Sauger vs Saugeye What Is The Difference Between Sauger And Saugeye?

picture of a sauger and a picture of a saugeye

Two of the fish that many anglers confuse with each other are the sauger and the saugeye since these fish hunt the same way, live in the same habitat, and look similar their difficult to tell apart so what is the difference between sauger and saugeye?

Well, when it comes to sauger vs saugeye apart from all their similarities there both different fish species and you can tell them apart by looking at their size, tail, dorsal fin, and body color. Starting with the tail sauger don’t have a white splotch on their tail like the saugeye do.

As for the body color, saugeye are lighter compared to sauger but they both have a white-colored belly and black splotches on the sides of their bodies. Their dorsal fins may look the same but sauger don’t have black streaks on their first dorsal fin like saugeye.

In this article, I go in-depth on the differences between sauger and saugeye from what they eat to what they look like and even where they spawn. I also talk about where you can catch them and how to fish for them so that you can catch saugeye and sauger more often.

By the end of this article, you will learn what the difference is between saugeye and sauger so that you can differentiate them from each other much easier when you catch them.

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Sauger Vs Saugeye What Is the Difference Between Sauger and Saugeye?

If you’ve ever caught a sauger or a saugeye before then you probably have confused them with each other since they look similar and almost seem like they’re the same fish species. But they are not the same fish and even though they may look alike there are more than just a few different things that you can see on them to tell them apart and identify them much easier.

Knowing the correct fish species is important if you fish often, if you happen to catch many sauger and thought that they were saugeye you could accidentally go over the daily bag limit or catch a smaller length saugeye that goes under the length requirement.

The main reason why it’s so difficult to tell the difference between sauger and saugeye is that saugeye are made from a hybrid crossbreed between a female walleye and a male sauger.

This is why they look so similar and why they are named saugeye the combination of names from their parents saug from the sauger and eye from the walleye.

Body Color Difference

picture of sauger and saugeye body color difference

Looking at the body color to distinguish a sauger from a saugeye is one of the first things that I like to do. They both do look alike but if you look closely at them you will find some color differences in specific areas of their bodies that will help you differentiate them much quicker.

Starting with saugeye they usually are lighter than sauger and have more golden and brown colored bodies like their walleye parent. Sauger for the most part are generally darker than saugeye and they have body colors that are grey, brass, brown, and some have almost all black colored bodies with a mix of some dark brown.

Although most of its body is dark the belly of the sauger is lighter and it’s normally colored white or light yellow similar to the belly of a saugeye. Along with that both saugeye and sauger have black splotches all over their bodies that extend to both sides except under their bellies.

These black splotches are one of the main features that make it hard for telling the difference between these two fish species and what confuses most fishermen when they’re trying to identify them from each other.

Since saugeye have lighter colored bodies the black splotches on them are easier to see and stand out more than the black splotches that are on a sauger. But even though saugeye are usually lighter than sauger, depending on the type of water that you are fishing in may determine how light or dark the saugeye will be.

If you are fishing in water that is really murky then saugeye in there are going to be a lot darker compared to if you were fishing in clear water where the lighter saugeye are. The darker saugeye look similar to sauger and so much to the point where you have to look at other parts of its body to be able to identify it.

If you ever catch a saugeye that is very dark then don’t worry because there are still other characteristics that you can take a look at to find out whether you caught a saugeye or sauger.

Saugeye Size And Sauger Size Difference

When it comes to size difference saugeye end up growing bigger than sauger just like walleye do and they get their size from their walleye parent since sauger doesn’t get as big as them.

Saugeye have an average weight of around two to four pounds along with an average length that’s around fifteen to twenty inches long.

Sauger are smaller in size compared to saugeye their average weight is around one to two pounds and they have an average length of nine to thirteen inches. Even with sauger being smaller than saugeye they can still get pretty big and weigh more than eight pounds and get as long as twenty-five inches in length.

Saugeye can get even larger and weigh over fourteen pounds and get thirty inches long so they definitely can get huge but catching one of this size is unlikely. Just like large walleye, big saugeye also grow wider back’s which is a distinct feature that you can use for identifying larger saugeye and sauger from each other.

Identifying a fish by its size is a great way to find out the species of the fish but if you catch a small size saugeye then you will have to look closely at the rest of its fins, tail, and body color to correctly tell it apart from a sauger.

Tail Fin Difference

picture of saugeye and sauger tail fin difference

My favorite way to identify a saugeye from a sauger is by looking at its tail. With walleye being the parent of saugeye, the saugeye also developed the white blotch on their tail just like the one that walleye have on their tail and you can find it at the bottom end of its tail fin.

The white blotch is easy to spot and the size varies usually it covers one-fourth of its bottom tail fin and sometimes more than half of the bottom tail fin. Even then you can still catch an odd saugeye with a smaller-sized white blotch on its tail but if you see it on the lower tail fin of the fish then you caught yourself a saugeye.

This is an excellent way to tell these two fish species apart since sauger do not have a white blotch on the end of their tail fin like the saugeye do but theirs also another great way and that’s by looking at its dorsal fin.

Dorsal Fin Difference

picture of sauger and saugeye tail fin difference

A similar body feature that the saugeye and sauger have is the dorsal fin but if look at it closely enough it can actually help you tell the difference between them. Since their spiny dorsal fins look almost the same this can trick beginner and even intermediate fishermen into misidentifying a saugeye from a sauger.

Not only are their first dorsal fins spiny but they both also have small black spots on them and this can be the tricky part when identifying them if you don’t know what to look for. The dorsal fin of a sauger just has small black spots and this is slightly different compared to the dorsal fin of a saugeye.

Saugeye have a black-streaked dorsal fin and also the same small black spots that sauger have so when you’re identifying them by the dorsal fin look for black streaks lined up along the lines of the dorsal fin. If you don’t see any black streaks and only see that the dorsal fin has black spots then you caught a sauger and not a saugeye.

Remember that the black streaks can still look like black spots so you have to take a good look at the dorsal fin to tell them apart.

What Is A Sauger Fish?

A sauger fish is a Sander Canadensis fish species that’s in the Percidae fish family and in the order of Perciformes. It’s a freshwater fish and most of them can be found all over North America and also in Canada.

This is mainly because sauger migrate to North America more than the rest of all the other fish species in the Percidae family so they are a common fish to catch if you are fishing in North America.

Also since they migrate a lot you can find them in rivers, streams, reservoirs, and lakes like Lake Sakakawea which is in North Dakota and where the world record sauger of eight pounds and twelve ounces was caught.

On top of that sauger are distributed all over the United States and Canada and this is another reason why they are found so commonly there and why they are a popular game fish to fish for. With the help of their pointed-shaped body and experience from migrating a lot, sauger can swim very well through strong river currents to get to their destinations.

What Does A Sauger Look Like?

picture of a sauger
Picture of a sauger

Sauger are long-bodied fish that have two dorsal fins their second or back dorsal is soft rayed but their first dorsal fin is spiny rayed. Another thing about their first dorsal fin apart from it being spiny is that it has black spots all over it.
Since its top jaw extends almost all the way to its eyes it’s able to open its mouth pretty wide. They have canine-like teeth on both their upper and lower jaws and their teeth can get quite big as they grow into adults.

They can be colored brass, grey, black, and brown, so their body is dark-colored for the most part except for their belly section that’s white and it also has black splotches all over the sides of their body.

Its tail fin is forked and they have scales on their cheeks that have a rough texture. The type of scales that sauger have are ctenoid scales and these scales have spines on the outer edge of them and that’s what makes them feel rough when they’re handled.

What Is A Saugeye Fish?

A saugeye fish is a Stizostedion vitreus x Stizostedion Canadense fish species and it’s in the Percidae fish family. It’s a hybrid fish that’s made from a crossbreed between a female walleye and a male sauger and just like its parents it’s also a freshwater fish and they can be found in walleye and sauger habitats which are rivers, lakes, streams, and reservoirs.

Although saugeye can be found all over the United States since they are stocked by many states for game fishing the chances for a male sauger and a female walleye to hybrid crossbreed with each other naturally to make a saugeye is only two to three percent so most saugeye that are caught are stocked saugeye.

Since saugeye can grow quicker and live in reservoirs much easier than walleye some states like Ohio have even replaced their walleye stockings with saugeye stockings to enhance the game fishing experience for all types of fishers.
Ohio also happens to be where the world record saugeye was caught and it was a twelve-pound and thirteen-ounce saugeye that was caught in the Clendening reservoir.

What Does A Saugeye Look Like?

picture of a big saugeye
Picture of a saugeye

Saugeye look like a mix between a walleye and a sauger since they are made from a hybrid crossbreed between them. Sauger and saugeye have the same two dorsal fins, a spiny rayed first dorsal fin and a second soft rayed dorsal fin but the first dorsal fin of a saugeye is black streaked and also black-spotted.

This fish is usually colored gold or brown like walleye and it has black splotches on its body like a sauger along with the same white-colored stomach that both its parents have. It has a big mouth that opens wide and the same canine-like teeth that sauger have. Also, their tail fin has a white blotch at the bottom end of it and they get this feature from their walleye parent.

What Do Sauger And Saugeye Eat?

Sauger and saugeye eat the same things, as soon as they hatch they will eat zooplankton and crustaceans like most fish. When they are younger and somewhat small in size they will eat insect invertebrates like worms, mayflies, leeches, and also crayfish.

As they grow bigger they will start to eat smaller size fish like sunfish, yellow perch, gizzard shad, minnows, and shiners. Once the saugeye and sauger grow into adults and get large they will start to eat freshwater drum fish, crappie, channel catfish, and the rest of the smaller fish that they ate before when they were younger.

When Do Saugeye Spawn?

Saugeye spawn near the same time that sauger spawn and that’s around early to late springtime when the water starts to get warm in March to May.

When saugeye spawn they lay their eggs upstream in the river to be fertilized as salmon do. They usually lay the eggs in water temperatures that are around forty to fifty degrees Fahrenheit near dams and on rocks where the eggs will stick and then they swim back down to the lakes and rivers from where they came from around April to July.

What makes saugeye so unique and different from sauger is that even though saugeye are a hybrid fish species they can still spawn, unlike most hybrid fish. The fish that saugeye can reproduce with are walleye and sauger which are the parents of saugeye.

When Do Sauger Spawn?

Sauger spawn around the springtime like saugeye do throughout March to May and this is one of the things that’s similar about them apart from their many differences. Not only do they spawn around the same time but they also like to lay their eggs upstream of the river on rocks and in similar warm water temperatures of around forty degrees Fahrenheit.

It usually takes around ten days for their eggs to hatch and just one female sauger can lay up to fifty thousand eggs which is amazing. When it comes to the younger fry of the sauger they do not keep them safe from other fish predators so their young are left to fend off for themselves once they hatch.

When sauger are done spawning they will swim anywhere between six to over three hundred miles to return home to the rivers and lakes where the deeper water is.

Where Can You Catch Saugeye And Sauger?

Saugeye and sauger can be found all over the United States of America including North Dakota, Mississippi, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. They’re also in many parts of Canada like Manitoba so they are a widely known fish species that are popular to fish for.

You can catch saugeye and sauger near sandbar banks where the clear water meets the murky water river. Also, a feeder creek going into a river makes a great saugeye fishing spot since that’s where baitfish will be flowing through and where the sauger and saugeye will be waiting for the baitfish to eat them.

Saugeye and sauger are ambush predators that will hunt by ambushing their prey so they will be hiding at the bottom in the rocks where it’s deep. They also like to hide in current seams which is where the fast-moving water meets the slack water to ambush their prey.

Anywhere that has walleye is also another excellent fishing spot for catching sauger and saugeye since they all live in the same habitat. So if you’ve ever caught a walleye in a lake or a river before then fishing there could land you some saugeye and sauger.

If your going to be fishing on a rocky bottom for saugeye or sauger make sure you bring a good amount of jigs with you because it’s most likely that some jigs could be lost while you are fishing them.

How To Fish For Sauger And Saugeye?

Apart from sauger and saugeye having almost the same appearance they can also be caught in a similar manner since they like to swim in the same warm waters, hunt in the same way, and spawn around the same time which is around March to May.

Saugeye and sauger are bottom-dwelling fish so using a jigging lure is going to be the best way to catch them since the bottom is where they will be hunting for their prey and waiting to strike.

When I’m fishing for sauger and saugeye I like to use a 1/8 ounce jig head with a three-inch soft plastic bait hooked onto it to vertical jig for them. The line to use for this fishing application is an eight-pound test monofilament line.

As for the rod, a medium to medium-fast action rod with a length of six to seven feet is excellent for catching saugeye and sauger so that you are able to feel bites much quicker. With this setup, you’ll be able to feel the vibrations of your jig while it moves through water and hits the bottom.

There are a couple of techniques that will work better than others for fishing saugeye and sauger but depending on the time that you are fishing in will determine which one to use.

During the summertime, I like to use the yo-yo technique, once you cast your bait to the bottom the way you will use this technique will be by keeping your bait while raising your rod upward and then lowering your rod and reeling in at the same time and going up and down repeating the same process.

The benefit of reeling down to your lure is so that your line is never slack and doing this will help you not miss as many bites and also catch much more sauger and saugeye. In the fall to wintertime when the water starts to get colder, the slow roll technique works best since that’s around the time when these fish like a slow-moving bait.

After you cast out your bait, reel in slowly with your rod pointing down towards the water. Doing this will make your bait bounce on top of the rocks to get their attention even more and increase strikes.

Although it seems like less work will be needed for fishing these two fish species since you can use the same technique and the same type of lure and rod for catching saugeye and sauger theirs also a downside.

And that downside is that you’re going to have a harder time if you’re trying to catch specifically a sauger and not a saugeye. So if you’re ever going out to fish for sauger mainly you can expect to catch some saugeye during that fishing trip.

What Is the Biggest Saugeye Ever Caught?

The biggest saugeye ever caught was a saugeye that had a weight of twelve pounds and thirteen ounces. This saugeye was caught by an angler named Fred Sulek at the Clendening reservoir in Ohio on November 19, 2001, and is the world record saugeye. Not only do saugeye grow bigger than sauger but they grow quicker too.

Although this is the current world record that has been recorded and verified there has been an unverified saugeye record and this saugeye supposedly had a weight of fifteen pounds and ten ounces which is way larger than the world record saugeye from Ohio.

It was said to have been caught at the Fort Peck reservoir in Montana but since it wasn’t verified it could still be a false record so the world record saugeye from Ohio still holds as the current one.

What Is the Biggest Sauger Ever Caught?

The biggest sauger ever caught weighed eight pounds and twelve ounces. It’s a world record sauger that was caught at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota on October 6, 1971, by an angler named Mike Fischer.

An eight-pound sauger might seem like a medium-size fish but since saugers don’t grow as big as saugeye this is actually an incredibly large-sized sauger compared to their average size of one to two pounds.

Catching a sauger that weighs over nine pounds would be an amazing catch because doing that will break the world record for the biggest sauger ever caught but finding one will be a hard task especially since it’s been nearly five decades and that world record still hasn’t been beaten which is unbelievable.

Do Sauger and Saugeye Taste the Same?

Yes, sauger and saugeye do taste the same and this is mainly because sauger is the male parent of saugeye so they are a related fish species. Not only do they taste the same but they also fight like channel catfish so they put up a tough fight once you get them on a hook.

If you haven’t tasted these two fish but have tasted walleye the taste is similar but saugeye and sauger are a bit more sweet and fishy compared to walleye. Also, walleye meat is firmer whereas sauger and saugeye meat have a bit of a muddy taste.

All in all sauger and saugeye taste great their white meat has a combination of a slightly fishy and sweet flavor which makes its firm meat even tastier. What I like about sauger and saugeye is that their meat is easy to cook and these fish can be cooked in a variety of ways.

I like to grill them and squeeze some lemon on top when I’m in a hurry since it’s a quick and simple meal to make but here below are other ways for cooking saugeye and sauger that you can try.

  • Grilled
  • Pan-seared
  • Poached
  • Air fried
  • Oven-baked

What Colors Do Saugeye And Sauger See?

The colors that saugeye and sauger see the best are oranges, greens, and also yellows. If you are fishing in clear water conditions during the daytime when the sun’s out then these are the colors that you will want your lure to have and that will stand out the most out of the rest.

Reds, Blues, and purples are the colors that saugeye and sauger have a harder time seeing even in clear waters so if you are fishing for them, these are colors that you wouldn’t want your lure to have since they don’t see these colors very well.

Lure color is an important factor if your targeting a specific fish species like sauger and saugeye but fishing in murky water or deep water will make it more difficult for the fish to see the color of your lure.

Remember that color isn’t the only thing you have to look for in a lure when you’re looking for the perfect saugeye lure. What the type of lure is also matters as much as the color especially if you are fishing in deeper waters.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, when it comes to sauger vs saugeye they both look almost the same since they’re a related fish species but they’re different fish species that have many similarities and a few differences.

Now that you know the difference between sauger and saugeye whenever you catch either one of them you’ll have a less difficult time telling them apart from each other.