After my recent trip to Lake of the Woods, many people commented on my Facebook and blog photos, and I never realized how many people don’t know the difference. They are both in the same family, I guess you could call them cousins. Walleye and sauger are very similar and both are exceptional table fare. But in many states, the limit is different for walleye and sauger. At Lake of the Woods, anglers can keep 4 walleyes and 2 saugers (a 6 fish limit) or all 6 can be saugers. For identification, you need to keep a one-inch square of skin on the walleyes, and filet the saugers with the full skin AND tail still attached so it can be identified as one. Otherwise, the game warden will count those as walleyes, and you could be in for an over-limit violation. So it pays to know the difference.
1. The dorsal fin (spiny fin on top of the fish) on a sauger has black spots. A walleye does not, and the pieces of skin in between the last 2 spines are solid black.
2. The tail of a walleye is white on the lower fin. A sauger does not have that.
3. Saugers are typically smaller than walleye. A 16 inch sauger is considered big.
4. Lastly, a mature sauger is “blotchy” with shades of black. Walleyes are more consistent and “gold”, not “blotchy”.
Take a look at these photos and see if you can tell which is which…