Saugeye (Sander vitreus/Sander canadensis) are a hybrid produced by the Ohio division of wildlife and stocked annually into many of Ohio's reservoirs for the purpose of creating sport fisheries.
Saugeye are intermediate in appearance between their two parent species, the sauger and walleye. The best character to look at for identifying this hybrid is the dark bars or oblong vertical spots between the spines of the first dorsal fin. The membrane of this fin in the unmarked areas is often a dusky color and not as clear as that of a sauger. A large dusky spot at the rear base of the first dorsal fin is usually visible on a saugeye but not as clearly defined as it is on a walleye. Saugeye have dark laterally oblong blotches on their sides but they tend to be smaller than those of a sauger. Saugeye also have white tips on the lower part of the tail and anal fins. These are more defined than the very thin light colored margin of a sauger but less defined than the large white tips found on a walleye. The over all body color of a saugeye is also intermediate between the gray to silver color of a walleye and the bronze or brown color of a sauger. The average length of adults is 12-18 inches, but they can reach 30 inches on occasion. Adults usually weight 1-2 pounds, but they can sometimes weigh up to 14 pounds. The saugeye is in the Percidae (perches and darters) family.
Saugeye are created by crossing walleye eggs with sperm from a sauger. The result is a fast growing fish that has excellent survival abilities. This also makes it ideal for stocking into Ohio reservoirs. Occasionally this hybrid naturally occurs where both parent species are found but it is rare. A small percentage of saugeye can reproduce and will do so with one another or either parent species if they are present in the same water body. Walleye, sauger and saugeye scatter their eggs over a hard bottom and provide no parental care for the young.
Habitat and Behavior
Saugeye are highly adaptable to most lake and river environments and are tolerant of turbid (murky) waters. They are stocked in many reservoirs in Ohio but often go through or over dams making it possible to catch them in the tail waters of those reservoirs. Also, they occasionally can be caught well down stream of reservoirs they were stocked into. They feed primarily on young gizzerd shad and other small fish.