Sensational Summer Saugers… NO Respect!
Jun 13th, 2022 by Keith Worrall
Modified Jun 13th, 2022 at 9:52 AM
Thousands of ice anglers flock to Lake of the Woods every year. As anglers make their way to the Walleye Capital, there are a variety of expectations that make for a successful trip. In many cases, catching fish and having a fish fry are somewhere on the list. Even though walleyes steal the conversations, summer saugers are often a part of this equation.
Comedian Rodney Dangerfield coined the phrase, “I don’t get no respect.” One of the fish that doesn’t get respect, yet day in and day out keeps anglers busy and fills buckets is the sauger. This smaller cousin to the walleye is sometimes taken for granted.
When headed up to Lake of the Woods, many anglers’ focus is on the fish that has made LOW famous, the walleye. There is one fish, however, that plays a nice part in the overall catch and fish frys. Saugers play a big part in what makes Lake of the Woods such an enjoyable fishing destination.
Ten good reasons to love summer saugers.
1. Consistent action. In between schools of walleyes, saugers normally bite well and keep the activity level high. There have been many days fishing in which saugers have saved the day and certainly preserved the evening fish fry. If the walleyes aren’t dialed in that particular day for whatever reason, having saugers whacking the jigs and lures really adds to the enjoyment.
2. High population and good sized. Numbers in Lake of the Woods fluctuate year to year. One thing we know, right now, there is an extremely high population in the system and many of them nice size. When I say nice, I am talking up to 14 or 18 inches. This creates a perfect scenario for a lot of action and that heart-pounding “strike” or “tap” at the end of your rod.
3. Living Quarters. Saugers will coexist with walleyes. It is common to come in with a livewell or cooler of walleyes and saugers mixed. As a rule, though, this cousin to the walleye tends to prefer a bit deeper water than walleyes. In addition, they normally hug the bottom vs walleyes that will utilize more of the water column, often suspending while targeting tulibees and other baitfish.
4. Great for kids. Depending upon the day, walleye fishing can take some patience. Saugers are typically more cooperative and help to bring consistent action to the boat. Kids want and need action and saugers will typically keep electronics lit up and rods bent.
5. Unique. Many waterways throughout the Midwest do not have saugers. Saugers traditionally live in waterways associated with a river system and do well in stained water. Thus, most anglers do not have the opportunity to catch saugers on a regular basis. Looking at the sauger vs the walleye, there are differences. Saugers do not have the white tip on the bottom of the tail, they have splotches on their skin, are browner, do not have a dark area at the base of their dorsal fin and have spots on their dorsal fin.
6. Delicious. The firm white meat of a sauger is very much sought after. Some locals will tell you they like the sauger better than even the walleye, as they believe the meat is a bit sweeter. Regardless of opinion, one thing is for sure, they taste good.
7. Liberal daily limits. There is a strong population of saugers in LOW. Throughout the year, anglers are allowed a combined total of six walleyes and saugers per day. Of these six, up to four can be walleyes. With these limits, it lends itself well to filling a cooler of fish for an evening fish fry and bringing a few fish home.
8. Saugers bite all year long. In some lakes when the water really heats up, fishing really shuts off. Lake of the Woods keeps on trucking. It is big water and luckily, there are so many saugers in the system some fish seem to cooperate every day making for a successful outing. Spring, summer and fall offer incredible fishing for both walleyes and saugers as they are active.
9. A fish of Four Seasons! Saugers feed well both on soft and hard water. With the extended seasons Lake of the Woods has for walleyes and saugers being open until April 14th, the sauger season is only close about a month leading up to the MN Fishing Opener.
10. Fun to catch! Saugers fight much like walleyes. The fish are typically hugging the bottom of the lake and they are normally a bit deeper. Jigging your favorite jig, pulling spinners or trolling crankbaits will all bring saugers to the boat.
Although walleyes receive most of the attention, summer saugers play an important role in the overall fishing success on Lake of the Woods. Saugers are fun to catch and swim the waters of Lake of the Woods in abundance. More often than not, when you come for that epic walleye trip, saugers will be happy to pay you a visit!
To learn more about summer saugers and Lake of the Woods, check out the Lake of the Woods Tourism website.
To find a guide, charter boat or lodging, check out our lodging page.