- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Sauger coloration is brassy or olive gray flecked with yellow on the back and sides and white or cream colored on the belly. Three to four large dark brown to black splotches called saddles cover the sides. Body is elongate and nearly cylindrical. The head and mouth are large, with the mouth extending past the middle of the eye. The head is pointed. Sauger have large, sharp teeth. There are two, separate dorsal fins, the first having round black spots and spines and the second having two light, narrow bands and soft rays. Sauger have large, glossy eyes that see very well in dark or muddy waters.
Sauger are native to only North America. They are found in a wide band across the north mid-central North America from Quebec to Alberta, then in a progressively slimmer band further south down through the Mississippi River drainage system, from Arkansas to northern Alabama and Tennessee.
Sauger prefer large, muddy lakes and rivers. They are more prevalent in slow-moving rivers but, because they are more tolerant of heavy current than the closely related walleye, they can also be found in faster moving rivers. Lakes that sauger inhabit tend to be shallow.
Sauger are described as coolwater species, thriving at temperatures too warm for coldwater fishes, such as trout and salmon, and too cold for warmwater fishes, such as sunfish and catfish. The ideal temperature range for sauger is from 62 to 72 F.
Sauger spawn in late spring to early summer in the north and earlier in the south, when the water is between 39 and 43 F. Nests are built in shallow water on gravel shoals. Females will lay 15,000 to 40,000 eggs for each pound of her body weight. Eggs hatch in 12 to 18 days. Parenting sauger provide no protection for the hatching fry; the parents leave the area after spawning is complete.
Sauger often spawn immediately following walleye and in the same locations, and cross-fertilization does naturally occur, producing a hybrid fish called a saugeye. In large river systems, sauger may migrate as much as 200 miles upstream to spawn.
Sauger are mostly bottom feeders. The majority of their diet consists of fishes such as shad, sunfish, and minnows. They will also eat insects, leeches, and crayfish. Young sauger eat mainly aquatic insects such as midgeflys and mayflies.
Sauger are considered good table fare, but they are not highly targeted by anglers and are often caught accidentally by fishermen seeking walleye. The best baits are live minnows or a jig and minnow combination. Sauger will be found where baitfish such as shiners or minnows are present, and since they are active feeders at night, a night fisherman should scout out areas where baitfish are observable during the day and revisit them after dark.
Sauger are considered patternable, meaning that once their feeding areas and times are discovered they will probably be in the same place for a few days or nights. They can be taken by trolling or casting, and are called sand pike because they are often caught adjacent to sand.
- Sauger are closely related to walleye, but are much smaller on average.
- The all-tackle world record is 8 pounds, 12 ounces, caught in North Dakota in 1971.
- The saugeye, Stizostedion vitreum, is a hybrid-cross between a sauger and a walleye that can occur naturally, though most populations are the result of stocking efforts with hatchery-raised fish.