How to tell the difference between Walleye and Sauger

What Are The Differences Between A Walleye And Sauger

There are very few differences between the Walleye and Sauger and the easiest way to tell them apart is by looking at their Dorsal and Caudal (tail) Fins.

The Walleye & The Sauger

Both these species of fish have a lot in common and are very good to eat. The Walleye and Sauger are; similar in color, have a long and roundish body, have a forked tail, are sensitive to bright light, and have a very good low-light vision. Thus giving them a big advantage on their favorite prey the perch.

How To Tell A Walleye & Sauger Apart

The best way in telling these fish apart is by spreading the Dorsal fin out and looking for the rolls of black spots between each spine. Then take a look at the tail to see if there is a white spot in the outer lower corner or a white line running along the entire bottom. click on the picture below to enlarge.

1W. The Walleye has a white corner on the lower part of the tail.
1S. The Sauger has a white line running along the lower part of the tail.

2W. Walleyes are golden in color with a white belly and dark back.
2S. Sauger are golden with black blotches in color with a white belly and dark back.

3W. Walleyes do NOT have black spots on their Dorsal or Adipose Fins.
3S. Sauger HAVE black spots layered between the spines of their Dorsal & Adipose Fins.

4W. The Walleye is a larger fish and will grow up to 20 pounds.
4S. The Sauger is a smaller fish and will grow up to 5 pounds.

Where You Can Find Sauger

The Sauger’s distribution is much more limited then the Walleyes. In Minnesota you will find Sauger in; Lake of the Woods, Rainy Lake, Lake Kabetogama, Lake St. Croix, and the Minnesota & Mississippi Rivers. In Wisconsin you will find Sauger in the Chippewa & Mississippi Rivers, and in Lake Eire, where the Ohio DNR have been working hard to bring back the Sauger population.

Bandit Crankbait Review- Walleyes, Bass, & Crappies

The Bandit Lure

The Bandit Crankbait comes in 3 different series (100, 200, 300) and covers depths of 2-5 feet, 4-8 feet, and 8-12 feet. By using a lighter weight line or longer distances by trolling you can get these lures to dive even deeper. The best action comes when pausing the retrieval once your Bandit has reached its maximum depth, then starting your retrieval again. These lures also work great in heavy cover areas such as wood, stumps, and rocks, you just need to slow down your retrieval and work the lure through it.

There are many other crankbaits that will also catch fish, however, the shape of the Bandit seems to produce more fish caught when it comes to the strike to catch ratio. On many of my crankbaits too often the fish does not get hooked once it strikes, however, I have found with the Bandit’s shape it seems to hook the fish at a much higher percentage.

Bandit vs the Countdown

Another successful lure I use for Walleyes are Countdowns, however, there are advantages to using the Bandits. The disadvantage of the Count-down is that you have to wait for the lure to sink to the desired depth and due to its light weight you can not toss it as far. The Bandit 100 & 200 series weights in at 1/4 oz where the 300 series weights 3/8 oz allowing a much further cast, they are approximately 2″ long. You will increase your strikes by pausing the lure for a few seconds once it reached its maximum depth, allowing the lure to slowly rise, then dive again once you restart your retrieval.

Bandit’s Only Disadvantage

At 1/4 and 3/8 ounces the Bandits are still very light compared to much heavier Crankbaits or Top water baits, so they will not toss as far. You can improve you distance by lighter weight line and a better rod & reel.

Bandit Series To Use

These lures are good for Spring, Summer, and Fall, but you will need to change between the 100, 200, and 300 series depending on the water temperature and season.

The 100 series is great for Spring Bass and Summer Crappies working in shallow water during the early morning and evening hours.

The 200 series comes into play in the early Summer through Fall, when the bass are just off the weed-line and the Walleyes are suspended 8-11 feet down. Use this lure early in the morning before the sun is too high and in the evening when the sun starts to set.

The 300 series works great during the Summer daylight hours when the water temperatures have warmed up and the fish have moved to deep water. Focus on the steeper drop-offs for both the Bass and Walleyes. In this video I was fishing at noon on a 17 ft drop-off and catching Bass. The lure weights 3/8 oz and dives 8 -12 feet.


If I were to choose one series that works best for all seasons and depths, it would be the 200 series. This seems to be the most consistent at catching bass and suspended walleyes.

What Colors To Use

Colors will vary depending on the live bait in the lake and its water clarity. Study the lake habitat, type of minnows, and the color of the crabs in the lake. This will give you a good idea of what colors lures to focus on. For example, on my lake the crabs are blue with bright orange and I found the Bandit 200 series Humble Bee to work the best for both Bass and Walleyes.

Fishing Summer Walleyes – Mid West Outdoors

Summer Fishing For Walleyes

When the days have turned hot and the lake water has warmed up you will need to change your patterns for Walleyes. By patterns I mean the bait you use, the areas you fish, and the depth of water you fish.

Baits To Use

Most Walleyes are now looking for the cooler water, most likely cold streams flowing into the lake. They have also moved off the bottoms and are suspended, so use a fish finder to locate the correct depths to be fishing. I have found they are typically suspended 3/4 of the way down, so if fishing 17 feet of water you want to focus on crank baits that dive ~11 feet. However I will still use the jigging Rapala for Walleyes that are cruising the weed-lines or sandbars, as this is my number one bait(casting) for catching Walleyes.

Remember each lake is different, so the color of bait is very important. If you are fishing a dark lake try the yellows, orange, gold, or green glow. For a clear lake try the blue, green and silver. If your colors are not working keep changing until you find what does.

My Top Two Baits

Here is what has worked for me this summer. My top two baits for Walleyes are; the ice fishing jigging rapala and the Bandit Crank-Bait.

How To Fillet Walleyes – Best Method No Bones

How To Fillet A Walleye

To fillet Walleyes or any pan fish is quick and easy. The real secret is in having a good sharp fillet knife. For Walleyes I will use a 6″ Fillet Knife unless they are larger than 4 pounds, then I use a 9″ knife. See how to Fillet A Bluegill.

Filleting Walleyes

This short video will step you through the process of filleting a Walleye. Once you have the fillet removed you will want to remove the cartilage in the fillet. Now you’re not done yet as we need to remove the best tasting part of the Walleye, the cheek meat. This meat is by far a delicacy, so don’t toss it out.

How To Clean Walleye Fillets

Fist rinse your fillets 3 times to remove all the scales, then add salt to pull out any blood in the fillets and place into the refrigerator for a hour or two.

Fishing for Walleyes through the ICE – Wanna catch more!

Wanna Catch More Walleyes Through The ICE – Try This!

I was hungry for a Walleye meal so I packed up my gear and traveled to a lake in Indiana that many fisherman will not even try for walleyes since they are so hard to catch there. However there are a bounty of large walleyes in this lake and I have found a technique that works great.

Fishing The Sand Bar

As I started to set up and drill my holes I asked another fisherman, doing any good? No, was the ice fisherman’s reply. Been here about an hour and all I’ve had are a couple of Pan fish taps. Are you sure they were pan fish? This gin colored lake is notorious for very light biting walleyes. I knew from experience!

Rigging The Rapala Jig For Lite Biting Walleyes

To rig for lite biting walleyes on this lake I use a number 7 Rapala jig with a short stinger hook attached to the rear hook and add a pinched off minnow head to the belly treble. Yep just as I thought, those pan-fish taps became walleyes in my skillet. The majority of these walleyes were caught on the stinger hook and the minnow heads greatly enhanced the presentation. It’s also a great way to use those dead minnows that did not survive the trip. For more on how to use this Jig.

Fishing Walleyes In Deep Water

This lake has some deep holes over 100 feet, so If I’m fishing in water that is 18 feet or deeper I prefer to use 12# Fluorocarbon for solid hook setting power. Otherwise, I will stick with 6 to 8 lb fluorocarbon. Hope this helps put more walleyes in your bucket. Good luck fishing.