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Roach



The reflective Roach, with greenish blue back and flanks of shimmering silver melting gradually into a white underbelly against which the pectoral, ventral and anal fins contrast boldly in brilliant yellowy orange and deep crimson red, is a very pretty fish to behold indeed

Spawning, Growth & Capture
Appearance, Habitat & Behaviour

Both the dorsal and caudal fins are a rich brown and it is here that we can begin to find some features that help distinguish the Roach from other similar species with both of these fins displaying a distinctly concave appearance and having a ray count of between nine to eleven rays in the dorsal and nine to twelve rays in the anal fin. Although on occasions confusion may occur in distinguishing the Roach from its near cousin the Rudd it should be noted that apart from displaying a distinct silvery lustre in comparison to the subtle golden sheen often worn by the Rudd the top lip of the Roach is level with or even extends marginally beyond the lower lip whereas on the Rudd it is the bottom lip that clearly protrudes beyond the top one.

Affectionately nicknamed "The Redfin" the small immature Roach have fins of a more modest orangey hue and it is not until reaching maturity that the larger specimens may start to live up to this nickname and begin to display a deep crimson fin coloration. The relatively small head of the Roach sports large orange rimmed eyes with young fish being quite slim in appearance however in waters where feeding is good adult fish can soon take on the more normal laterally flattened deep bodied appearance.

The Roach is one of the most common and widely distributed fish in the United Kingdom, though considerably less so in Scotland and Wales, and can be found in a surprisingly diverse range of habitats ranging from murky ponds, gravel pits and canals to clear lakes, lochs, chalk streams, rivers and reservoirs. With a natural diet comprising of aquatic invertebrates, larvae, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, freshwater shrimp, algae and decaying plant material though not generally considered a predatorial species larger specimens have also been known to occasionally turn cannibalistic and take small fry, however when faced with an environment where there is strong competition for live food the extremely adaptable Roach is well capable of surviving on filamentous algae and detritus alone.

Being not only widespread but also on many occasions displaying that most endearing of qualities - a great willingness to take the anglers bait - it is little wonder the Roach is such a popular species frequently forming dense shoals consisting of several hundred individual fish. However whilst it may not prove particularly difficult to locate shoals of small to medium sized Roach it is an entirely different matter if you intend to target a specimen of two pound or more for these larger individuals are both wary and much more cautious in their feeding habits. With a Roach of two pounds generally regarded as a specimen and one of three pounds a fish of a lifetime then it should be noted that these larger fish rarely give themselves up easily and if they are your intended quarry then with them showing a preference for lower light conditions it would be best to target them on overcast days with an accompanying breeze to disturb the water surface or alternatively at dusk, dawn and indeed throughout the night.

Roach spawn between April and early June, depending on water temperatures, often returning to the exact same areas as used for spawning in preceeding years, here large males can often be seen pursuing the females in quite an aggressive courtship frequently causing quite a surface commotion with excited fish leaping clear of the water. The females deposit their sticky somewhat yellowish eggs amongst aquatic weed or submerged tree roots in relatively shallow water with as many as 10,000 to 50,000 eggs being produced per actual pound bodyweight of the laying fish with these numbers perhaps going some way to explain why the Roach is both so widespread and numerous in British waters.

At the same time as the Roach is preoccupied with the procreation of its own future generations both Rudd and Bream also move in to the shallows to spawn and often mingle with Roach at the very same spawning grounds when cross fertilisation between the species is all too common resulting in hybridisation with Roach/Rudd, Roach/Bream and Rudd/Bream hybrids occurring. These cross/hybrids frequently grow much larger than the true "thoroughbred" Roach leading to some confusion when identifying the Roach at venues where such cohabiting hybrid species exist.

With the extremely high level of predation of Roach fry by both pike and perch the percentage survival rate, especially in clear weed free waters such as reservoirs and gravel pits, can be extremely low. However this factor can often work in favour of the specimen hunter as it is in these very waters, with a good head of pike and perch present naturally suppressing the numbers of Roach by predation, where surviving Roach, now freed from the usual heavy competition for food, have a real opportunity to grow rapidly and thereby attain specimen status. However in coloured water or perhaps those smaller venues already inhabited by vast shoals of Roach and few predators the Roach population may on occasion become stunted with the water holding more Roach than its limited food resources can successfully sustain, in such a situation the introduction of a predatory species might be worthy of consideration however it is absolutely essential that advice is sought from your local Environment Agency office regarding the legalities of any such venture.

For tackling Roach rods in the 12 to 15 foot range, are the order of the day, allied in this instance to whatever your own personal favourite reel type may be whether fixed spool, closed face or centre pin, in situations where delicate bait presentation is of paramount importance the use of the pole is an obvious and strongly recommended tactic. Allied to all of this the use of somewhere in the region of 3 lb breaking strain mainline, fine gauge wide gape hooks, both waggler and stick floats along with a selection of ledgering weights to suit the prevailing conditions and particular tactics employed should covers most eventualities.

Due to the accommodating nature of its feeding habits Roach anglers have a great variety of baits at their disposal which can all prove successful at varying times however with the Roach having a relatively small mouth within which lie not particularly strong pharyngeal teeth they show a marked preference for small soft baits with this being enforced by the fact that maggots, casters, pinkies, squatt, sweetcorn, bread flake, bread punch, hempseed, tares, and bloodworm have all stood the test of time and have been well proven throughout the years however in more recent times it has been noted that they can be tempted in certain circumstances by small pieces of luncheon meat, mini boilies, pellets and when targeting larger fish it is also documented that many a specimen Roach has succumbed to a well presented lobworm.

Fly fishing can also frequently bring success with gold beaded nymphs fished on long leaders providing good sport on occasions along with an occasional Roach of specimen stature.

Whatever fishing method you decide to adopt you will find most success comes when light lines are used in conjunction with fine wired hooks for these tackle shy fish.

Roach often begin to feed with more determination as the light begins to wane so whenever possible concentrate your efforts at dusk and on into the darkness.



 

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