Stizostedion canadense
Sauger

Sauger

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The natural history of the northwoods

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Name:

  • Stizostedion, "pungent throat"
  • canadense, "of Canada"
  • Common name
  • Other common names include: Eastern Sauger, Grey Pike, Horsefish, Jack, Jackfish, Jack Salmon, Pickerel, Pickering, Pike Perch, River Pike, Sand Pickerel, Sand Pike, Softfin Pike, Spotted Trout, doré noir (Fr)

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
    • Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone,
      • Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
      • Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
      • Subclass Neopterygii
      • Infraclass Teleostei
        • Superorder Acanthopterygii,
        • Order Perciformes, the perch-like fishes
        • Suborder Percoidei
          • Family Percidae, the true perches
            • Genus Stizostedion, the pike perches

Description:

  • A member of the perch family and a smaller, slimmer relative of the Walleye, which it closely resembles.
  • Length
  • Weight
    • seldom exceeds 2-4 lbs.
  • Coloration
    • back and sides olive to a dull brown or grey, flecked with yellow
    • flanks marked by 3-4 dark colored blotches or "saddles", extending down the sides
    • underside white; white color of belly extending to tip of tail, but coloration does not spread out at the end of the tail and form a definite white tip as it does on Walleye.
    • 2 or 3 rows of black dots on the forward dorsal fin
    • large black blotch at the base of the pectoral fin.
  • Body
    • long, slender, almost cylindrical
    • dorsal fin of 17-19 rays
    • anal fin of 11-12 rays
    • lateral line of 85-9l scales
    • approximately 15 rows of scales cover the cheeks
  • Head
    • long and cone-shaped
    • eyes large and glossy, their silvery iridescence the result of a layer of light-reflecting tissue that increases vision during twilight and night.
    • teeth sharp
    Lifespan

Identification:

  • Very similar to Walleye in habitat, diet and range, but smaller.
  • Distinguished from its larger cousin by:
    • the presence of rough scales on its cheeks (Walleye is smooth cheeked).
    • two or three rows of distinct black spots resembling half-moons on its spiny forward dorsal fin.
    • lack of a black pigment blotch near the base of the last few spines of the first dorsal fin
    • lack of a white patch on lower tip of tail
  • Field Marks
    • numerous sharp teeth
    • saddle blotches
    • cylinder-like shape

Distribution:

  • In Canada these fish are found from the St. Lawrence-Champlain river system westward to the North Saskatchewan River and northward to the Hudson Bay watershed.

Habitat:

  • Prefers large, turbid, shallow lakes and large, silty, slow-flowing 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.
  • Prefers current and darker water than the walleye; likes hard bottoms
  • Not particular about water clarity, it is often found in muddy rivers.

Foods:

  • Adults live largely on fish, crayfish, other crustaceans, and insects.
  • Young feed extensively on midgefly larvae and, as they become older, on immature and adult mayflies.

History:

  • U.S. Record: 8lb, 12oz, Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, 1971
  • Minnesota Record: 6lb, 3oz, from Mississippi River (Goodhue County)

Uses:

  • Like Walleye, an important commercial and game fish. The species is harvested commercially in parts of Canada.
  • Not prominent as a game fish due to its small average size.
  • Slower growing than Walleye, most taken by anglers are under 15" in length.

Reproduction:

  • Spawns April through early May. Spawning habits very similar to Walleye.
  • Eggs are deposited at random, fertilized, and left unattended.
  • Incubation complete in 12-18 days depending on water temperature.
  • Young Sauger reach a length of about 2"-4" the first year and mature in their third or fourth year of life.

Comments:

  • Poor Sauger -- always in the shadow of its larger cousin. So much so that it can hardly be spoken of but in reference to the walleye.

Links:

  • Sauger, from the Minnesota DNR

Boreal border

Last updated on 6 November 1999