G&F: Know the difference between sauger and walleye

(Lander, Wyo.) – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reminds anglers to brush up on the differences between sauger and walleye, especially while fishing on Boysen Reservoir.

Knowing the difference between a sauger and its close relative the walleye will be especially important for anglers this year because of the high number of age-three, 14- to 17-inch saugers currently in Boysen Reservoir.  The creel limit on saugers in the Wind River drainage is two, whereas six walleyes can be harvested daily or kept in possession.  Sauger and walleye limits in the Wind River drainage are not combined, so an angler can possess up to eight fish as long as no more than two are saugers and no more than six are walleyes.

Lander Fisheries Biologist, Paul Gerrity stresses “while overall sauger numbers have declined drastically in Boysen Reservoir and rivers upstream over the past decade, a high number of age-3 saugers currently exist in Boysen Reservoir because of a strong 2011 year-class.  We (fisheries biologists) are unsure how many of the saugers that are currently in Boysen will stay there after this year because some adults will move back into the streams to reproduce while others will remain in the reservoir”.

The best way to know the difference between a sauger and a walleye is to look at the dorsal fin.  Saugers have distinct spots along their entire dorsal fin, whereas walleyes have no spots but do have a black patch on the membrane between the last two or three spines.  Saugers also have dark, mottled coloration along the entire length of their bodies and walleyes do not.

All walleyes and saugers caught in the Wind River drainage must remain whole (gills and entrails may be removed) until the angler is off the water and done fishing for the day.  Once off the water and done fishing for the day, walleyes and saugers may be filleted for transportation and storage.  A piece of skin large enough to allow species identification  (at least one (1) inch square) shall remain on all fish fillets while in transit or in the field.

Signs will be posted at Boysen Reservoir boat ramps to assist anglers in sauger/walleye identification.  Anglers with a sauger possession limit that are having difficulty determining if a fish is a sauger or a walleye are urged to follow the motto “If you don’t know, let it go.”

–Provided by Wyoming Game & Fish Department