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 exceed 2-4 lbs


Sauger Distribution

border rivers and lower reaches of their tributaries


fish, other aquatic animals

State Record

6 pounds, 8 ounces - Missouri River, Woodbury County, October1976 - Mrs. W. Buser, Sloan, Iowa

Expert Tip

most sauger are caught near the bottom below a dam, look for large instream structures that divert flow and you will find fish!


Distribution of the sauger in Iowa is primarily limited to the Great Border Rivers and the lower reaches of their tributaries. It is quite abundant in the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

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.

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 91 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 15 inches in length.

The existing world record sauger, taken in North Dakota, topped the scales at 8 pounds, 12 ounces. The Iowa record was caught in the Missouri River, Woodbury County in 1976 and weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces.

Present in these Iowa water bodies:
Lake/Stream County Location Acres/Length
Pool 19, Mississippi River Lee Amenities listed are at City of Ft. Madison boat ramp. Amenities vary by location in Pool 19 33500.00
Pool 13, Mississippi River Clinton Between Bellevue and Clinton, Iowa. Pool 13 Starts at River Mile 556.7 28117.00
Pool 18, Mississippi River Louisa Amenities listed are for the Toolsboro Ramp. The ramp at Toolsboro is paved but the road to the ramp is gravel. There is some shore fishing along the parking area and at the outlet of Lake Odessa. Amenities vary by location in pool 18 13300.00
Pool 16, Mississippi River Scott The amenities list are for Buffalo Shores campground in Buffalo, Iowa. Amenities at other locations in Pool 16 vary by location. 13000.00
Pool 12, Mississippi River Jackson Between Dubuque and Bellevue, Iowa 12349.00
Pool 14, Mississippi River Scott Located between Clinton and Davenport, starts at River Mile 522.5 10291.00
Pool 17, Mississippi River Muscatine Amenities list for Muscatine City Ramp. This ramp is located in downtown Muscatine. Amenities vary by location in Pool 17. 7580.00
Pool 15, Mississippi River Scott Between Davenport, Iowa and Rock Island Illinois. Starts at River Mile 482.9 3626.90
DeSoto Bend at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge Harrison 5 miles west of Missouri Valley at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge 811.00
Big Lake (Lansing) Allamakee 3 m N Lansing 800.00
Maquoketa River (below Monticello) Jackson 82.00
Wapsipinicon River (Oxford Junct to Mississippi R) Scott Wapsi River Environmental Education Center : 31555 52nd Avenue, Dixon, Iowa 52745. Northeast of Dixon along the Wapsi River. And Sherman Park across the River in Clinton County 66.00
Missouri River (Sioux City to Little Sioux) Harrison Chris Larsen Park: 1280 Larsen Park Road/Sioux City, IA. Located on the Sioux City riverfront along the Missouri River. Larsen Park offers 110 acres on the Sioux City Riverfront. Managed by the City of Sioux City. 64.00
Missouri River (Council Bluffs to state line) Fremont Lake Manawa State Park: 1100 South Shore Drive/Council Bluffs, IA 51501 phone: 712-366-0220. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Lake Manawa State Park has boat ramps on the Missouri River within the park. 61.00
Cedar River (La Porte City to Cedar Rapids) Linn This stretch is located in Benton and Linn County. A popular river access is in the Dudgeon Lake Wildlife Area right of Hwy 150 on the North side of Vinton. 56.00
Cedar River (Cedar Rapids to Moscow) Cedar This stretch is found in Linn and Cedar County. A popular access is found in Palisades State Park which is on Hwy 30 between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon. 55.00
Missouri River (Little Sioux to Council Bluffs) Pottawattamie Wilson Island State Recreation Area: 32801 Campground Lane/Missouri Valley, IA 51555 phone-712-642-2069. Managed by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Wilson Island Recreation Area has 544 acres along the Missouri River near Missouri Valley Iowa. 53.00
Gimmel Lake Allamakee 28.00
Martelle Lake Allamakee 24.00
Iowa River (River Junction to Columbus Junction) Louisa River Forks Access : 1001 Main Street, Fredonia, IA 52738 24.00