Sauger fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
The sauger's native range is southern Canada east to New England, south to Arkansas and Tennessee, and west to Montana and Wyoming. In Wyoming, it is found in the Wind-Bighorn drainage, Clear Creek in Sheridan County, and the Tongue River. Sauger were native to the North Platte drainage but have apparently disappeared from the stream. Preferred habitat includes larger streams and associated reservoirs. Young sauger feed on aquatic insects and crustaceans while large sauger primarily eat fish. Spawning takes place in the spring when water temperatures reach forty- three degrees Fahrenheit. Eggs are deposited randomly and are left unattended to hatch.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The sauger - Sander canadensis, also called a sand pike is a freshwater perciform fish of the
Perch family Percidae which resembles its close relative the walleye. Saugers, however, are usually smaller and will better tolerate waters of higher turbidity than will the Walleye. In many parts of their range, saugers are sympatric with walleyes. The sauger is widely distributed throughout Canada and the Mississippi River basin and introduced in Atlantic slope tributaries. In Alabama it is known only from the Tennessee River drainage.
Sauger are long and thin, with dark backs, brassy sides, dark spots, and a pale belly. They have a forked tail with a pale streak on the bottom edge. Some sauger have a black spot on their body near where pectoral fin attaches. Sauger are usually less than 3 pounds and 18 inches in length. Gray or brown on their backs, sauger have an orangy metallic sheen on their sides, light undersides, and black spots. Saddle-like markings on body, black dots on the dorsal (back) fin, large glossy eyes, and sharp teeth.
The sauger is a large species of the family Percidae prized for its sport fishing character and its flavor. Cylindirical in body form, the sauger has a large horizontal mouth and well-developed pointed teeth. The back and top of the head are mottled brown to golden olive, the lips are less mottled and appear distinctly speckled, and the lower sides and venter are white or light cream. Four dark saddles traverse the back and may be expanded along the sides to produce large lateral blotches, while the back and sides are variously speckled with pigment. The lining in the eye behind the retina appears silver, a trait characteristic of the genus and presumably an adaptation for night feeding. Membranes of the spiny dorsal fin have distinct spots that sometimes appear to be banding, while the soft dorsal fin and caudal fin rays are definitely pigmented, producing delicate banding. The sauger can be distinguished from the walleye, Stizostedion vitreum, by its fewer (17 to 20) soft dorsal rays (19 to 22 for the walleye), by lacking a pigment concentration at the spiny dorsal fin base, and by having the lower lobe of the caudal fin mottled, compared to a white tip for the walleye.
Adult saugers feed primarily on fish, crayfish, and other crustaceans and insects. The habitat of sauger is much like that of walleye, except that saugers are more tolerant of high turbidity (muddy water) and strong current. Saugers spawn when water temperature is between 41 and 45 F. Adults enter backwaters or tributaries and search for gravel or rock substrate where they can deposit their eggs. Saugers are an important sportfish on the Missouri River. The flesh tastes like walleye and thus is highly valued. Saugers grow more slowly than walleyes; most fish taken by anglers are less than 18 inches in length.
They may be distinguished from walleyes by the distinctly spotted dorsal fin, by the lack of a white splotch on the caudal fin, by the rough skin over their gill, and by their generally more brassy color, or darker (almost black) color in some regions. The average sauger in an angler's creel is up to 1 lbs (300 to 400 g) in weight but the world record was 17 lbs (8 kg) Saugers are more typical of rivers whereas walleyes are more common in lakes and reservoirs. The sauger is highly prized as a food fish.
Large, silvery eye.
Large sharp teeth and anterior dorsal fin with spines.
Dark, mottled coloration often present on sides.
Black spots on dorsal fin.
Distinguished from walleye by black spots on dorsal fin and wider head.
DisDistinguished from walleye by lack of white tip on tail.
Sauger prefer cloudy, moving water. In Minnesota, they are found mainly in lakes along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border and in Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake and other large northern lakes. They also frequent the Minnesota, Rainy Mississippi, and St. Croix rivers. The sauger is found in quiet backwaters over sand, mud, or bedrock substrates, usually at tributary mouths and in deeper tailwaters over rock and rubble substrate downstream of dams.
Young sauger eat zooplankton and insect larvae. Adults also eat fish, leeches, and crayfish.
The sauger prefers large rivers but may also be found in reservoirs. The fish is tolerant of turbid waters. In rivers the key component of sauger habitat is velocity. In the summer and spring they select low velocity areas having sand or silt substrates. Pool habitats are preferred by sauger especially in winter where they tend to select low velocity pools greater than 6 feet deep.
Sauger spawn in spring in water 2 to 8 feet deep. The female lays 15,000 to 40,000 eggs for each pound of her body weight. Young sauger hatch after 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the water temperature.
Spawning occurs from April through May in a variety of places with the tailwater areas providing good spawning habitat, as observed in the sport catch during this time of the year. Individuals taken on hook and line are generally 2 pounds or less, but may reach 5 pounds. Small sauger feed on microcrustaceans and aquatic insect larvae, while large adults feed almost exclusively on fish, including young walleye and saugers,
Yellow Perch, and, in northern states, trout-perch and burbots.
When water temperatures reach the mid-40s, the adults migrate into tributary streams or backwaters to spawn in shallow water with rocky or gravel bottoms. A 3-pound female will produce about 50,000 eggs, which are deposited randomly and left unattended until they hatch.
Sauger Fishing Tips: Using an ultra light reel and rod will add to the fun of Sauger fishing. Small size Sauger will strike the same as small
pan fish. Larger Sauger will strike the same as a big
Walleye. Bottom fishing or bobber fishing both work well. Using a small jig with a worm can result with hours of fun on any Sauger fishing trip. Better fishing success will be close to water falls or white water. Time of day doesn’t seem to bother this type of fish, from spring to a hot summer days this fish seems ready for a fight from any age angler.Check your fishing guide for size and creel limits in some states it may be the same as Walleye.
When it is that cold, my lure choice is a bucktail jig. I tie my own jigs in a variety of colors and sizes. White with a brown back, yellow, or lime green are great choices. As spring approaches, a soft rose color is good. In the more still water, a 1/32 oz. head with a three or four inch hair body works great. I mold the tiny heads on size 1 or 1/0 hooks for better hooksets. A seven to nine foot graphite spinning rod with a small reel spooled with 4 - 6 lb test line is the ticket. The lightweight jig can be bounced over the tops of the huge rip-rap rocks which line the banks. The best way to describe the strike of a sauger is to compare it to a bass taking a worm or jig. A solid 'thump' is telegraphed to the angler's hand.
Great rods for Sauger fishing are:
11ft Telescopic Casting Carbon Rod,
18ft Telescopic Spinning Rod,
12ft Telescopic Casting Light Rod,
28ft Telescopic Carbon Pole,
23ft Fishing Pole Whip
Freshwater Fish Species
The Perch family species
Saltwater Fish Species