Sauger coloration is brassy or olive gray flecked with yellow on the back and sides and white or cream colored on the belly. Three to four large dark brown to black splotches called saddles cover the sides. Body is elongate and nearly cylindrical. The head and mouth are large, with the mouth extending past the middle of the eye. The head is pointed. Sauger have large, sharp teeth. There are two, separate dorsal fins, the first having round black spots and spines and the second having two light, narrow bands and soft rays. Sauger have large, glossy eyes that see very well in dark or muddy waters.
Sauger are mostly bottom feeders. The majority of their diet consists of fishes such as shad, sunfish, and minnows. They will also eat insects, leeches, and crayfish. Young sauger eat mainly aquatic insects such as midgeflys and mayflies.
Sauger are native to only North America. They are found in a wide band across the north mid-central North America from Quebec to Alberta, then in a progressively slimmer band further south down through the Mississippi River drainage system, from Arkansas to northern Alabama and Tennessee.
Sauger prefer large, muddy lakes and rivers. They are more prevalent in slow-moving rivers but, because they are more tolerant of heavy current than the closely related walleye, they can also be found in faster moving rivers. Lakes that sauger inhabit tend to be shallow.
Sauger are described as coolwater species, thriving at temperatures too warm for coldwater fishes, such as trout and salmon, and too cold for warmwater fishes, such as sunfish and catfish. The ideal temperature range for sauger is from 62 to 72 F.
- Sauger are closely related to walleye, but are much smaller on average.
- The all-tackle world record is 8 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in North Dakota in 1971.
- The saugeye, Stizostedion vitreum, is a hybrid-cross between a sauger and a walleye that can occur naturally, though most populations are the result of stocking efforts with hatchery-raised fish.