Sander canadensis
Image of Sander canadensis

Photo by John Lyons 

Key Characteristics

The sauger is an elongate, cylindrical fish from the perch family with large canine teeth. The main distinguishing characteristics are the rows of distinct, ducky spots on the first dorsal fin and the black spot at the base of the pectoral fin.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Presque Isle11984
St. Clair31983
Distribution map for Sander canadensis

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Sauger occur in lakes, reservoirs, and large rivers, and prefer turbid waters. They generally prefer waters where temperatures in the entire water column are within their temperature preference.

Specific Habitat Needs

Turbid waters needed in River (5th-6th order), Pool, River (5th-6th order), Run, Great Lake, Pelagic, Midwater

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.


Overfishing and environmental degradation are often blamed for the sauger's decline (Rawson and Scholl 1978). However, these reasons are not always agreed upon. Evers (1994) suggests that due to the sauger's tolerance of turbidity, their population declines are not likely related to habitat degradation. There is also debate as to whether competition with walleye has aided in sauger declines. Management targeted towards restoring and/or preserving spawning and other critical habitats is needed.

Active Period

Spawning from first week of May to fourth week of June

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at [Accessed Aug 17, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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