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Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Fishing In Iowa

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Guide To Fishing For Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye

By AA-Fishing Staff Writers

Walleye fishing in Iowa

Iowa is known for its excellent walleye fishing opportunities, with anglers targeting both walleye and related species like sauger and saugeye. These fish are highly sought after for their delicious flesh and challenging fights. The purpose of this page is to share basic information about walleye, saugeye and sauger fishing and identify popular walleye waters in the state.

Watch this video for walleye tips and tactics.

Walleye can be found in many lakes and rivers throughout Iowa. They are known for their keen eyesight and feeding habits during low-light conditions, making them particularly active at dawn and dusk. Anglers often target walleye by trolling with crankbaits or using live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows. Key locations to find walleye include rocky structures, drop-offs, and points. Some popular walleye fisheries in Iowa include the Mississippi River, Spirit Lake, Clear Lake, and the Des Moines River.

Sauger, a close relative of the walleye, is another popular target for anglers in Iowa. Sauger are often found in rivers and can tolerate turbid water conditions better than walleye. They are known for their aggressive strikes and can be caught using similar techniques as walleye, such as trolling with crankbaits or vertical jigging. The Mississippi River, particularly Pool 9 and Pool 19, is renowned for its sauger fishing opportunities.

Saugeye, a hybrid species resulting from the crossbreeding of walleye and sauger, are also present in Iowa's waters. Saugeye combine the desirable traits of both species, including the fighting ability of walleye and the adaptability of sauger. They are typically stocked in lakes and reservoirs and can be caught using similar techniques as walleye and sauger.

Anglers targeting walleye, sauger, and saugeye in Iowa should familiarize themselves with fishing regulations, including size limits, creel limits, and any specific rules for the waters they plan to fish. It's important to practice catch-and-release for larger fish to ensure the sustainability of the fishery for future generations.

Whether fishing in rivers or lakes, Iowa offers abundant opportunities for anglers to pursue walleye, sauger, and saugeye. With their tasty flesh and reputation as challenging sportfish, these species provide an exciting angling experience for both seasoned and novice anglers in the state.

Residents of Iowa are blessed with many walleye fisheries across the state. The vast majority of walleye come from major lakes with cold, deep waters. The state record sauger came from the Missouri River and the Des Moines River was home to the state record saugeye. Ice fishing for walleye is an option in winter at several lakes in the state.

Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Lakes

Some of the larger lakes with varying populations of walleye include Big Creek Lake, Big Spirit Lake, Black Hawk Lake, Browns Lake, Brushy Creek Lake, Clear Lake, Coralville Lake, DeSoto Lake, East Okoboji Lake, Five Island Lake, Lake Icaria, Lake MacBride, Lake Manawa, Lake Red Rock, Little River Lake, Little Spirit Lake, Lost Grove Lake, Lost Island Lake, North Twin Lake, Okamanpeedan Lake, Pleasant Creek Lake, Rathbun Lake, Rock Creek Lake, Saylorville Lake, Silver Lake, Storm Lake, Three Mile Reservoir, Twelve Mile Creek Lake and West Okoboji Lake. Read Fishing for Walleye on the Iowa River by Timothy Anderson.

Fishing Boats For Rent In Iowa

Fishing for walleye in Iowa



World record: 25 lbs 0 oz

State Record: 14.5 lbs



World record: 17 lbs 7 oz

State Record: 6.50 lbs



World record: 15 lbs 6 oz

State Record: 12.25 lbs

Click the images and links above for species details.

Top lures for walleye in Iowa

Jigs with a variety of trailers and bait work well in virtually any depth water. When walleyes are shallow, spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and rip baits are the often very productive. As they move deeper, spoons are ideal for active walleye. Understanding the seasonal movements of walleyes can enhance your chances of selecting the right lures for conditions on local waters.

Iowa State Walleye, Sauger & Saugeye Records

The state record walleye was caught out of the Des Moines River.

The state record sauger came from the Missouri River.

The state record saugeye was taken out of the Des Moines River.

Fishing For Walleye

This toothy fish will eat virtually anything it can catch and get in its mouth. They prefer small fish and will eat crustaceans, worms and insects. They tend to be somewhat wary and prefer the safety of deeper darker water. Trolling for walleye with deep diving crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinners and live bait provides a way to cover vast areas and locate concentrations of fish. Use of planer boards allows anglers to cover water out both sides of the boat while trolling. Try fishing for walleye from sundown to midnight, particularly during the heat of summer.

Walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.

Fishing For Sauger

Closely related to the walleye and similar in appearance, sauger are generally smaller than walleye, reaching 4 to 5 pounds (or more) and up to about 20 inches. Often found in muddier rivers, it thrives in larger, silty lakes. They spawn in the shallows at night, without creating or guarding specific nests.

Fishing For Saugeye

This hybrid is created by mating sauger with walleye. The walleye influence allows the hybrids to grow larger than sauger, often to sizes equaling walleye. Saugeye tend to survive best in turbid/silty water and are caught in the same general areas and habitat populated by walleye and sauger.

Walleye prefer moderately deep lakes with gravel, rock or sandy bottoms. It is found primarily in cold water lakes but has proven to survive in warmer impoundments. It is prized for its great tasting filets. Click here to learn all about walleye fishing.

Iowa walleye spawn in spring and when they have the option will choose to migrate from the lake up into feeder streams to spawn. If this option is not available they seek out shallow bars or shoals with clean bottom surfaces near deep water.

Walleye Resources

In-Fisherman - Walleye
U.S. Fish & Wildlife - Walleye
The National Wildlife Federation - Walleye


Also find information about walleye, sauger or saugeye fishing in these states.

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