Sauger have been designated as a "fish of special concern" in many northern states. This is due to their recent population decline. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sauger populations decreased by over 33 percent within just a few decades between 1990-2010. While they are not yet listed under the Endangered Species Act, sauger are protected by the federal Lacey Act and managed by the state as a catch-and-release only species.
This fish is especially noticeable because of its large, black colored head. Because of this feature, it has been labeled as one of the "dancing" or "marching" bass family. It is also sometimes called a "sand pike" or "sand perch" because of its preference for sandy environments.
The following is a list of 20 specific sauger fishing tips that are widely accepted as useful by both beginners and professionals alike.
1. Know your bait.
Crawlers are the most popular bait option, but they have their drawbacks such as being hard to find in certain areas and difficult to transport by land. Worms are more plentiful, although expensive in comparison, and also easier to store if you live far from a lake, or near an area where crawlers can't be found. Small pieces of chicken or other larger fish work well too depending on the type of sauger you want to catch.
2. Use lures for better action.
The first two items were about bait, not lures - so why mention lures? Well if using bait isn't getting you anywhere then it time for plan B - use the right lure! Lure manufacturers know what works, and this is a well kept secret. A little experimentation with lures can go a long way for your success rate.
Find out where the saugers are by observing their habits throughout each season of fishing. If they like to hang out in a certain area during summer then that's probably where you should start your search for them. Knowing their habits also helps in determining how to catch them - for example if they like to feed on the bottom then you'll want a heavier line and lure.
4. Use the right approach.
If you haven't already found away to attract saugers with bait or lures then it time to try out different approaches such as float fishing, spin casting, spinner baiting, etc. Not all methods work for every species of fish so do some research on a particular type before you start. Take into account how active and aggressive a sauger is so you can approach it with the right method.
5. Sauger Equipment Recommendations
Tackle should be a medium weight since saugers are not as active or aggressive compared to other species of fish like bass. A 7-9 foot rod and reel set up with an average action is recommended for the best possible line control. The appropriate fishing line should be at or near 10 lb test, depending on how deep you intend to fish. A swivel is also important to connect your line to the fishing reel especially if you are using a spinner or other type of lure with spinners.
6. When to go
Time of day has a big effect on fishing success. Sauger are night feeders and will bite best just after sunrise and before sunset. During the day they prefer to rest until dark. Changing the time of year can also change when sauger are more active, as well as draught or rain conditions. Always be aware of the season and any weather conditions such as rain, storms or a new moon that can affect fishing.
7. Don't forget lure colors.
Lures color makes a big difference in catching fish but it can also depend on the type of water your fishing in. For example, clear water lets the light through and is best for bright colored lures or spinners - while darker colors do better in murky waters. Sauger are not very particular when it comes to lures so experiment with different styles to see what works best for you.
8. Use scent sparingly.
If you plan on using scents then use them with care since sauger are very sensitive to smells especially pheromones that attract females during mating season. Most bait stores sell pheremones for lures and these can be used for an added advantage - but don't overuse it or the fish will be put off.
9. Spinner baits vs. spinners
Sauger have a tendency to follow an object so the best way to get their attention is via spinner baits or other kinds of flashy lures that swim across the water. If you want to catch sauger with just a simple spinning lure then use one that has 3 "spinners".
10. Touring rods and reels
If you plan on going fishing over a period of time then it makes sense to have more than one outfit so that your not stranded out in the middle of nowhere if something breaks down or gets lost. This is especially important with spinning tackle since there are numerous small parts like bearings, drags, lures, etc. It's also a good idea to have different line spooled on each rod and reel so that your not caught out by changing weather conditions. Even if you never plan on taking two rods out at the same time it's nice to have the option and added flexibility for when fishing conditions change or new species appear.
11. Keep your tackle in good shape
Check over your fishing equipment periodically to make sure everything is still functioning properly, and any broken or worn parts are replaced as soon as possible. Fishing lines that are frayed or line hooks with bent points will lose their effectiveness so throw them away if they show signs of damage. Sometimes fish swallow debris like leaves or paper and the hooks will rust against their stomach lining, so always check the bait before inserting it into your fishing line.
Tips to Catch More Sauger
1. Fish the Night Away
Sauger are nocturnal feeders so time your fishing trip for dusk or right after sunset when they will be most active and sensitive to biting your bait. Sauger are a lot more cautious during daylight hours but may also bite at dawn if the water is calm with little wave action. So if you want to fool those sauger into biting your baits then try fishing in the dark with either a lantern or flashlight shining directly on your line and lure - this will help attract fish that are close by.
2. Fish with Light Tackle
If you're fishing in a river or still water then light spinning tackle is the best choice since sauger are a medium-sized fish that can easily break heavy line. However, if you plan on going after bigger sauger make sure to use heavier tackle since these fish can grow up to about 30 pounds or more. Light and medium spinning tackle is the most versatile since it can be used to catch fish in both still water and moving water, although fly fishing will do better in rivers with fast current.
3 . Learn to Fish the Flows
The best place to catch sauger is where the river or stream widens out and slows down like around horseshoe bends, drops or other obstructions. Bigger sauger will also hang out in eddies that form from a swift flow of water with lots of snags, rocks and logs. Try going after sauger during low water periods since this will expose more of the river bottom which is where sauger prefer to hide.
There you have it! Hope these tips are helpful in your next fishing trip. Be sure to do your homework on a spot before you go and try different techniques until you find what works best for sauger during that time of year. Good luck and don't forget to share with friends.