Physically, the rudd and the roach are very alike, although the rudd is slimmer in cross-section. It has a characteristic angled 'keel' between its vent and tail root, and the dorsal fin is set further back than the roach. The mouth is up-turned and herring-like, with the bottom jaw protruding upwards, used for surface feeding and catching falling food particles.
A rudd's fins range from orange to scarlett, depending on water clarity, and they will be brighter in clearer water. The scales are a reflective, burnished gold - in fact, so reflective that when photographing rudd in daylight, you often have to underexpose by one full stop because otherwise it is all too easily overexposed. An adults back will be a brassy bronze colour, whereas an adolescent rudd's back will have a green hue to it.
The golden rudd was bred specifically for the pond-fish trade (although it has found its way into angling waters and now interbreeds with common rudd) because it is easily seen from above due to its salmon pink back. It is even more intensely coloured than the common rudd, although they are a lot smaller than common rudd - anything from 1lb and above being a fine specimen.
Rudd are shoal fish, and they generally shoal with members of the same size and same year or spawning class. At dusk, when light values are low, they will feed particularly aggressively and with much less caution, although occasionally this will be reversed and they will feed when the sun is at its highest, and therefore the surface will be at its warmest. This applies particularly in the winter - being summer fish, fishing for rudd in winter can prove unfruitful, with them only really taking the bait an hour or so either side of midday, when the light penetrates deepest into the cold water.
Naturally, rudd will feed on aquatic insects, zooplankton, crustaceans and vegetable matter, showing particular partiality for algae growing on reed stems. Rudd also seem to be very susceptible to artificial flies, with a slow-sinking nymph in the upper water layers being what seems to be the best technique.
Rudd spawn in the months of April to June, in weedy shallows. Their eggs are translucent with a pinkish tinge, and tiny. When released, the eggs will latch onto anything available - soft weeds, rush and reed stems, tree roots or grass along the margins. Once there, they will take 10-12 days to hatch.
Due to rudd, roach and bream all spawning around the same time, hybrids between them are very possible. The rudd/roach hybrid causes the most confusion, with them generally looking just like a true rudd or roach. Some will have an extended bottom lip, like the rudd, but a paler body than the gold that rudds are adorned with. Others will be similar to the roach colouration and have a rudd-like angle or keel between the tail root and vent.
Rudd aren't abundant in any large river in England, although they are common throughout most river systems in southern Ireland. During the summer, they are easily spotted at dusk and dawn, as around those times they will often give away their position by porpoising. They can be caught at any depth from just under the surface, to just above the bottom at up to 20ft of water. The most likely place to find them would be amongst yellow water-lilies or bullrushes, just beyond the shallow marginal shelf.
Irrigation drains and canals
Rudd are most bountiful in waters that have substantial beds of bottom-rooted plants such as Canadian pond-weed, hornwort and mill foil and are clear for most of the season.
Estate lakes and meres
Specimen rudd are most likely to be found in meres and rich, weedy clear-water habitats, as this is where rudd fair best of all. Estate lakes are generally shallow one end, and increase in depth towards the dam wall at the other end. The shallows is where the rudd will feed in summer, whereas in the winter, they will be found in the deepest water, in a shoal.
Reservoirs and huge lakes
In large, natural lakes, rudd will be found in the biggest beds of reeds or lilies. In the evenings, they will furrow at the surface, catching flies and sedges.
The best way to locate rudd is attraction - when you have use of a boat, scatter a pint of floating casters, then retreat and watch through binoculars from afar. When they start to appear, get close enough to long float cast. Cast extra casters occasionally to keep them interested.
Look out for...
|Rudd love the sanctuary offered by lilies.|
|You will find rudd pimpling the surface of lakes on warm days.|
|Fish into the wind as rudd follow insects blown onto the surface.|
Rudd are also similar to roach in that they are common throughout Europe and southern Scandinavia. Southern Ireland is particularly good for rudd fishing, although Scotland it is quite rare.
Rudd are more widely distributed than roach, although they are no longer as widespread as they were, due to its intolerance to waters with chemical and farming pollution.
Best baits for catching a rudd...