Roach - (Rutilus rutilus)
Roach are a relatively small fish which tends to have a blue/green back , silver flanks & a pale white belly. Their lower fins can be coloured yellow, red or even bright orange, and their coloration is very much dependant on the water they inhabit.
The dorsal and tail fin are usually a duller colour than those previously mentioned.
Roach can be quite easily confused with rudd, or be a hybrid of either rudd or bream. In order to establish what fish you have caught the colouration of the eyes can help as roach tend to have red eyes which border on orange, where as rudd have lighter yellow/orange eyes, juvenile bream tend to have slightly pale silver colouration in their eyes.
Lips can also be another indicator, as rudd have lips which close upwards due to their nature as a surface feeder whilst roach lips tend to be straighter.
All these pointers can never fully prove that a roach is a true specimen, so if you catch one above British record weight a scale sample will need to be taken so that it can be proven conclusively with DNA testing - that’s how difficult spotting a true specimen is !
Male roach reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years & females 3-5 years. Roach spawn in spring when local water temperatures reach 8-14 degrees and spawning occurs in shallow areas where weed is in abundance. The males form large shoals and the females enter these shoals for their eggs to be fertilised, this can be witnessed quite easily from the bank due to boisterous splashing.
The fertilised eggs are adhesive and attach to underwater vegetation & tree roots, they typically hatch after 10 days, the young fish then begin to feed on small zooplankton and form shoals to avoid predation.
Natural Diet & Common Baits
Roach are predominately a bottom feeding fish although in warm weather they will quite happily rise in the water and feed from the surface. Roach eat many different types of insect/larvae, and If food is not in abundance, the resourceful roach will also feed on plant matter and algae.
Some of the best baits to use whilst roach fishing are bread, casters, maggots, pinkies and hemp. Roach can quite easily suck the innards out of a caster or maggot, so it's always worthwhile inspecting the hook bait after receiving a bite in case they have sucked the bait dry !
Roach are one of the most abundant coarse fish to be found within the United Kingdom, they can be found in canals, rivers, ponds & large reservoirs.
In still waters roach can be found around most fishing holding features such as reeds, lily pads & other aquatic vegetation, they can also be spotted out in open water feeding near the surface.
In rivers roach tend to inhabit the slower areas of river, these can be any area which is shaded by vegetation or debris rafts. Smaller tributaries entering the main flow of the river can also be worth investigating, as roach tend to form vast shoals in flood conditions in these more sedate areas.
Tackle & Tips
- Using a rod or a pole are both great ways of catching roach, a light float rod or pole with light elastic are all that are needed.
- Line strength of 2-4lbs with a lighter hook length coupled with a size 18-22 hook should cover most aspects of roach fishing, using a slightly larger hook maybe necessary if you are intending to catch larger specimens.
- Regular loose feeding of hemp & maggots is a great way of getting roach to compete for food - try loose feeding a small handful each cast and adjust the amount of feed depending on the frequency of bites.
- Although roach feed at most times of the day, dawn & dusk are the better times to target specimen sized roach as these fish tend to avoid feeding during daylight hours to reduce the chance of predation.
- If smaller roach are smashing your maggots & casters, look to use more solid baits like corn & pellet to avoid their attentions.
- Cage feeders filled with liquidised bread crumb with punched bread on the hook is a great way of catching roach, especially as the explosion of the crumb in the water provokes a strong feeding response.