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Ask Eric:
What is a sauger? One guy told me it's a cross between a walleye and a yellow perch. -- Chuck Welch, Kalamazoo.

He's wrong. It's a separate species (Sander canadensis) that's closely related to the walleye (Sander vitreus). Walleyes and sauger recently were moved into the genus Sander along with European zander (Sander lucioperca).

It's easy to tell sauger and walleyes apart -- sauger have spots on their spiny forward dorsal (top) fin and walleyes don't.

Sauger run smaller than walleyes and prefer slightly warmer and murkier water. While they are common in parts of big rivers like the Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio, sauger probably were never common in Michigan streams, which are mostly too cool or too clear.

Today, nearly all Michigan sauger come from Lake Erie, and I suspect that many anglers who catch sauger there think they're skinny, undersized walleyes.

The fish that does sometimes look like a cross between a walleye and a perch is the saugeye, a cross between a female walleye and male sauger that is produced and stocked in several states, including Ohio. This hybrid grows quickly to a size between the two parent species, so it is a popular stocking species for turbid inland lakes.
 
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