Gudgeon - Gobio Gobio

Gudgeon is another one of the minor coarse species to be found in British waters. It is related to the barbel, although is a much smaller version of it.

It can be a popular addition in angling matches where large numbers will increase a catch and may lead to a win, but other than this gudgeon are only used for bait to catch larger species such as pike, trout or perch.

In France gudgeon is a very popular fish at mealtimes but it is no longer consumed in the UK, although was once considered a delicacy.

Gudgeon Identification

The gudgeon is a small fish that rarely exceeds 8 inches (20cm) in length.

As it is related to the barbel there are some similarities. It has an underslung mouth with one set of barbules that hang down from each side. As it feeds on the bottom of the bed, its mouth adapts by extending to a tube-like shape with which it sucks up food. It can be distinguished from a small barbel as gudgeon only possess one set of barbules whilst barbel possess two.

It is fairly slender in shape yet very powerful and therefore able to cope in fast-flowing waters. Its belly is flat, which also helps when swimming along the bottom scouting for food.

It is silvery blue in colour along its back with purpley-brown patches on its sides. Its tail is deeply forked and contains black spots, as does its dorsal fin. The body is covered in numerous large scales.

Gudgeon Habitat

Gudgeon are widespread throughout Europe but are only native to southern parts of England. They have been introduced to other regions in more recent years.

They are not really found in Scotland and are only located in specific areas of Wales and Ireland.

Gudgeon are not particularly fussy about the type of water that they live in, so long as it is fresh. They will make their home in fast-flowing rivers, dirty canals, gravel pits, lakes and small streams preferably with a gravel or sandy bottom.

During the summer they love to swim in the shallows and feed, whilst as the weather turns colder they will retreat to deep pools where the temperature is slightly warmer.
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Natural Gudgeon Food

As the gudgeon is adapted to feed from the bottom of the river or lakebed its diet mainly consists of insects, crustaceans and molluscs that are found here. Caddis larvae and worms are some of their favourite food.

With their hoover-like mouths they suck up food from in between stones and amongst the silt.

Gudgeon Reproduction

Gudgeon spawn between the months of May and July, around the same time as roach and when the water temperature has reached approximately 14°C.

The female generally prefers to lay her eggs over gravel, stones or the moss that covers small stones in shallow waters.

During this time the male develops hard, white tubercules on its head with which he rubs the female, trying to stimulate her into releasing her eggs.

The female will lay approximately 3,000 eggs but this is done over a period of two days and the fry hatch within two - three weeks.

Gudgeon reach sexual maturity around the age of two or three and therefore probably only spawn two or three times in their lives before they die.

The Gudgeon's Vital Statistics

  • Average weight: ½oz - 1oz (14 -28g)
  • Average length: 4 inches (10cm)
  • Specimen weight: anything over Xlb
  • Life-span: up to 8 years
  • Current UK record: 5oz (140g), (River Nadder, Salisbury, Wiltshire)

Waters with big gudgeon include:

  • River Tweed, Scottish Borders
  • Oxford Canal, Oxfordshire
  • Trent & Mersey Canal, Derbyshire
  • Staffordshire & Worcester Canal
  • Grand Union Canal, Rowington, Warwickshire
  • River Trent, Nottinghamshire
  • River Soar, Leicestershire
  • River Blackwater, Co. Cork, Eire
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