Sauger (Sander canadensis)

Fish of the Mississippi River


Sauger are the smaller, slow-growing cousin of the revered walleye. It pursues small fish and takes the same bait and lures as walleye. Its vision in murky water is even more acute than walleyes, thanks to a more uniformly developed reflective layer (tapetum lucidum) that gives the glassy look to their eyes.

Sauger feed aggressively during the daytime, which makes it popular with anglers. Many people find it as tasty as walleye. A North American native, its population is stable through most of its range.

Fascinating Facts

  • In the early 1900s, sauger was considered the same species as walleye.
  • Sauger are also called sand pike, spotfin pike, and river pike.


Key ID Features: The sauger is gray to dark silver or yellowish brown with dark blotches on sides. It looks similar to a walleye but has distinctive rows of spots on the dorsal fin. It lacks the walleye’s prominent white tip on the lower fin tail and dark spot at the back base of the dorsal fin. The average sauger reaches 12-13 inches in length.
Present in Park: Yes
Habitat: Large lakes and rivers
MN Status: Sport fish

For Further Reading

Last updated: November 22, 2019

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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