The larger fish discussed elsewhere in this section often live alongside shoals of gudgeon, if you’re after these larger fish species, particularly if you’re trotting a glide with maggots, gudgeon can be a frustrating pest.
Despite this they can also be a lot of fun too. If you are just wanting to spend a couple of hours out by the water after a day’s work, or if you are wanting to save a blank after the big fish tactics have let you down, gudgeon will often oblige.
Gudgeon (Gobio gobio)
An average gudgeon weighs between 1-2 oz (30-60 g) and is between 3-4 inches (7-12 cm) in length. Anything above 2oz (60 g) would be considered an impressive specimen.
LC – Least Concern
A Note On Spawning
Gudgeon normally spawn between May and June once water temperatures reach a consistent 14°C. The females lay their sticky eggs, which are surprisingly large and off-white in colour, amongst weeds and stones. The fry emerge around 10 days later.
The gudgeon is the barbel’s smaller cousin, its body is small, slender and very straight. It has a green-brown back with silver flanks and a white underbelly. Its fins are small, lack serrated rays and are grayish-white in colour with a brown tint and dark speckles. The gudgeon’s head is quite large in comparison to its body and its upper jaw is slightly larger than the bottom. It can be easily identified from other small coarse fish by the dark blotches decorate its flanks and its two barbels – one at each corner of its mouth.
So how do we catch one?
Gudgeon are exclusively bottom feeders, feeding throughout the year on worms, aquatic insects, small mollusks and pretty much anything which lives down there. Maggots, particularly pinkies work well when fishing for gudgeon.
Gudgeon can be caught all year round and feed at pretty much any temperature.
Gudgeon are bottom-living fish, they exist in shoals which can hold hundreds of individuals and can be found in virtually every type of waterway in the UK, although they favour rivers with gravel or sandy bottoms. They are often caught by anglers chasing other species such as dace or roach and can also withstand pollution levels which would prove toxic for other fish species.
The tackle really doesn’t have be anything fancy at all, a simple stick float will do the job, shot it shirt button style, or if fishing short fast runs, bunch the shot up at the bottom half of the line. Use a size 16 or 18 hook with a 2-2.5 lb hook length and a single maggot on the hook.
Swims which have slower zones just off the main flow are great spots to catch gudgeon, they also really like back eddies where the current swirls back on itself and allows the float to cycle around with the current. Whilst fishing such an area may look really wrong, it is actually an effective way to catch gudgeon.
Groundbait and small portions of loose feed should be thrown in regularly to keep the gudgeon in the swim and interested.
Stealth is not a necessity when fishing for gudgeon, but it is still worth being quiet and careful as there may be more desirable species such as roach or perch in the swim which could be encouraged to bite if you feed half a dozen maggots or so with each cast.
Include a few free samples of your hook bait with each cast and let the float work around the swim while holding the rod. Bites are not often fickle, usually the float will dive suddenly below the surface and all that is required from the angler is a stiff strike to hook the fish.
If you do get a bite from something larger, be ready to give line. As we said earlier, by providing free samples of your hook bait it is possible to attract a more desirable fish such as a roach or perch.