The Truth About Walleye Teeth (Must-Know Facts)

The walleye is a freshwater fish that is native to most of Canada and North America. Due to the fact that they are so popular among anglers, fishing for walleyes is regulated in many places, so you should always check to see what regulations are in place before you go fishing for them. 

Walleyes have excellent visual acuity in low-lighting, which is why they typically feed more extensively at dawn and dusk, on cloudy or overcast days, and in poor weather conditions that disrupt light penetration in the water. This allows them to take advantage of their prey in these conditions. In dark waters, they will feed throughout the day.

You can often find these fish in shallow water areas in the spring and fall time due to the spawning grounds here. However, on calmer days, you might find them at the deep side of the shoreline drop-off and around shore slopes that are at around 10 feet or below. Due to their widespread presence in Canada and North America, these fish are often caught while ice fishing during the winter.

Do Walleye Fish Have Teeth?

Yes, the mouth of a walleye is particularly large and is filled with very sharp teeth. It is important to know about the fish you are trying to catch, as they could pose a risk to you and even your line with their teeth.

Walleye fish have a long set of canines visible in the front part of their mouth, and there is a prominent group of 4 to 8 long pointed teeth at the front end of their mouths. This is the perfect positioning for them to be able to grab and hold onto their prey.

Facts About Walleye Teeth

Walleye fish have enamel and dentine parts that are similar to other mammals. However, unlike other mammals, they can continually renew their teeth throughout their lifetimes. To do this, they will shed and regrow them again, but the process is very slow, and no evidence suggests a pattern to this process. This is interesting and is a big reason why their teeth are so sharp all of the time.

As well as the fact that they have long canines, they also have shorter sets between them, and then even smaller sets inside of the mouth cavity and on the surface of the gill rakers. They have all of these teeth to hold on to struggling prey with a slippery surface more easily. This makes it much more difficult for their prey to escape, making them highly efficient predators. Without these teeth, they might not be as successful. 

If you didn’t already know, these fish would grab a live fish, but they need to move it around until its head points down the gullet to eat it. So, their teeth will make sure that the struggling prey does not get away from them while they do this.

How Sharp Are Walleye Teeth?

Walleye teeth are sharp, but they are not as sharp as some other fish, like pike, as their teeth’ tops are more rounded than a deadly sharp point. So, while they have teeth, they are not as sharp as many other fish teeth. This is why anglers rarely get bitten by walleye, but pike anglers get bitten all the time. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can let your guard down when handling a walleye, as they can certainly bite if they wanted to. We will talk more about handling these fish later on.

Something else that is interesting to note about walleye teeth is that smaller walleye will usually have sharper teeth than bigger ones. This is due to the fact that they are more narrow, which means that the tips are going to be sharper. If it wasn’t already obvious, you should never put your fingers inside of its mouth, as things could go very wrong. 

Will a Walleye Bite You?

There is no question about the fact that a walleye can bite you, as some say they have human teeth, but whether they will on their own accord is a different story. There have not been any reports to date of a human being attacked by a walleye, but it is quite likely that they will bite you if you were to put your hand inside their mouth. Some might even say that you are asking to be bitten if you do this.

Being bitten by a walleye is more common than you might think, but this is only because of people putting their hands in their mouths rather than them choosing to bite you randomly. So, if you manage to catch a walleye, we highly recommend keeping your hands to yourself if you don’t want to get hurt. Many people have learned this tip from experience. 

There will be some occasions when you might need to put your hands inside the mouth of a walleye to retrieve the hook, and this can be even more of an issue if you are using live bait. This is because the fish can end up swallowing the bait before you set the hook, which will make it much harder to remove. 

If this does happen, we recommend that you use a quality pair of fishing pliers instead of your fingers to retrieve the hook. You will need to make sure that the pliers are long enough to reach the back of the mouth, and this can sometimes be a distance. 

In the event that you do get bitten by a walleye, it is important to make sure that you are properly clean and disinfect the wound as quickly as you can. There are lots of bacteria living inside the mouth of a walleye, and it can make the bite become infected if the mound is not cleaned out. If you are ever concerned about a bite, you should seek medical advice just to be on the safe side. 

Can Walleye Teeth Cut Through a Line?

It is very unlikely that a walleye will bite through your line because their teeth are blunter on the points. The tops of their teeth are quite rounded, which means that they probably wouldn’t be able to cut through the line directly. This also means that you won’t need to use a metal leader when you are out fishing for walleye, as it is not needed in this case.

You should know that using a metal leader would be a bad idea for trying to catch walleye, and this is because they have great eyesight and are not the biggest biters. So, if you are trying to catch a walleye, your best bet is to use a fluorocarbon leader, as this is one of the least visible leaders you can use. Although, if the same area that you are fishing in is also home to fish with sharper teeth, then a stronger line is probably a good idea.

How to Handle a Walleye So Their Teeth Don’t Hurt You

If you want to keep your hands intact, then it is probably best that you know exactly how to hold and handle a walleye once you have caught one. For smaller fish, you can simply grab them behind the head with your thumb and fingers on their back, but this might be too difficult for bigger fish. 

For those walleye that are too big to do this, you should instead grab it by inserting your fingers underneath the bottom of the gill cover and sliding them forward until you reach the V-shaped part at the front. This way, you can pull them out of the water without being bitten.

Once the fish is out of the water, especially if you’re ice fishing for walleye, you should use your other hand to support the fish’s belly. When inserting your fingers, make sure that you don’t put them all the way into the red part of the gills, as this is a sensitive area. 

These fish are protected in lots of places, so you will likely have to catch them and release them into the water again. This is why it is really important to be careful not to harm them.

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