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Rare Golden Walleye Caught from Oneida Lake

Jason Powers

A rare golden walleye was caught from Oneida Lake, New York.

Jason Powers of Brewerton, New York was on an outing with his six-year-old son at Oneida Lake, just outside of Syracuse on May 24th, 2015.

Sunny and 75, with very little wind, it seemed like the perfect day for Powers to get his son on his first walleye.

Powers and his son Coby were fishing in crystal clear water at the edge of a shoal at a little over ten feet of depth.

“I watched the fish my son got eat the harness,” says Powers. “I was casting it out and letting it hit bottom, then reeling it in just fast enough to spin the blade.”

Powers used a 1/4 oz bullet sinker above the swivel on his rigging to keep the presentation down, and only a half of a nightcrawler on the hooks.

This is the worm harness Powers made at home that caught the golden walleye
This is the worm harness Powers made at home that caught the golden walleye

Fishing out of his 1997 Alumacraft 185 trophy boat, Powers landed the fish on a Shimano Symetre spinning reel with a 7′ 2″ Wright & McGill Insight rod spooled with 12lb power pro line.

Amazed by his catch, he put it in his livewell and drove it home to show it around and take some photos. Living within a mile of the lake he was fishing, he managed to keep it swimming, pausing to snap a few photos before he drove it back to the marina where he launched to safely release it, so it could carry on the rare genetic mutation that creates the color variation.

Jason's golden walleye next to his son Colby's first walleye swimming in the livewell
Jason’s golden walleye next to his son Colby’s first walleye swimming in the livewell

Last Fall, Justin Hoffman covered a golden largemouth bass that was weighed in at a tournament in Ontario. In that article, Dr. Robert Montgomerie, a Professor and Research Chair in Biology at Queen’s University, explained, “Normally, the fish scales receive incoming white light and different molecular structures convert white light to blue or yellow, which make the fish look green. In the yellow (gold) bass, it is likely that some spontaneous mutation occurred that prevented the scales from making the proper molecular structures to convert white light to blue. Without the structures that convert white light to blue, the fish looks yellow (gold) rather than green (which is what you see when blue and yellow combine). It’s not that the bass has gained a yellow pigment but rather lost the ability to produce the blue colours that make its scales look green.”

Jason Powers with his golden Walleye, and his son Coby with his first Walleye
Jason Powers with his golden walleye, and his son Coby with his first walleye

While there have been some rare occurrences of golden bass, both largemouth and smallmouth that have been caught with the same color variation, this may be the first golden walleye to be recorded.

“I sent the pictures to Cornell and even they have never seen one,” says Powers.

Powers took pride in releasing the fish, and had a replica mount created with his son Coby’s first walleye and the golden walleye swimming as a pair on a piece of driftwood.

Coby had lost a walleye while ice fishing the previous winter, but had won the youth division in a tournament they had entered that day with a 12″ yellow perch. Even with the win, Coby was disappointed about losing the walleye, so his father brought him out on the lake for a chance at redemption, and the result was a memorable day of fishing to say the least.

“Best day of fishing ever. Going to be tough to top that!” said Powers.

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Rare Golden Walleye Caught from Oneida Lake