowing them has some benefits for the fish. If they lose a tooth by accident, it will grow again. If this wasn’t the case and they lost a few, they wouldn’t be able to hunt successfully.



Also, shedding and regrowing teeth enables them to have strong and healthy teeth for hunting at all times.

There are some stories about seasonal teeth shedding, and you are likely to encounter people who think so when the walleyes are not biting, but those statements are false. There are the same stories about pike teeth shedding in mid-summer.

If the walleye is not biting, maybe you are using the wrong lure, searching for them in a wrong place, during wrong time of the day/year, or the water simply lacks oxygen and walleyes are feeling a bit slow. It is important to debunk these myths for beginner anglers.



Are Walleye Teeth Poisonous?

Walleye fish teeth are large, narrow, blunt, and look a bit dangerous, but are they poisonous?

The simple answer is NO, walleye teeth are not poisonous. They do not produce and release any kind of venom that could enter your body and do some harm. However, there are stories about some side effects occurring after walleye bites.

So, what can go wrong?

Walleye can damage your skin and create abrasions, or even wounds. These wounds are an entry way for bacteria that can cause all kinds of infections. When fishing, your hands are wet and dirty, and your fishing trip may last for days.



If the wound is exposed to all of these elements it can easily get infected. You will notice that the area is swollen, painful and possibly pus can occur. This simply means that your wound is infected. If a serious infection occurs, you should seek medical advice and most likely you will have to use antibiotics.

It is important to say that any fish bite can cause infections if the wound is not treated properly.

When you get bitten by the fish, you should clean the wound with clean water, and cover it with a bandage or something to protect it from dirt. Change the bandage regularly because it needs to be clean. It is better to let the wound “breathe” but sometimes covering it makes more sense, if you can’t ensure cleanliness in any other way.

Actually, this is true for any kind of open wound you get while fishing, not just those that are a result of a fish bite.



Can We Touch Walleye? How to Unhook it Properly?

As already said, walleyes are not poisonous and you are free to touch it.

However, avoid putting hands into their mouth. If you are afraid of bites, you can always use gloves to handle the fish.

When it comes to unhooking it, you can use pliers instead of your hands.

Removing the hook is not always easy.

Anglers using live bait know what I am talking about. Fish can swallow it completely and the hook can end up very deep.

To unhook a walleye, first you have to know how to hold it.

Small specimens can be simply held behind their heads. Make sure that your fingers are firmly holding the fish around the body, in front of the dorsal fin.

Larger specimens can’t be held this way, due to their diameter. If you don’t plant to keep the fish, you can hold it behind the gills, in a way that you slide your fingers underneath.

Other hand is used to hold the fish under the belly.

The gill method can’t be used if you are practicing catch and release because it can harm the fish. If you slide the fingers too deep, you are going to reach the red part. Experienced anglers are able to control this motion and only slide the finger under the gill cover, however, it is not advisable, especially for beginners.

If you plan to release it, use a net to get the fish out of the water and if you are still afraid of bites, use gloves.

When the fish is out of the water, you must unhook it.

Walleyes have protective skin coating and if you handle the fish wrongly or touch it too much, you are going to damage it. This is important for those who are releasing it.

Use pliers while you are holding the fish with one hand, and remove the hook.



Walleye Bite – Does it Hurt?

As already mentioned, walleye bite is not very dangerous, but it can still hurt.

Of course, as they are not able do a great damage, the pain is not going to be very intense.

However, you should be careful.

I mentioned possible infections that can occur after you get bitten. Infected wound can hurt a lot, and it can take a long time for it to heal.

There are anglers out there saying that walleyes have very sharp teeth and that they can bite hard, but I think those have never been bitten by a pike.

Trust me, there is a huge difference between the two.



Do Walleye Eat Other Fish?

Walleyes are predators. That is why they have these large teeth and of course, they are carnivores. They eat smaller fish species, and those are the main part of their diet.

Juveniles prey on insects, invertebrates and tiny fish. Larger specimens mostly eat minnows and yellow perch.

Besides small fish, walleyes can consume prey like frogs, crayfish, snails, and similar creatures, when fish is not available.

This is the reason that many anglers prefer to use minnows and leeches as baits.

I have to mention that young and small walleyes can also become food for large pike or bass. But, when the walleye is fully grown, it is on top of the food chain within its waters.

Due to their excellent eyesight, they have the advantage over their prey, especially in murky water or low light conditions. That is the main reason why walleyes like to feed during dusk and dawn, as well as during very cloudy days.

Conclusion

Walleyes may look intimidating, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Walleye teeth are large, but not sharp enough to seriously harm your hands.

They are fun to catch, and if you are lucky, you may end up with a huge one in the end of your line. Handle the fish with care and use pliers for unhooking purpose.

If you accidentally get bitten, clean the wound and make sure you are keeping impurities away. It could hurt a bit, but I am sure that many of you had worse fishing injuries or bites, that can’t compare with walleyes.

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