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The Age of Fish

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The Age of Fish

Determining the age of a walleye gives you a fascinating look into the life history of the fish. • Credit: Gord Pyzer

Learn How to Determine the Age of a Walleye, Yellow Perch or Sauger

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No matter where I am walleye fishing in Northern Ontario, without doubt, the question that I get asked most frequently is: "How old do you think this fish is?"

Fish fascinate anglers and the age of the fish that we're catching seems to be uppermost on most anglers' minds. Youngsters, in particular, want to know if the 16 or 17 inch walleye, or 13 inch jumbo perch that they just caught is the as old as they are, or possibly even older.

Well, guess what?

Determining the age of a walleye, yellow perch or sauger -- all members of the perch family of fishes -- is very easy to accomplish. And it is a whale of fun that gives you an intriguing look into the life history of the fish.

Youngsters always want to know if the jumbo yellow perch or walleye that they are catching are as old as they are, or possibly even older. (Photo credit: Gord Pyzer)

Just like when you cut down a tree and count the growth rings on the stump, you can determine the age of any walleye, yellow perch or sauger that you can catch. You can establish the year it was born and see when it grew quickly -- or slowly -- in response to an early spring, warm water or a profusion of food. You can even compare the age of the fish with its same size brothers and sisters in different waterbodies and lake types.

It is the same information that fisheries managers gather to determine the health of the walleye, perch and sauger populations when they are establishing fishing seasons, catch limits and special regulations.

It is also why, when I have friends and / or family members out fishing with me and we keep a few walleye for shorelunch or dinner, that I often have everyone guess the age of the fish and then award a fun prize to whoever is the closest to being correct.

Oh, and this is important, you don't require any elaborate tools or equipment. As a matter of fact, nothing more sophisticated than a simple pocket knife and some warm water.

If you want to learn how to tell the age of a walleye, yellow perch or sauger, simply click on the following video and watch how easy it is to do.

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