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Do Saugeyes reproduce?

Discussion in 'Central Ohio Fishing Reports' started by Rainer Wolf, Dec 9, 2004.

  1. The big antrim record was full of eggs. My buddy says they don't reproduce, just go through the motions. I'd like more on the subject. Basically he says all hybrids don't reproduce(stripers too).

  2. When I took my saugeye in for them to inspect a biologist with the ODNR told me that a saugeye can only reproduce with one of there parents, or a walleye. If you read the article about the world record saugeye the biologist said it was a first generation.
  3. catking

    catking Banned

    This should lay to rest all the nay sayers out there that say hybrids cannot multiply ;) The movie Jurrassic Park had an actor say something that in fact is 100 % corect. Nature finds a way. Nature always has and always will find a way . The assumption that ALL hybrids are sterile is just not true.. CATKING
  4. Corey

    Corey OGF Team-Charter Member

    The study done by OSU, Division of Biosciences, in 1982, funded by the ODNR, not only proved that Saugeyes can reproduce with either parent SPECIES, but also that they can reproduce intraspecies, Saugeye to Saugeye. Parent means either Walleye or Sauger, NOT their actual parent, i.e. Mother or Father. The same study also showed that Saugeye eggs, when fertilized by milt from male Saugeyes, actually had a higher percentage of egg viability than when backbreeding with the parent species. The trouble with taking what is said by ODNR personell at face value is that they seem not to educate their own personnel as they learn more about things. Over 20 years after they found that they could, in the right situation, breed successfully, there are still game wardens and other ODNR personnel who pass on the false info that they are sterile. This is what they were told back at the start of the stocking & breeding programs and they were never re-educated as far as the facts go. Many biologists, however competent in their field, simply didn't have anything to do with the Saugeye programs, have no first-hand knowledge, and just repeat what was accepted as true at one time. Saugeyes are still very new and we will likely find many more ways in which the original assumptions were wrong. In the article link posted by bkr43050, I have copied exactly from the original study by Hearns. You can see that the rate of swim-up-fry is higher in the incidence of Saugeye to Saugeye than in the case of backbreeding Saugeye to Sauger; 46% to 38% respectively.
  5. Tee

    Tee Team OGF

    Info from another board:

    Saugeye Fecundity
    By Gary on Wednesday, December 01, 2004 - 02:30 pm:

    Although this is not a question specific to Lake Erie, but there's a lively discussion currently among Central Ohio anglers concerning saugeye fecundity. Can saugeyes reproduce successfully ?? Any thoughts and/or answers would be greatly appreciated !!


    By Kelly Riesen, Sea Grant Fisheries Prog. Coord. on Friday, December 03, 2004 - 02:27 pm:

    Saugeyes were not originally thought to have been able to reproduce successfully. They are basically the fish equivalent of a mule.

    However, one study done by researchers in 1988 reported that there was a 10% hatching success rate when male saugeyes were crossed with female walleyes.

    Another group of researchers in Tennessee reported successful saugeye X saugeye reproduction.

    While there may be some successful reproduction in saugeyes, it is probably not common and would most likely not be enough to maintain a saugeye population for sport fishing.

  6. Corey

    Corey OGF Team-Charter Member

    Good post Tee. Wonder how they missed the Hearns study?. One thing to remember is that they can lay all the eggs they want, but if there is no proper spawning habitat in a given lake, it's all moot. It takes a pretty narrow set of circumstances; proper and consistent water levels throughout the process, winds of sufficient force out of the same quadrant during that time frame to generate enough current to prevent silt from being deposited on the eggs, and proper bottom composition, i.e. pea gravel to baseball size rock.
  7. I see that the Hearns study comes to the conclusion that with all the variables thrown in that even with viable saugeye, that reproduction is a "moot point" and that even in the best of conditions and variables, reproduction is limited. The way I read that report is that most saugeye are not viable. I would also assume that the best chance in our state for natural reproduction of saugeye would be in our rivers?

    Anyone know of studies showing the incidence of naturally occuring saugeyes (not stocked)? I wonder if the odds of a naturally occuring saugeye are on par with the odds of 2 fertile saugeyes coming together within a given population to succesfully mate. In a river situation with both parent species present, do the odds go up?

    Is the concern that these matings will "dilute" the gene pool or actually lower recruitment rates because viable members of both parent species are breeding with an increased number of sterile fish?
  8. I can't quote from any studies, but conversations with some knowledgeable biologists indicate that there is legitimate concern for saugeye stocking and the effect on natural gene pools.

    Consider the following:

    The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District (MWCD) is comprised of many dams that create reservoirs in the Muskingum River basin. These are some of the finest saugeye fisheries around (Piedmont, Tappan, Clendening). Heavy stocking at these reservoirs combined with their inherent qualities (low gradient tributaries, relatively long hydraulic retention time, high surface acre to drainage area ratio, fertile water, conducive structural elements) have created a saugeye jackpot.

    Now consider Dillon Reservoir (Muskingum county). Dillon is a reservoir of the Licking River, which itself is a tributary of the Muskingum River. Dillon is one of the best saugeye nurseries in the percid range. However, the very nature of the reservoir's design is responsible for the high exodus of fish, especially during fall/winter drawdown and flood events. The fish are not lost, merely relocated to the lower Licking River, and in turn the Muskingum River. This occurs at all reservoirs, but to a much lesser extent. The problem is when these stocked fish make it down to the Ohio River or when natural sauger & walleye migrate upstream. Where they intersect/overlap, the potential for breeding exists. While each species has slightly different preferences for water temperature, clarity, current velocity, forage size, etc., overlap does occur. The higher the number of individuals present, the probability of cross-breeding is increased (purely statistical). I'm sure year-to-year variation in environmental factors can alter the overall probability, too.

    Any way, with so many saugeye exiting Dillon, the stocking was significantly curtailed a few years ago. I don't have all of the data immediately available to support this, but check the Corps of Engineers water data for various reservoirs and then check the ODNR saugeye stocking reports and you'll see the connection for yourself.

    Personally, I wish ODNR would simply stock sauger. While the size is compromised somewhat, the negative effect on the system is avoided because a new species is not introduced, only the range of one is extended.

    For that matter, the book of Exodus forbids people from cross-breeding animals. Maybe we've not come as far as we think we have...
  9. thx for the info. now my buddy says "i never said they didn't reproduce" typical
  10. After much research, including posting on the Ohio Sea Grant discussion board, my humble apologies to CatKing for my post a couple of weeks ago.
  11. catking

    catking Banned

    Hey Capt'n Clueless- Are you saying DA KING was right for once :eek: My friend, that is rare indeed , the fact that I finally got something right........ :D ........THE CATKING !!!
  12. Corey

    Corey OGF Team-Charter Member

    Toboso, the figure that keeps coming up in the literature as far as naturally occuring Saugeye numbers, in waters where both Sauger and Walleye coexist with overlapping spawning habitat, is about 4% of the total "'Eye" population.
    The ODNR is indeed concerned for the purity of the gene pools. They held public meetings at one time, in Northern Ohio, to reassure the angling public that they, the ODNR, would no longer stock Saugeye in any waters that drained North to Erie, just to address this concern.
    One thing that still mystifies me is that, while most studies state that the 4%, + or -, of naturally occuring Saugeyes is such a small amount that it can be safely reabsorbed into the gene pool without any effect, at the same time the hatchery programs here cited the presence of Saugeyes in their test nets as a reason for dropping the use of Salt Fork and Seneca as "Mother" lakes and for beginning Saugeye stockings at these two lakes. The ODNR opines that the Saugeyes were brought into these lakes in buckets by anglers. Going by the published figures this doesn't make any sense. Anglers would have to introduce literally thousands of Saugeyes to exceed that safe 4% mark before the gene pool were effected. I think rather that they used the presense of Saugeyes ( most likely there due to misidentification of broodstock by hatchery personnel) as an easy excuse to change to hatchery production of Saugeye rather than Walleyes. It's a simple matter of more-bang -the-buck for them. Mitochondrial DNA testing on a fish-by-fish basis, to guarantee pure broodstock, is cost prohibitive, and hatchery production of Saugeyes doesn't require quite the strict controls during the breeding process; i.e. water temperature, etc., as does Walleye breeding.
    Another point of interest; more studies have been done concerning the ploidity of hybrids and the latest concensus is that a far greater number of Saugeyes are born fertile than was first thought. Check out studies dealing with Triploid and Diploid hybrids. Hatcheries in some states are experimenting with methods of changing the ploidity during the egg hatching stage. Ohio has tried subjecting the eggs and fry to colder water temps, warmer water temps, and to increased pressure in an attempt at influencing the ploidity. The increased pressure seems to have yielded the best results. I keep copies of the studies here at the shop to show people but I lent some out that haven't been returned. As soon as I get them back I'll post the names of the studies so you guys can check them out yourselves.
  13. Great insight on the subject Jim! It is obvious that you have been around the saugeye stocking process a great deal and your presence here is a great resource for the rest of us. Thanks for taking the time to share some facts with us.
  14. Corey:

    Two things come to mind. You said the magic phrase "bang for the buck". I don't think ODNR is necessarily wrong with this approach, either (good science and ethics in place, of course). Just talk to any number of anglers at the nearest reservoir on a balmy autumn or winter evening...

    The 4% overlap certainly appears trivial to the angler-at-large, but just like compounding interest on credit card, 4% could be more significant over time. However, it begs asking if there is an environ with some naturally occuring hybrid population, can a "pure" genotype be determined? I wonder if Lake Erie walleye DNA is identical to Ohio River walleye DNA (compared to Mille Lacs, and so on)? Maybe this is elementary to the guys in white coats at OSU. Maybe they are working on the solution to the ploidity "problem"? A friend of mine at ODNR usually keeps me apprised of the goings on of the Dabrowski research, but I've not kept up on it for a while. Maybe there's a hybrid application to the gender selection technique?

    Any way, I still contend that sauger seem to be a logical choice to avoid some of these issues, but perhaps it's not that easy to hatch them. Perhaps it's water over the dam since there are so many hybrids in the system that would alter the sauger DNA.

    All of this stuff reminds me of what my dad used to say about having to tell a lie to cover a lie--and so on. Every time we outsmart the natural processes God created, we have to invent a patch for a new problem we created by doing so. Not that I don't love catching and eating saugeye---just thinking out loud.
  15. Corey

    Corey OGF Team-Charter Member

    I agree that the ODNR isn't wrong in making the decisions they made. You know I love my Saugeye fishing, lol. The only bone I have to pick is that those ODNR people that I've personally asked about the Salt Fork/Seneca situation have categorically denied the possibility that their personnel could have possibly made mistakes in physical identification while selecting broodstock. These denials came at the same time that other states, like with the study done in N. Dakota on Lake Sakakawea (sp?), were coming up with estimates that even well trained personnel had up to a 10% error rate when trying to tell the difference between pure Walleyes, Saugers, and Saugeyes by relying on physical characteristics alone; body blotching, dorsal fin spotting, white tail tip, etc..
    I just can't answer the questions you pose in your second paragraph. They are very interesting and, now that you've brought them up, I'll have to do some research to satisfy my own curiosity, but they require far more knowledge and training in the biological sciences than I have. I will post any info that I run across. It may take some time due to how busy I've been around here lately. Maybe later this Winter.
    From what I understand, Sauger just weren't a good choice for breeding/stocking. They just wouldn't thrive in the type of habitat that Saugeyes would. Most of the MWCD lakes, along with Western Ohio lakes like Indian and C.J. Brown, are basically shallow waters, far along in their cycles, with little current flow, and subject to high water temps in Summer. Saugers thrive in deep, colder waters, with riverine environments being optimum for their success. The "hybdid vigor" of the Saugeye makes it a perfect choice for the stocking programs; a fish that can thrive in warmer, more turbid waters.
    Most of the time, when customers ask me the difference between Saugeyes and Walleyes, I just tell 'em "You damn fool, don't you know? ........One starts with a "W" and one starts with an "S".