Difference Between Sauger and Walleye

Sauger vs Walleye

Sauger and walleye are two species of the same genus and they both are extremely similar looking except for few externally exhibited signs of differences between them. However, it would be difficult to identify them apart for a casual observer due to the close resemblance of these fishes. This article intends to summarize their characteristics and emphasize the difference between a sauger and a walleye.


Sauger is a freshwater fish species, Sander canadensis, of the taxonomic Order: Perciformes. Sauger is a highly migratory fish species in North America, and they can travel up to 600 kilometres to find good spawning grounds. They swim downstream in finding the breeding grounds and swim upstream for the feeding grounds. Saugers were usually found in rivers of the southern, central, and western parts of the United States and in southern Canada, but now they are widely distributed in North American rivers.

Sauger’s fusiform body helps them to swim fast through the currents with the minimum effort. Additionally, their body shape is very helpful for the food habits of preying on other small fishes and invertebrates. One of the most important features of saugers is the spotted dorsal fin, which has a spiny appearance. The skin around gills is rough in saugers, and their colour pattern is mostly dark coloured with some areas in the upper half of each side being almost black. They reach sexual maturity at around 2 – 5 years of age and can live about 10 – 15 years, and the recorded maximum age is 18 years in wild.


Walleye is a perciform fish species, Sander vitreus, found in freshwater lakes and reservoirs, in Canada and northern parts of the United States. Walleye is sometimes called as the yellow pike, coloured pike or pickerel, which is mainly due to their close relationship with the European pikeperch. Walleye is also known as doré meaning gold in French, which is due to its golden to olive colouration.

Walleye’s olive-gold colouration is accompanied with some dark shades that fade towards the belly region. The white spot on the lower tip of the caudal fin is one of the most important features in colourations that enable identifying a walleye. There are no black spots on the dorsal fin, and the spines of that fin do not appear to be pointed as in saugers. They migrate for spawning in late winter into tributary streams and the eggs hatch in about 12 – 30 days. The juveniles swim downstream into feeding grounds as they grow. These carnivorous fish can live about 20 – 25 years in wild, and they are about 20 pounds of weight by that time.

What is the difference between Sauger and Walleye?

• Sauger has a wider distribution compared to walleye.

• Sauger is commonly found in rivers while walleye mostly prefers lakes and reservoirs.

• Sauger is more migratory than walleyes.

• Sauger has black spots on the dorsal fin but not in walleye.

• Walleye has a white spot on the lower tip of the caudal fin but, not in sauger.

• Spines of the dorsal fin are more pointed in sauger than in walleye.

• Walleye can live more than sauger.

• Walleye is golden to olive in colouration while sauger has a prominent dark shade.

• Sauger is more adaptive to many environments than walleye is.

• Sauger swims downstream for spawning, whereas walleye swim upstream for breeding.


Read more:

1. Difference Between Marlin and Sailfish and Swordfish

2. Difference Between Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes

3. Difference Between Male and Female Fish

4. Difference Between Koi and Carp

5. Difference Between Crayfish and Crawfish

6. Difference Between Sea Trout and Salmon