Rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus)
In the UK, rudd usually weigh between 2-8 oz (50-200g).
LC – Least Concern
In the UK, rudd typically spawn between late May and July, once water temperatures have reached 14-24°C. Male rudd are 20% more abundant than females and are slightly smaller in size. The females produce an astounding amount of eggs, between 100,000-200,000 per kg of bodyweight.
The eggs are around 1.5mm in diameter, pale pink in colour and somewhat translucent. Fertilisation is completed by the males which are nearly always close to the females throughout spawning season, the fertilised eggs then fall and bind to obstructions in the water, generally aquatic weeds, rush and reed stems. The young fry emerge around ten days later and initially feed on zooplankton and phytoplankton in the water. As they grow, so does their carnivorous instinct and they soon begin to feed on aquatic insects, snails and small crustaceans.
A note on hybrids
Because Bream, Roach and Rudd all spawn at roughly the same point in the year, hybrids between the species are not impossible and are in fact quite common. The Rudd-Roach hybrid causes the most confusion amongst anglers, as the two species are already quite tricky to distinguish between. A Rudd-Roach hybrid will often look mostly like a true Rudd or Roach, but will have some confounding features, such as an extended bottom jaw, when everything else about the fish suggests it to be Roach, or vice versa. Look out for these strange specimens!
Deemed by many as the most attractive shoaling coarse fish, the rudd is a slim, moderately deep-bodied fish with an overall smooth, slick sheen to it. It boasts opulent colours, with a green-bronze back (olive-green in young fish), with bright golden flanks which fade to pale cream on its underbelly. In comparison to its body, the rudd’s head is particularly small, but it houses large, golden coloured eyes (which are orange in young fish).
The rudd’s bottom jaw protrudes past the top, giving away the fact that it prefers to feed from above, be that on the water’s surface, or on food as it falls through the water. Its pelvic and anal fins are usually bright red (but can be dull orange if living in coloured water), whilst the pectoral, dorsal and tail fins are sort of a muddy-red colour.
Rudd are often mistaken for roach, the easiest way to distinguish between the two is to look out for the brilliant colouring of the rudd’s fins and its bottom jaw which is set forward, unlike the roach which has its upper jaw set forward.
So how do we catch one?
The Rudd is a sporting fish and, like the Chub, can be caught using a range of baits, from artificial flies to maggots. Their natural diet mainly consists of insects, found at the surface. During winter months however this insect diet may become insufficient and so they will turn their attention to the bottom, where they forage in the silt and vegetation.
Rudd are known to readily take casters, sweetcorn, bread, maggots and small 6-8mm boilies. If you’re float fishing, make sure to introduce some free samples of hook bait around the float and cast regularly. If you’re ledger fishing for rudd, introduce some bait through feeders or via PVA bags.
Favourite Feeding Places
During summer, rudd like to feed in the warmer, shallower areas of the lake or pond, once winter hits, they migrate as a shoal to the deeper regions. Rudd tend to feed around large weed beds, such as lily pads or rush beds.
Summer and autumn are the best seasons for rudd fishing, in the winter they tend to hide and are very inactive. A great time to fish for rudd is at dusk during the warmer months, as limited light levels and water which has been heated by the sun throughout the day, cause the rudd to feed with confidence.
With that said, they are also known to feed during the hottest points of a summers day, and large rudd can also be caught when fishing at night, using bottom baits.
The rudd is generally found in still waters and is well distributed throughout the UK’s many still water coarse fisheries such as ponds, lakes and canals. They can, occasionally be found in sluggish rivers, too. Rudd will survive and thrive in bodies of water which boast large amounts of pondweed and/or bodies of water which remain clear for most of the year.
A float rod of 12-13 feet (4 m) paired with a fixed spool reel loaded with 2-3 lb (0.9–1.5 kg) line is a great way to go. A hooklength of about 1.5lb (0.7 kg) breaking strain tied to a fine wire hook should also be used and will allow the bait to sink in a natural manner, making it more attractive to the fish.
Loaded crystal waggler floats are perfect for when casting is required, to shot these floats correctly, position the bulk shot on both sides of the float and include some smaller dropper shot, evenly spaced between the float and hook. This smaller dropper shot is used to cock the float and only 5-10mm should be showing. The dropper shot also helps the bait break through any surface film which may be present, this is useful when fishing light baits. If bites are proving hard to come by and breaking through any surface film is not an issue, it can be worth removing the dropper shot, as doing so will allow the bait to fall very slowly through the water, affording the rudd more time to take it as it falls.
If rudd are present close to the surface, you may only need to fish a few inches under the float. Despite this, it is still recommended to set the float to the depth of your swim as a starting point, once the bait hits the bottom, retrieve it, introduce some bait into the swim, and recast. Don’t forget to sink the line between the rod and float to lower the surface drift.
Ledgering for rudd is also an effective method and recommended when float fishing is not appropriate, often due to either poor weather conditions or when range is an issue. Using a bait which is slightly buoyant or popped up will make it more attractive to rudd and also make it easier for the rudd to bite, due to the shape of their mouths. Self-hooking rigs, such as the ‘helicopter rig’ (which makes use of a very short hooklink) and swim feeder tactics are both very effective but make sure that they are permitted in the water that you are fishing.
Rudd fight in a similar manner to the roach, therefore to get the best sport, employing light tackle is strongly recommended. A size 14 hook is perfect, even for the larger specimens.
Fishing from a boat is a popular method when out after rudd. Beginners should be cautious though, as rowing over the area that you want to fish is easy to do and will prevent bites. When in a boat, let it drift the last few yards towards the swim, lower the anchor gently into the water to avoid splashing. Use a small float and a light amount of shot. Not using any shot can also be effective, as it will cause the bait to sink slowly and naturally, making it more attractive to the fish.