Minnows have small, slender bodies with a blunt nose and a small down-turned mouth. They have dark green/brown backs and flanks that have dark blotches along them and a gold stripe; the belly is a creamy white/yellow in colour. The fins are very pale brown and the caudal fin is deeply forked. They have quite large eyes to allow them to be ever watchful for predators.
Females grow larger than the male Minnows, which are generally very small and those caught will be between 5-7cm, with a 10cm fish being a specimen. Interestingly, the British record Minnow was actually caught from a lake in Durham in 1998.
Minnows are one of the most abundant British fish, inhabiting clean, well oxygenated water and are mainly found in streams and rivers, occasionally being found in clean lakes and ponds. Minnow eat tiny crustaceans, freshwater shrimps, insect larvae and algae and aquatic plants.
Generally swimming in shoals that range in size considerably, forever alert and darting quickly in response to food or danger that they face from every angle. They form an important part of the food chain for Kingfishers and are also predated by all predatory fish, when alarmed they can instantly turn very pale as a defence.
The European Minnow is found throughout Europe and into Eurasia and there are 100s of different species of Minnows throughout the world.
Minnows spawn several times between April – August, a long breeding season compared to most UK freshwater fish. They spawn in shoals over stones and gravel with each female releasing between 500-1,000 eggs whilst the males that have developed bright red bellies fertilize them before they stick to the underlying substrate. The eggs hatch within just 5-10-days, dependant upon temperature, with fry growing quickly and developing into sexually mature fish within a year.
Most fish are lucky to reach the age of 3 due to predation, but can live longer, with captive fish having reached 8 years of age.
Fish for any other species whatsoever on a river and the Minnow will find your bait, unless it is heavy enough that they cannot move it or so hard that they can not gain anything from it, they are likely to attack it remorselessly ! To catch them, simply put on a size 20 hook and a single maggot when using a small float just off the main flow: you will often see them attack free offerings, its just a matter of a few seconds for your float to go under.
Keep a couple of Minnows in a bait box in fresh water and a spare rod with a simple perch live baiting rig, so it can quickly be cast if you see the shoal suddenly disperse in all directions or jump clear of the water.
Minnows are the bait robbers extraordinaire, somehow capable of consuming bait much larger than appears possible.
On Farnham Angling Society waters, try any of the river sections for Minnows.
|00:00:13.5||0.24||1998||J Sawyer||Whitworth Lake, Spennymoor|