Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) has officially recognized a giant six-pound saugeye as the first state record for the species in the Old Dominion State.
Angler Michael Miller of Nathalie, Va. was fishing the Staunton River on Sept. 23 with a crankbait when the big fish hit. It was landed using spinning tackle after a short fight, according to a DWR report.
The record fish measured 26.25-inches long, with a 14-inch girth at Bobcat’s Bait and Tackle in Clarksville, Va. The prized catch was inspected by a state fisheries biologist, and the Virginia records keeping committee reviewed the record applications and verified Miller’s catch as a state record saugeye.
This is the first entry and certified Virginia record for saugeye since the walleye and sauger hybrid species was added to the state record fish program in 2020, says DWR.
The Staunton River is an 81-mile portion of the Roanoke River. The Staunton portion of the Roanoke begins at Leesville Dam and continues to John H. Kerr Reservoir (Buggs Island Lake). The Staunton River region is largely undeveloped and is popular with anglers and outdoorsmen.
Saugeye is a hybrid species in the perch family, created by crossing a female walleye with a male sauger. Saugeyes were first stocked in Virginia in 2013.
Saugeye have tannish yellow to gold-colored sides with distinct dark blotches or saddles extending from the dorsal to the ventral side of the fish. Saugeyes have abundant rough scales on their cheeks while walleyes and saugers only have a few cheek scales.
IGFA only keeps an All-Tackle record for saugeye, which is a 12-pound, 13-ounce fish caught in 2001 by angler Fed Sulek from Ohio’s Clendening Reservoir.
Similar techniques used to catch walleyes and saugers also work for saugeyes. Saugeyes generally are less finicky feeders than walleyes, so are easier for anglers to catch, making them a good choice for fisheries stocking work.
Virginia has been stocking saugeyes for almost 10 years, because they survive well in rivers and lakes, and also in warm and turbid waters.