Gudgeon Fishing in the UK: Fish Spotlight Series

Gudgeon Fish Spotlight Series Guide UK

Welcome to another instalment in our Spotlight Series where we explore the fascinating world of fish found in UK waters. Today, we're diving into the life of the Gudgeon (Gobio gobio), a small but mighty presence in our rivers and canals. Despite its modest size, the Gudgeon has a lot to offer to the keen angler and nature enthusiast alike. Let's explore this species in detail.

Appearance: More Than Meets the Eye

At first glance, the Gudgeon might not seem like much to write home about. However, this little fish is a study in understated elegance. With an elongated, round body and a notably large head for its size, the Gudgeon could be mistaken for a small barbel at a distance. Unlike its larger cousin, the Gudgeon sports only one pair of whisker-like barbels around its mouth, a key distinguishing feature. Its back is dark, adorned with dark bars along its flanks, while its belly is speckled and pale, all culminating in a deeply forked tail.

Gudgeon fish underwater

Habitat: Thriving in the Fast Lane

Gudgeons have a preference for the bottom of fast-running waters, where they can use their barbels to sift through sand and gravel for food. These adaptable fish are not just limited to rivers; they're also commonly found in canals, making their home across a variety of water bodies. The branches of the River Thames are particularly rich in Gudgeon, showcasing their preference for clean, oxygen-rich environments.

Behavior: Life on the Riverbed

Diet-wise, Gudgeons aren't picky. They feast on a buffet of small invertebrates, from mayfly larvae to freshwater shrimps. Occasionally, they might even indulge in fish eggs. This diet reflects their role in the aquatic ecosystem, helping to control populations of smaller organisms and contributing to the health of their habitat.

Angling Tips: Catching the Elusive Gudgeon

Despite their small size, Gudgeons are a popular catch among anglers, particularly match anglers. To catch a Gudgeon, you'll want to use small hooks (size 20 or 22) and baits such as pinkies or maggots. They're particularly fond of sweet-smelling ground bait, so consider using this to your advantage. Remember, Gudgeons are often found just off the bottom of rivers and canals, so aim your bait accordingly.

Fishing on UK Rivers for Gudgeon Fish

Best Weather/Time of Day for Catching Gudgeon

Gudgeons are not overly picky about the weather, but like many fish, they tend to be more active and easier to catch in the early morning or late evening. Overcast days with a slight breeze can also be ideal, as this weather tends to bring insects to the water's surface, encouraging Gudgeon to feed more actively.

In summary, the Gudgeon may be small, but it plays a significant role in the aquatic ecosystem and offers a delightful challenge to anglers. Whether you're a seasoned fisher or a curious nature lover, there's much to appreciate about this humble fish thriving in the UK's rivers and canals.

If you're more of a visual learner, be sure to check out Chasing Scales YouTube video! They have awesome insights into a range of fishing subjects.


Q: Can Gudgeon be found all year round?
A: Yes, Gudgeon are present in UK waters throughout the year, though their activity levels and feeding habits might change with the seasons.

Q: Are Gudgeon good to eat?
A: While not commonly consumed in the UK, Gudgeon are edible. In some cultures, smaller fish like Gudgeon are used in cooking, often as a size reference for slicing fish or meat, known as "goujon" in French.

Q: What is the conservation status of Gudgeon?
A: Gudgeon are currently listedas "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. This indicates that they are not at immediate risk of extinction, reflecting their adaptability and the relatively healthy state of their populations.

Q: How big do Gudgeon get?
A: Gudgeon are generally small, with many measuring just half an ounce or less. The British record for a Gudgeon is 5oz, a testament to the occasional surprises these little fish can offer.

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