GUDGEON Gobio gobio

Waters: Mainly rivers and streams, occasionally canals and lakes, and enclosed waters fed by rivers. Baits: Maggots, small worms, wheat, hemp, bread, bloodworms. Techniques: Leger, feeder leger, float-leger, laying-on.

Gudgeon are very widely distributed throughout Britain, Europe and Asia. A member of the carp family, which also includes fish such as the bleak. Roach and dace, the gudgeon is easily recognised by its shape and size. Rarely, gudgeon are mistaken for very small barbel, but this species has two pairs of barbels whereas the gudgeon has one pair. On average it weighs 1 -2oz (28-55g) and is 5-6in (13-15cm) long. The coloration of the gudgeon is greyish-brown on the back, yellowish and rather blotchy on the sides and silvery on the belly. A row of spots runs along each flank.

They are bottom-living fish, which swim in small shoals and feed on insect larvae, small molluscs and crustaceans. The tiny fry eat plankton. Most shallow river swims can be expected to produce gudgeon. They prefer gravelly areas, where they gather in large numbers. Where there-are shallow swims close to the bank, just away from the main flow of the river, gudgeon can congregate in huge shoals. Other likely places are laybys and lock cuttings.

It is surprising how decisive the bite of a gudgeon can be, pulling a quivertip round strongly. Many an angler has been led to believe a much more worthy fish has taken the bait. The fish is also notorious for managing to swallow baits intended for much larger fish. They are often caught unintentionally by match anglers, who accept them as part of their total weights; in fact such anglers are often very pleased to find a shoal of gudgeon in their allocated swim, for this small fish has helped many an angler into the top spot of a competition.

The best angling methods are trotting and laying-on with float tackle. Using a swim-feeder leger is often very successful, for any gudgeon in the area are quickly attracted to the offerings wriggling out of the container.

Small fish demand light tackle, both to make the sport acceptable and to present the bait properly. A small fine-wire hook is used, to suit the bait.

The best bait is the redworm. Those longer than 2in. (5cm (should be cut in two, and the hook point inserted in the cut end. Possibly the most successful bait is the bloodworm, but unless you can collect them yourself they can prove an expensive bait for such a small quarry.

The most readily obtainable bait is the ubiquitous maggot -cheapand the right size, even when fished singly. Whatever the hookbait, use maggots as loose feed to encourage the gudgeon to congregate. A baitdropper is the best means of placing feeder maggots on the bottom. They will not be carried so far by the current.

Entrances to locks and similar habitats usually hold plenty of gudgeon. Bottom-living fish, they can be caught using float-leger, with light tackle.

An added attraction iscloudbait, used in conjunction with the feeder maggots. Gudgeon are not the most exciting fish for the regular angler, but they are-very useful quarry for youngsters and beginners because they are easy to catch and prolific.

A small bait or beginner’s fish, the gudgeon has rather a large head for its size. Groundbaiting and raking the river bottom should encourage a shoal to feed.