Roach (Rutilus rutilus)

The inexperienced may be forgiven for finding it hard to tell the roach from the rudd. Judging from the numbers of hybrids between the two species, the fish themselves find identification difficult. Both have large scales and greenish backs but the flanks of the roach are silvery whereas the rudd has a golden sheen. Roach-bream crosses are also quite common, as are hybrids with chub and bleak. With their bright red-orange fins and distinctive red eyes, the roach in my mind, is a truly beautiful example of how a fish should look


Roach are widespread throughout England but are much less common in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. They prefer slow-moving rivers and still waters but are also found in faster-flowing rivers that are reasonably deep. They do not do well in fast, shallow streams.

Feeding habits

Fry and very young roach feed on plankton but as they grow they include algae and invertebrates such as snails and insect larvae, especially bloodworms, in their diet. Large specimens, particularly roach-bream hybrids, can become cannibals and feed mainly on fry. Roach do most of their feeding on the bottom, though at times they feed in mid-water and even come up to take insects that have fallen on the water surface.

Fish facts

Weight: Up to 2kg (4 1/2 lb)
Average Length: 36cm (14in)
Life-span: 10-15 years
Favourite waters: Slow-moving rivers, Canals and still waters.
Favourite baits: Casters, Hempseed, Bread, Maggots, Red Worms
UK Record: 4lbs 3oz (R N Clarko 1993)