Roach fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods and techniques.
The Roach is a member of the Carp family with relatively large scales firmly embedded in its skin. It has a dark brown or grey back with a bluish or greenish lustre, silvery white sides and a white belly. The Roach is one of the commonest fish in UK waters and can be found in still-waters, canals and rivers, where it feeds on crustaceans, aquatic plants and detritus. The Roach is generally found living in shoals and often feeds at all levels. American minnow, the golden shiner (Notemigonus chrysoleucus), is also called roach.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
Roach - Rutilus rutilus,
family Cyprinidae, Carp family, also known as "The roach" locally,
Плотва in Russian, is a freshwater and brackish water fish native to most of Europe and western Asia. The common roach is found throughout Europe except for the area around the Mediterranean and its distribution reaches eastward into Siberia. In Eastern Europe and Asia there are several subspecies, some with an anadromous lifecycle living around the Caspian and Black Sea. Around the Mediterranean and in northwestern part of Spain and Portugal several closely related species occur with no overlap in their distribution.
The roach is typically a small fish, often reaching no more than about 14-15 inches (35-38 cm). Maximum length is 45 cm. The roach has a rather streamlined oval shape, being four times as long as it is wide. The shape of this fish may change according to their environment. The faster the water moves the slimmer the fish is. They have an elongated tailfin with silver scales. Barbels are absent, no adipose fin. The number of scales along the lateral line is 39-48. The dorsal and anal fin has 12-14 rays. Young specimen have a slender build, older specimen get a higher and broader body shape.
The body has a bluish silvery color and becomes creamy white at the belly. The back is an olive-green or dull bluish and the fins are tinged red, the brightest being the pelvic and anal fins. Dorsal (top) and tail fins are usually greyish-brown, other fins orange or orange-red. The roach can often be recognized by the big red spot in the iris above and beside the pupil but not in every environment. Colors of the eye and fins can be very bleach.
The roach has four pairs of gills set side by side that have hairs whose function is to keep foreign particles out. The gills together form a V-shaped set. There are also the gill slits which are used as exchange surfaces to extract oxygen from the water. The heart is found beside the gills, which allows blood to be pumped through the gills with a considerable pressure. The circulatory system is otherwise rather simple. Deoxygenated blood passes through the heart only once.
The roach has a head with eyes, and blunt snout. Gape of mouth does reach beyond the eye. No teeth on jaws. Moderate sized, firmly attached scales. Tail is strongly forked with rather pointed tips. The roach also has a lateral line along each side, running from one end of its body to the other. This line of special scales is equipped with holes which connect the fish's outer body to the nervous system, enabling it to detect movements nearby by picking up small variations in long wavelengths in the water, caused by movements of other creatures.
The roach can most easily be confused with
The Common Rudd, the dace and
The Common Rudd has a more yellow/greenish or golden color. The backfin is placed more backwards and between the tip of the ventral scales and the first ray of the anal fin there are only one or two scales. The roach will have 4 or 5 scales there. The mouth of The Rudd is more upturned and the head appears sharper.
The dace has a greenish body, colorless eyes and fins and a distinct nose.
The Ide has a higher number of scales along the lateral line (55-61), a rounder body and a bigger mouth and head.
Habitat and Habits
The roach prefers to feed in the deeper parts of water bodies but can be found in any water body deeper then 20 cm and wider then 1.5 m and will adapt to local circumstances. The roach likes depths of about 2 or 3 m (6-9 ft); it also enjoys weedy waters. The roach will prefer waters that are somewhat vegetated, because vegetation larval and young fish are protected by the vegetation and the mature fish can use it for food. It has a great tolerance for organic pollution and is one of the last species to disappear but is on the other hand also often the most numerous cyprinid in nutrient poor water bodies. It also has a tolerance for brackish water. Able to withstand a wide temperature range (8-38°C). The lethal temperature is around 31 °C. In the cold season they migrate to deep waters where they form large and dense schools.
This fish like to gather and stay in schools, bigger ones keep themselves somewhat apart from the others. Schools will mix with rudd and bream and when it is time to spawning, which is in the late spring and early summer, the roach will fertilize the eggs of these other species and vice versa. When the eggs hatch the roach will also eat their young. This fish is usually a bottom feeder; however, it will rise to the surface to take hatching insects. The roach tend to overbreed leading to a stunted fish population because there is a lack of natural food.
The roach are an omnivorous fish, often feeding in schools and mostly a bottom feeder, but also take terrestrial insects at the surface in warm weather. They eat plant material, bottom dwelling (benthic} invertebrates and plancton. Young fish feed mainly on plancton, the mature fish will feed mainly on benthos. It can adapt to environments where invertebrates are scarce by slow growth, maintaining a slender body shape and early maturation.
Females usually mature at 2-3 years of age, males at 1-2 years. The spawning season for common roach is from April to June or July when the water's temperature is at least 54°F (12 °C). Most often spawning occurs on sunny days in shallows amongst vegetation. Roach will generally use the same spawning location as the previous year. It has been observed that big males form schools where the females enter and have their eggs fertilized by males trailing the female. The behavior is rough and the fish will often jump out of the water. The females can lie from 50,000 to 100,000 eggs. When the pH of the water is below 5.5 the roach will not be able to reproduce successfully. Eggs are small and hatch about 4-10 days later. Larval fish attach themselves to aquatic vegetation for a few days before swimming freely. Roach grow slowly over a span of 2 or 3 years.
Float fished and legered baits will catch Roach. Steady loose feeding will tempt the shoal to feed and become confident. Popular baits are maggot, castors, small red-worms and bread either punch or flake. Other baits that can be used are hempseed, tares, sweet corn and bloodworm.
A float such as a waggler with small shot (no.6 or 8) spread evenly down the line and plumbed to allow the hook to sit on or just off the bottom, will allow the bait to fall gradually with loose feed through the water. Initially bites may well come once the bait has settled but as the Roach starts to feed often bites start to be taken whilst on the drop. Once this happens keep up with the loose feed, little and often, but shorten the depth of the main line. Be prepared to have to return it to its original setting though should the shoal become spooked. Groundbait used sparingly can also tempt a wary shoal into feeding.
Stick floats work equally well in flowing water, again with a similar set-up.
Legered baits also need loose fed samples around the hook-bait, this is where swim-feeders come into their own. Either a closed feeder for maggots or an open ended feeder with a mix of ground-bait and samples of hook-bait, cast repeatedly into the same area is an effective method.
Roach initially tend to be shy and the bites may often appear as little more than a knock or dip of the float but once they become confident the bites will become more positive. Pole fishing is particularly effective, again with a float set as above.
Fast, sucked out maggot, roach bites can be turned into fish in the net by simply side-hooking the maggot instead of through the blunt end as we normally do. As the fish possibly gain confidence through loose-feeding, they compete more and take quicker leading to positive but hard to hit bites. Experiment and see if it works for you. When fishing for Roach feed the swim heavily before fishing. For hook bait use a cocktail of one maggot and one caster, and you will be catching both rudd and roach all day long.
Essential for good catches is regular feeding to keep the shoal active and feeding around the bait. For roach mostly fixed rods are used, and for larger rods also match rods – poles and swim feeders. The line doesn't need to be thicker than 0.12 mm and the hook not more than a size 12. Thinner lines and smaller hooks will produce more fish especially when the roaches are of small size. The best catches with fixed float fishing are often made when the bait is presented just a few cm above the bottom.
Boilies and luncheon meat are generally avoided by Roach because they are too large for them to swallow. Because it is a schooling species, it is not unusual for an individual fish to be caught many times during a single session, and sometimes a larger, specimen individual could be waiting outside the shoal. Roach are infamous for their ability to throw the hook during a catch, which further perpetuates the idea that larger roach are notoriously difficult to bank. It is possible to make large catches in harbours where large shoals are concentrated in the winter season. Flyfishing in such places with sinking artificial flies with a gold colored bead for a head on long leaders can produce good catches and often specimen roach are caught that way.