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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
DeSoto Bend Harrison 5 miles west of Missouri Valley 811.00