For the first time in a while I went fishing for rudd. On a sunny day in late spring I went to a small lake that had once been a gravel pit. Everything about the place and the day was so pleasant that I couldn’t understand why it was so long since I’d done this.
Then I remembered one reason. The ridiculous amount of gear involved in coarse fishing. It all has to be carried from the car to the wooden fishing platform on the lake shore and then assembled. Rods and reels, landing nets and keep nets, bait and groundbait and a large box full of bits and pieces that will never be used. Luckily the box also doubles as a seat and, considerably later, I was actually sitting on it in the sun watching a float in the water. Shortly after that I caught a rudd.
I fell in love with these fish when I was young. Not the mightiest species that swims in our waters but very pretty. Mature specimens are a dull golden colour with crimson fins. They like intimate waters like small lakes and ponds, though I’ve also caught them in canals and slow moving stretches of rivers. These are all pleasant places to be on a nice day.
Fishing involves attempting to penetrate the barrier of the water surface and transporting ourselves into the mysterious world beneath. To do this requires a little knowledge and a lot of imagination. But the rudd likes to feed at the surface and in mid water so it’s unique among coarse fish in sometimes allowing the angler to see it.
I was fishing with maggots and groundbaiting by mixing some of them into balls of mashed bread. The crust in the bread floated while the crumb and the maggots sank in a cloud. Rudd soon started pecking at the floating morsels of crust, showing their olive green backs as they did so.
In the past I have managed to catch them on artificial dry flies, though this isn’t easy as their technique for taking a fly appears to be to drown it first and then swallow it on a second attempt.
They were a much commoner fish when I was young. But when roach started to be spread around the country in the 1970s and 80s they out-competed them.
Roach are a less fussy fish — less fussy about the type of water they live in and what they eat. They are are also much more likely to feed on the bottom. They are quite similar in appearance but one of the key differences is that the bottom feeding roach has an upper lip that protrudes beyond the lower one, while in the surface feeding rudd it’s the other way round.
Another difference is that a mature roach has a silver sheen and a rudd a golden one —which sums up where I place them in my personal hierarchy of fish.
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