Stuart Gardiner

What is it about Gudgeon ?

As a traditional angler who enjoys catching all species of fish myself especially gudgeon in the past catching a net full on the grand union at Lady Capels ‘ gudgeon alley ‘ Im sure a few reading this will remember that venue and more recently at Birds Green Lakes had some real plump ones. There is something very different about our humble yet mighty gudgeon (Gobio gobio ). So what is it that brings a bigger smile when landing one of these to so many. For one it probably is not the fighting qualities of this small fish and they can be easy to catch in lakes, rivers and canals alike. The current record of 5oz caught back in 1990 caught in the river Nadder, Wiltshire still stands, there was a more recent monster one caught out of the river Wandle in south London but not verified at 6oz plus in 2016 according to the scale count etc, the picture of it shows below it most definitely is a whopper.

As a species the gudgeon has a pretty hard life being the go to choice for food for all the predators they share the water with and in Victorian times considered a fine dining delicacy. Fortunately these hardy fish do seem to ever thrive in good numbers throughout our waterways. The dictionary defines the gudgeon as ‘ a gullible person…One that will swallow anything ‘. One can apply the same to these voracious little fish as they will oblige the wide variety of hook baits offered. Research back in 1962 on the river Mole showed that they possess a strong homing instinct. After a number had been transferred as far as a third of a mile up or downstream, over 50% of those recaptured had returned to the home range within two of three weeks.

Gudgeon fishing was once regarded as a social grace and some gallants even went so far as to say that ladies made better gudgeon-fishers than men; their light touch, it was thought, fitted them for delicate strike – the slightest twist of the wrist – required to hook a gudgeon. Dr J.J. Manley author of the 1877 book ‘ Notes on Fish & Fishing ‘ was quick to point out the dangers of taking women to the river bank, he noted that ‘ Many a heart has been irretrievably lost when gudgeon fishing ‘ . There was occasion when the humble gudgeon caused the irretrievable loss of a bride. When in his youth the Rev, George Harvest of Thames Ditton a remarkable fisherman for his time was betrothed to the Bishop of London’s daughter, but on his wedding day while gudgeon fishing he overstayed the canonical hour; and the lady, justly offended, broke off the match…..

So what is the magic to catching the mighty but humble gudgeon, all I know is the joy of catching one is on a different level and brings a hearty smile seeing this colourful hardy little bruiser of a fish in the net, perhaps this is the magic and needs no further explaining. Having gudgeon in our waters to catch is a good thing and are a most welcome catch anytime.

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