The hardy roach

The hardy roach

The inexperienced may be forgiven for failing to distinguish the roach from the rudd. Judging from the numbers of hybrids between the two species, the fish themselves find identification difficult. Both have large scales and greenish backs but the flanks of the roach are silvery whereas the rudd has a golden sheen. Roach-bream crosses are also quite common, as are hybrids with chub and bleak.

Follow the feeding

Fry and very young roach feed on plankton but as they grow they include algae and invertebrates such as snails and insect larvae, especially bloodworms, in their diet. Large specimens, particularly roach-bream

In common with many other members of the carp family, male roach often develop grey-white warty lumps on the head (and occasionally the body) before spawning. These are known as tubercles and are about the size of a pinhead. Males can only be easily distinguished from females when these lumps are present. hybrids, can become cannibals and feed mainly on fry. Roach do most of their feeding on the bottom, though at times they feed in midwater and even come up to take insects that have fallen on the water surface.


Roach are widespread throughout England but are much less common in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. They prefer slow-moving rivers and still waters but are also found in faster flowing rivers that are reasonably deep. They do not do well in fast, shallow streams. They are a fairly tolerant species and can even be found in quite barren or polluted waters.

In some waters roach are not subject to much predation and this can lead to overcrowding, with large numbers of small roach up to about 4oz (113g). Stunting can also occur in acid waters that are poor in nutrients. In reservoirs, gravel pits and chalk streams which are nutrient rich and where pike, perch and trout tend to reduce numbers, the roach are far fewer but larger. It is at waters like these that specimen and record roach can be caught. On average it takes about nine or ten years for roach to reach full size though this does depend on the availability of food.

Spawning takes place in the shallows between April and June, the yellowish eggs sticking to plants and stones. Roach are prolific, averaging 20,000 eggs per 1lb (0.45kg) of body weight – another reason they are so widespread. With a mild spring, spawning takes place early and a greater number of the fry survive. Usually, though, this simply means that there is more food available for the predators. among water plants, until small fish such as bleak or roach stray too close. The school then sets off in pursuit, harrying the quarry until it is too tired to swim further. Perch catch their prey by biting the tail repeatedly from behind and below to restrict swimming. Characteristically the capture and swallowing of the perch’s prey