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Saugers at Night
By Sam Anderson
I've never been much of a night fisherman, My theory has always been that if you can't catch them during the day, you won't take them at night either. I know though, that there are a few people out there who fish for saugers day and night, with some of their best catches coming under the cover of darkness. In fact, some of the best fisherman around have taken their biggest saugers at night.
That in itself is reason enough for me to make a few night trips for
saugers every year.
The walleye is king in the Upper Midwest when you talk to many anglers about what kind of fish they like to pursue. One fish that is closely related to the walleye is the sauger. The sauger is a "cousin" to the walleye and the meat is very similar to that of a walleye, but this camouflaged commando of the deep is different in other ways.
First of all, the walleye and the sauger are similar in shape. Both of these fish are "cigar shaped" and to the novice they are sometimes mistaken. They both like similar "haunts" and they are often times caught in the same general area. The saugers are usually found in the river systems and some anglers have reported catching saugers in takes. But with a closer observation they discover that the takes are part of a river system. Saugers are also referred to as "sand pike" and many times they are caught adjacent to sand. The walleye in comparison can be found in river systems takes and close to sand flats.
With all these similarities in mind you should also realize that there are differences. The physical appearance of a sauger is noticeable. They have mottled colored sides that gives them the camouflaged pattern. They have the ability to blend into their environment, especially the bottom structural patterns. Their dorsal fin ( top fin) is even camouflaged, it has a system of polka dots. In comparison the walleye doesn't have any of these physical characteristics. Likewise the sauger doesn't have that distinctive white spot on their tail that the walleye has.
The sauger likes to hide and wait in ambush of its' prey. The
sauger is also found deeper than walleyes and it usually will not achieve
the weight, and size that a walleye will. In fact, most state records
on saugers tell the angler that a large six pound sauger will be close
to their state record. These commandos like current. They live
out their lives in current breaks behind rocks, man made rip rap, stumps,
downed trees and below dams,bends of the river, and off the tips of sand
bars. They wait an watch and when the food offering floats by they
attack and retreat to the protection of the current break.
The key to a productive area is the presence of bait fish such as shiners. If minnows are in the harbor or the bay during the day, walleyes will visit at night. Check the area to be fished during the day and see if there is an abundance of bait. If there are lots of minnows, the odds are good that lots of saugers will visit later on.
These fish can be very patternable. It might take a while to get them exactly figured out, but once the best fishing time is established, the fish will feed at that time, or close to it, the next few nights.
A change in weather is the primary factor that can throw off this timing.
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