The Rudd is a fairly slim, deep-bodied fish. Richly coloured, with a green to Brassy-bronze upper back (green when young), burnished golden flanks becoming silver-white on the belly and have crimson red fins: though these can be a duller orange if living in coloured water. They have quite large eyes (orange when juvenile becoming gold as adults), and a protruding bottom jaw, which gives away it preferred method of feeding from above, whether it be on the water’s surface or as food falls through the water column of its habitat.
It is easy to avoid confusion with the Roach, with which inexperienced anglers commonly mistake it:
The Rudd is a shoaling fish and can be found between central and southern Continental Europe, generally preferring shallower lakes, ponds and slow rivers that have substantial beds of pondweed providing an ample supply of food, that remain clear most of the year. The Rudd can acclimatise to brackish conditions if necessary.
Rudd can often be out competed on fisheries by Roach that feed more aggressively, indeed the Rudd in Ireland showed a decline after non-native Roach were introduced in the 1950s.
Rudd usually swim with members of the same size, same year or same spawning class and will sexually mature between the ages of 2-3. They spawn at water temperatures between 14 °C to 23.5 °C, typically between late May and July in the UK. With approximately 20% more males, that are a little smaller in size than the females, taking part in the spawning process.
They reproduce by external fertilization with females able to produce between 100,000 – 200,000 eggs per kg of bodyweight, depending upon their health.
Their translucent pale pink eggs are approximately 1.5mm in diameter and once released are fertilised by the males in close attendance, they fall and and stick onto anything that they come into contact with: generally soft aquatic weeds, rush and reed stems, tree roots and marginal vegetation. They will generally take 10-12 days to hatch depending upon temperature.
The young fry soon feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton, and develop on a largely carnivorous diet of snails, aquatic insects, and small crustaceans. As they grow larger, they begin to feed on aquatic vegetation as well.
Since Rudd, Roach and Bream all spawn around the same time, the hybrids between them are quite common. It is the Rudd/Roach hybrid that causes most confusion, since they usually look like a true Rudd or Roach. The usual giveaways become confused with some having extended bottom jaws like a Rudd, but having the paler body of the Roach or Bream, while other fish may display a paler body but have the ‘keel’ like anal fin of the Rudd. Chub have also been know to hybridise with Rudd when sharing the same environment.
This great close up taken by Duncan Charman perfectly shows the protruding lower lip of the Rudd as a predominantly surface and mid-water feeder
Rudd will usually feed in the warmer shallow areas of a lake in the summer and move as a shoal to deeper waters in the winter. They enjoy the areas of lakes and ponds around large weed beds, such as lily pads and beds of rushes.
At dusk, during the warmer months of the year, when light values are low and the water has been warmed through the day, Rudd can feed strongly and with less caution. They will at timed feed during the heat of a summers day and the larger fish can often be caught at night when fishing bottom baits.
A float rod of 12-13 feet (4m) coupled with a fixed spool reel loaded with 2lb – 3lb (0.9 – 1.5kg) line, with a hooklength of about 1.5lb (0.7kg) breaking strain tied to a fine wire hook, allows the bait to fall as naturally as possible and not sink too quickly.
The best floats to use are crystal wagglers with the loaded variety best if casting is required. To shot these place the bulk shot either side of the float then add a couple of small dropper shot evenly spaced between float and hook to cock the float so that only 5-10mm is showing. The dropper shot also help the bait to break through any surface film, however these can be removed if allowed so the bait falls as slowly as possible through the water column searching out every inch of the swim, allowing rudd to intercept it as it falls. If rudd are showing close to the surface then you may only have to fish a few inches under the float, although setting the float to the depth of your swim is a good starting point and once the bait hits bottom, retrieve, feed some bait and recast. Remember to sink the line between the rod and float to reduce surface drift.
Ledgering may be effective where range is an issue or where float fishing is difficult due to adverse weather conditions. Using a slightly buoyant or popped up bait can aid presentation as well as making it considerably easier for a Rudd to take, however bottom baits will be taken but will not be so easily seen or eaten by the Rudd. The use of self hooking set-ups such as The Helicopter rig which incorporates a very short hooklink or swim feeders tactics are both effective, however make sure that these rigs are safe.
Rudd will readily take maggots, casters, bread, sweetcorn, pellets & small
6-10mm Boilies. If float fishing you will need to constantly loose feed around your float and cast regularly, however if ledgering feed can be introduced through feeders or within PVA bags.
Surface feeding Rudd can be quite easily found on a fishery where there is only a slight breeze. The use of polaroids is essential and a catapult to fire out some frees samples. Simply look for the ripples created as the fish feed on invertebrates and insects trapped in the surface layers, or by using small floating baits such as floating casters or small pieces of torn bread to drift downwind on the breeze until intercepted: remember that these same offerings will be quickly devoured by ducks and terns (which are increasingly present at some fisheries), if present. Small crystal wagglers or freelined baits will work well.
Surface feeding Rudd can be taken on floating baits in the right conditions and if wildfowl or nuisance fish are not present. Using pieces of bread flake or soft crust can work well, as can slow sinking flake if fish are shy. The use of a hair can help avoid detection of the crust when the Rudd test the bait before taking positively and has the added bonus of keeping your hookbait firmly attached to the rig. The use of fresh, not stale bread, will assist the bread/crust in ‘gripping’ either the hook or the hair as well as being stronger smelling. Artificial bread can be used to give casting distance, but only use small pieces as larger pieces are rejected by Rudd as they test the bait by sucking it into their mouths before swallowing if accepted.
Rudd can also be susceptible to artificial flies, with either dry flies or slow-sinking nymphs falling through the surface water layers providing interesting sport to those skilled in such practices. The areas around weed beds are good places to fish close to, where Rudd can wait in shelter before intercepting potential food that breaks the surface of falls close to or in front of them.
Stalking Rudd needs to be done carefully and you must take care not to be seen as they are easily spooked.
Rudd are known to take small fish on occasion and the use of artificial lures at the right times of year, when fry are plentiful and provide a fairly substantial meal, can be an unusual way to catch them !
Night fishing, whether margin fishing by float or ledgering can be very effective and often produces better fish. Rudd will feed right the way through the winter, however location is the key to success but if your lucky enough to find them then it’s the better fish that will show. One of the attached article is all about catching big Rudd in the winter at Frensham Great Pond.
Rudd of a small average size can be found in all of the Society’s lakes and ponds, with larger fish over 1lb being reasonably easy to catch at both Frensham Great & Frensham Little Ponds. Specimens of 2lb are a realistic target and some fish exceed 3lb in weight, with the FAS record of 3lb 6oz (3lb 14oz unclaimed), being caught from Frensham Great Pond.
That said, whilst these two fisheries have proven pedigree, remember that location is key to success. Rudd are present in all of out still waters and there could quite easily be a few larger fish that careful studying of the fishery may reveal previously unknown fish that have not been caught for many years.
Tarn Pond is full of small rudd, which supply consistent sport. Its great fun for the less experienced angler or the younger generation where keeping their interest is important.
|Clay lake, Co Armagh, Northern Ireland