How to Tell the Difference Between a Walleye & a Sauger


Sauger and walleyes are so similar in appearance that many fishermen cannot tell them apart. The cousins have the same body shape, occupy the same habitats, bite on the same lures, and even taste the same when prepared for the table. While the two often are found in the same water bodies, walleyes can tolerate a wide range of water conditions and therefore have a wider natural range. There are a couple of things fishermen should look for when determining if a fish is a walleye or sauger.

  • Look at the dorsal fin, which is the first fin on the fish's back after its head. If there are spots on the dorsal fin, the fish is a sauger. If there are no spots, it is a walleye.

  • Observe the back of the dorsal fin where it attaches to the fish's back. If there is a dark area, the fish is a walleye. If there is no dark area, it is a sauger.

  • Take note of the tail. If there is a white spot on the bottom of the tail, the fish is a walleye. If there is no white spot, the fish is a sauger.

  • Pay attention to the shape of the body. Sauger tend to have slimmer bodies than walleyes.

  • Check the cheeks. Sauger have scales on their cheeks, while the cheeks of walleyes are smooth.

  • Survey the sides of the fish. Sauger have dark blotches on the sides of their body. Walleyes do not have such markings.

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  • Photo Credit Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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