How to Identify Your Catch - Coarse Fish found in Britain

Pictures and Features to Aid you Identifying your catch.


Coarse Fish found in Britain


Common Carp

A Common Carp - notice completely covered with scales
Common carp are fully scaled, that is completely covered with scales. They have a large mouth, as do all varieties of carp, with the mouth facing downwards. Carp feed by hovering over the lake or stream bottom and wafting the bottom into a cloud of mud.
They then suck up the mud and filter any food out of it using their pharyngeal teeth. That is the teeth at the back of their throat, and blow out the unwanted cloudy mud through their gills. This means that when carp are feeding in the margins you should nearly always see the water becoming cloudy.
A good sign that they are on the searching for food. So where should you put your bait or ground bait?
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Leather Carp

A Leather Carp - notice bald - devoid of any scales
The Leather carp should have no scales at all. However, contrary to popular belief, a leather carp is not a mirror carp without scales; a distinct genetic difference exists. Leather carp are permitted a few scales either along the dorsal line or the wrist of the tail.
Leather carp also have reduced numbers of red blood cells, slowing growth rates, which makes larger leather carp extremely sought after and rare. Signs of feeding is exactly as for common carp.
click on image to enlarge
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Crucian Carp

A Crucian Carp - with red fins like a Roach
Crucian carp are short and dumpy. Their colouration varies greatly, like all carp, but in generally crucians have a rich golden colour.
They don’t have barbules which helps when determining between a true crucian carp and a ’normal’ carp.
The fins are very rounded and the dorsal fin is rounded with a convex shape (rounded outwards), unlike all other carp which have concave (rounded inwards) dorsal fin.

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A Barbel
Barbel are light brown to greenish brown in colour with yellowish sides. The barbel’s fins are darker except for the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins which are a yellowish orange. The body of the barbel is elongated with very small scales that makes them appear scale less.
The head of the barbel is pointed with rather small set high on the sides of the head. Barbel are easily recognised by its under slung mouth (indicating a bottom feeder) with thick lips with two short barbules on the top lip and two longer barbules underneath at the corner of its mouth.
The barbules have taste and touch cells that help the fish to locate food.They feed extensively on the bottom searching for fresh water shrimp, snails, insect larvae, caddis larvae, nymphs, crustaceans and molluscs, grubbing around among the bottom debris for the many micro-organisms which live there.
Barbel grow fairly rapidly and mature when they are five or six years old. Unbelievably fast and powerful even when a juvenile fish.
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A Dace
Nicknamed "the Dart" as a fast, lively, active fish, it earned it’s name because of the way it darts through the water.

Although closely related to the Chub, it is a smaller, more streamlined fish with concave (outside edge of fin bends inwards) anal and dorsal fins, whereas the Chub’s anal and dorsal fins are convex and red in colour. Dace also closely resemble the Roach, both in size and shape but the Roach has red eyes and the Dace has yellow eyes.
The Dace has a slender body, a narrow pointed head with large yellow eyes and a small mouth. The body has a greyish blue back with silvery flanks, a white belly and a narrow deeply forked tail, white ventral and anal fins tinged with pale red and the dorsal, pectoral and caudal fins are tipped black.
Dace easily hybridise with Chub and Roach producing Dace/Chub and Dace/Rudd hybrids which can make identification rather difficult. Dace are small fish and one of 8 ounces is considered a good catch. The current British rod-caught record Dace is 1 lb 5 oz 2dr.
Dace prefer clean, well oxygenated water, they are often found in shoals in mid water or near weirs and weir pools. They prefer rivers and streams with a sand or gravel bottom, the Dace are also found in lakes and still waters. Natural foods for Dace is algae, worms, insects, larvae of aquatic insects, snails and small crustaceans.
Dace are often seen feeding from the surface taking flies and non-aquatic insects.

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A Gudgeon
The similarity between the Gudgeon and the Barbel and their habits makes it difficult for the inexperienced angler to correctly identify them.
However, they are easily be identified - A gudgeon is small and slim with two barbules ( one barbule either side of its mouth ), whereas a barbel has four and much bigger, and a stone loach has six barbules (see below).
Gudgeon, like the Barbel, are bottom feeders and these barbules are usThe fins are brownish with faint dark bandinged to search for food on the bottom (of a lake, canal, stream or river) where it lives.
It is small, a fish of 6-9oz would could be a record, it has a rounded, elongated body with a slightly flattened belly and rather large scale less head with an under slung mouth and thick lips. The dorsal and anal fins are short and heavily spotted.
It is a silvery blue or greeny-brown on the back with a row of large, dark spots on the yellowish flanks.

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A typical Perch
Caution: Perch have a row of sharp pointed spines along the dorsal fin so use a cloth when handling them, and always move the cloth from head towards the tail to lay the dorsal fins down before any further handling. That way the spines are safe and out of the way. Their body is rough to the touch.
A perch is probably the first fish an angler catches as they almost "jump" on the hook and swallow the bait deep down. Perch will live in all waters, from still, slow and fast running water, to lakes, ponds, rivers and canals.
Perch can be found where there is underwater obstacles or structures, tree roots, weed beds and overhanging trees, these are all good places to hide and ambush anything edible.
Larger perch are predatory and will eat smaller fish such as minnows, roach and dace and their own young! Other food include; crustaceans, insects, flies, mayfly, caddis fly, larvae, worms and all fish fry. Maggots, sweetcorn and casters too.
Perch on average are 4oz - 1lb with anything over 2lb considered a specimen.

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A lovely Roach
A moderately deep bodied fish with silvery white sides, red/orange eyes, a silvery grey back with a bluish or greenish sheen, big silvery scales and red lower fins, earning their nickname of ’Redfin’.
Most fish will be 6 - 8ins long, but it can grow to 4lb or more. Any fish over 2lb is considered a good fish and a 3lb fish would considered a fish of a lifetime!
They are found just about everywhere in Lakes, ponds, rivers and canals.
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A picture of a Ruffe
A relative of the Perch and sometimes mistaken by young anglers as a baby perch due to the similar spiny dorsal fin.
A small fish, on average 4 to 5 inches long occasionally growing larger. With quite large eyes and a small, slightly down turned mouth with bristly teeth.
It is an olive green or pale brown colour speckled with dark spots. Larger spots on its back decreasing in size and fading to a whitish underbelly.
The Ruffe has two dorsal fins that are joined; the forward dorsal fin, like the Perch, has sharp spines and the rear fin has soft rays or spines.
Also, the gill covers of a Ruffe are sharp and spiny. Like the Perch handle them with a damp cloth.
Generally the Ruffe is a shoaling fish preferring slow moving rivers but can tolerate brackish waters, in rivers, lakes and ponds.
More active at dusk and dawn feeding on insects, larvae, worms and small fry fish.

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Wels Catfish

An alien fish introduced to Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire and now spread throughout the land. Good strong Pike like tackle needed to catch them. Beware of their teeth!
The catfish, so named for their prominent barbules that look like a cat’s whiskers is the longest and heaviest species of fish in the UK.
looking similar to an eel with a long scale less body, an enormous head with six ’whiskers’ protruding from it and an equally enormous mouth.
The large head tapers back to the large tail. It has a small dorsal fin and an anal fin that stretches backwards until it almost reaches the tail.
The paddle like pectoral fins are very large. With tiny eyes and two very long barbules, one protruding from underneath each eye, and four shorter barbules on the lower jaw.
The mouth is filled with lots of tiny soft teeth which are used to grip its prey before passing it backwards to the two sets of crushing pads deep in the throat.
The catfish is normally a dark greeny, brown black body with creamy yellowish sides that together give it a mottled camouflage effect.
A pointed flap of skin behind the vent indicates a male, and the females flap of skin is shorter and fatter.

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An alien fish originally introduced into the Fenland Drains of East Anglia in the early 1960’s.
They are now found throughout East Anglia and the Midlands in the river Trent, river Severn and Warwickshire Avon and Woburn and Old Bury Hill Lakes and the Gloucester Canals.
None in Scotland, Wales or Ireland.
They have similar features to the pike with their elongated body and the head of a perch with their spiny dorsal fin and small glassy eyes.
With a grey or brown coloured back with black dappling occurring in vague stripes similar to those of the perch but are clearer on young fish. Sometimes the stripes completely disappear in mature fish.
The Zander has two dorsal fins, the first is spiny with about 14 hard rays and black spots over a pale greyish yellow background, and the second is soft.
These spines and others on the gill cover and anal fin mean that the fish must be handled very carefully.
Again like the Perch and Pike use a damp cloth moved down from the head to close the dorsal fins and make them safe.
The tail is speckled grey with a white lower lobe.
The sides of young Zander are silvery, while an older Zander has greenish yellow sides, The underside and lower fins are generally white although a hint of blue is sometimes noticeable.
The mouth is large with prominent backward pointing teeth. Pairs of fang like teeth found on the front of the lower and upper jaws fitting into hollows in the opposite side of the jaw.
These are used to inflict a fatal wound and then to hold their prey.

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Rainbow Trout

A Rainbow Trout
Notice the bright red band along the flank of the Trout - this is typical Rainbow colouration, white belly and silvery back.

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