What it looks like

  • large, elongated body
  • grey to brown back with 3-4 darker brown saddles
  • paler sides, often with darker brown blotches or round spots
  • white belly
  • distinct blotches or bands on adults
  • lacks the walleye’s white tip on lower tail fin
  • spots on dorsal fin, unlike walleye
  • separate spiny and soft dorsal fins
  • large mouth extends below back edge of pupil

Size

  • length: 25-41 centimetres (10-16 inches)
  • weight: 0.2-0.9 kilograms (0.5-2 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 2.0 kilograms (4.4 pounds)

Similar fish

Where it’s found

Range of the Sauger in Ontario

Range

  • throughout Ontario, especially central, northeastern and northwestern Ontario
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers

Habitat

Sauger and its cousin, the walleye, enjoy similar habitats:

  • murky lakes and large rivers
  • soft mud bottoms to flooded timber, rubble or bedrock
  • preferred cover – weed, wood, rock

Angling tips

  • walleye avoid light—best times to fish are morning and evening, and cloudy or overcast days
  • take almost any bait or lure in spring, and feed well in fall
  • more challenging to catch in summer
  • cast or troll with spinners or minnow-imitating plugs
  • troll with worm harness rigs of spinners and beads

Common baits

  • jigs tipped with soft plastics, live bait or bucktail
  • minnow imitating plugs
  • minnows, earthworms, crayfish

Photos/images

Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)

Updated: May 14, 2021
Published: July 18, 2014