There are many freshwater species, some more difficult to catch than others.
As a beginner into angling, it’s always rewarding to catch something rather than wondering what you were doing wrong and go home with a blank on our early trips to the bank side. The species below are listed in the easiness to catch.
Roach – The humble roach is one of our smallest freshwater species but it’s one of our most sought after, especially when they reach specimen proportions.
They are a sleek fish having silvery blue flanks, large orange-rimmed eyes, white/cream underbelly and red fins. The lips of this fish are level, unlike the very similar size, shape and coloured rudd, whose lower lip protrudes. Roach tend to undertake a slight colouration throughout the year. In summer their flanks become quite brassy, while in winter the scales upon the flanks take on a really attractive blue tinge.
The dorsal and forked tail fin are darkly coloured and tinged with crimson. In normal conditions the average size of roach caught on rod and line will be around the 4-8oz mark. In lush and food-packed venues it will quickly pile on
weight and can quickly ascertain a specimen size of 2lb and over. They also become harder to catch the larger in size they get and are found throughout the Broads.
Rudd – A rudd’s fins range from orange to scarlet, depending on water clarity, and they will be brighter in clearer water. The scales are a reflective, burnished gold – in fact, so reflective that when photographing rudd in daylight, you often have to under expose by one full stop because otherwise it is all too easily over exposed.
An adults back will be a brassy bronze colour, whereas an adolescent rudd’s back will have a green hue to it. Like the Roach a shoaling fish relatively easy to catch in the summer months in the surface layers of the open Broads. Easy to spot as they show on the surface.
Perch – The perch is a predatory fish, which will take surprising large baits for their size. The only fish that perch could possibly be mixed up with is a small ruffe. Its back and shoulders are a dark olivey colour, which fades gradually into a lighter olive, sometimes with a golden tinge, along its flanks, with a silvery cream belly. Perch have between seven to nine vertical stripes, giving them the nickname of “stripies”.
Its tail, pelvic and anal fins are a bright orange-red, and behind its sharp gill plate are its pectorals, which are completely translucent. It has two separate dorsal fins (here, the ruffe is different, which a continous dorsal fin) – these bristle when the perch is chasing food or alarmed. Its front dorsal has spikes and dark patches, whereas the second dorsal has soft branched rays.
The perch has very rough scales and a has no teeth, as such, in its extremely large mouth – its expandable bony jaws are capable of engulfing a fish nearly half its size. The perch is one of the most successful predators out there, partially due to its fantastic camouflage. They shoal according to year class, and its not unusual to catch them one after another. Anything above 2lb, and 16inches in length is considered to be a fine catch.
Bream – The smaller bream known to anglers as “skimmers” are very prevalent throughout the Broads system and relatively easy to catch. Bream are fairly easy to distinguish from all other species of British freshwater fish. It has a very deep and flat body, a mouth that protrudes quite far from the fish’s head, long dorsal and tail fins, plus a coating of thick and rather smelly slime.
Once they grow to around 2lbs or a kilo they loose their light sliver colour and adopt a more bronze nature and make up many of the larger catches taken fishing overnight across the Broads when the boat traffic has subsided.
Bream are a shoaling species. They are the equivalent to an underwater herd of cows, travelling together and feeding slowly, methodically and ravenously. They grow quite large and will very quickly mop-up a massive amount of food when a shoal of bream move over it.
Dace – A fish that likes clean flowing fast water, not really liking the tidal reaches with its salt water. The dace could quite easily be mistaken for a tiny roach or even a baby chub as they are all quite similar. But here’s how to ensure that you know your dace from your other silver fish.
Dace have slim, rounded bodies with small and flat scales. The head is small and the mouth quite dainty. You will find that dace have silver flanks, white underbelly and dark brown/green backs. Both the forked tail and the dorsal fin are an almost translucent grey, while all the fins on the underside of the fish range from a dirty yellow to pale pink. The main way to distinguish the dace is to take a look at its dorsal and anal fins – they curve inwards (concave). They don’t grow as large as roach and a 12oz Dace is deemed as a specimen.
Tench – are a tremendously interesting fish with a bright beady red eye and these well-muscled great fighters who feed on the bottom most of the time are a true joy to land. The tench is one of Britain’s most distinguishable and loveable fish, with its olive green flanks, tiny red eyes and powerful grey-brown fins. Anglers cannot fail but recognise this beautiful species.
If there’s one word that best describes a tench it is power. Even tiny finger-long tench will wriggle and writh their way out of your hands in a flash. And their strength, coupled with the tiny scales and their mucus-covered bodies makes the tench a difficult fish to handle at the best of times.
Carp – Carp were introduced into the UK for food by monks as far back as the 13th century and today are one of the most popular targeted species by anglers. They are not native to the Broads and only existing in small numbers.
Today it is by far Britian’s most popular species. It graces almost every single stillwater and has found its way into almost every river and canal. Carp can even be found in the Broads system too.
It is a fabulous species that, when small, provides great year-round sport. But when they have grown on and packed on the pounds, they offer a real challenge to those anglers who are prepared to sit it out and wait for a specimen to come along.
Chub – is more of a loner and a strong chunky durable fish loving the cover of overhanging bushes or trees on flowing water. The chub is a fairly aggressive fish that is by far one of this country’s most greedy species but, by the same token, it’s one of the most wily of all our fish. They are only found in the upper reaches on the Broadland river however.
Creeping close enough to catch feeding chub, moving out from under weed rafts of a clear, shallow stream takes some stealth. As soon as one notices the skyline being broken or senses heavy footsteps it will take the whole shoal downstream or under cover, never to appear again for hours. This coupled with the fact that chub can ascertain great weights and they have the fighting power to back their weight up, makes these fish a very worthy target indeed.
Pike – The Broads has been famous for sustaining some of the largest pike stocks in the UK. With record fish being caught over the last decade. Pike fishing is not for the beginner as handling Pike takes some experience, both for the Pike and the Angler.
As far as fossilised remains show, pike has been around longer than all other freshwater species in the British Isles, showing that it is not only the ultimate predator, but also the ultimate survivor. A pike’s large, powerful tail propels it forward at impressive speed. A pike will catch its prey fish more often than not, however, due to its poor timing it will miss every now and again. Its colossal jaws allow is to swallow anything little smaller than itself.
Almost regardless of the weather, pike can be caught at any point from June through to March. In most fisheries, a pike around 20lb, usually measuring around 40in, is considered the specimen size to aim for, although its ultimate weight potential is probably around 50lb.