Characteristics - usually olive-gray on back with white belly; back crossed with 3-4 dark saddles extending down sides; 2-3 rows of black dots on the anterior dorsal fin; large, glossy eyes and sharp teeth; seldom exceeding 2-3 lbs.
Distribution - Same areas that walleyes would inhabit.
Foods - fish, other aquatic animals.
Expert's Tip - Most sauger are caught near the bottom below a dam, or below a set of falls/rapids. Look for large instream structures that divert flow and you will find fish!
Other names -- Little sauger, gray sauger
The body of the sauger is long and cylindrical. The body color is usually olive-gray. The back is crossed with 3 to 4 dark saddles, which extend down the sides. The white color of the belly extends to the tip of the tail, but the coloration does not spread out at the end of the tail and form a definite white tip as it does on walleye. In some of the more turbid rivers in Manitoba the Sauger has an extremely washed out appearance (near silver/white). many of the tell tale markings are very hard to distinguish.
There are 2 or 3 rows of black dots on the first dorsal fin and a large black blotch at the base of the pectoral fin. There are 17 to 19 rays in the dorsal fin and 11 or 12 in the anal fin. The lateral line has 85 to 9l scales. Approximately 15 rows of scales cover the cheeks. It does not reach the size of walleye, seldom exceeding 2 to 4 pounds.
The sauger is not choosy in its choice of clear waters and is often found in muddy rivers. It has a definite preference for larger rivers and spends much of its life there except during the spawning season, when it ascends tributary streams or enters backwaters in search of suitable spawning habitat. Reproduction takes place in April through early May. Their spawning habits are very similar to those of walleye. Eggs are deposited at random, fertilized and left unattended. Incubation is completed in 12 to 18 days depending on water temperature. Young sauger reach a length of about 2 to 4 inches the first year and mature in their third or fourth year of life. Adult sauger live largely upon fish, crayfish, other crustaceans and insects. The young feed extensively on midgefly larvae and, as they become older, on immature and adult mayflies. It is a slower growing fish than walleye. Most fish taken by anglers are less than 13-15 inches in length.
The Sauger is harvested commercially in Manitoba. Their range is far more extensive than normally indicated. It is in some of these locations eg. the Burntwood and Grass rivers have fish of monstrous proportions. Local anglers have filleted fish in the 3-4lb range and have thought they were average Walleye!