Once upon a time in Ireland, we had Rudd, an indigenous species that managed to survive the rigors of the last ice-age. Roach were artificially introduced last century and exploded through-out our lakes, loughs and river systems. Now it seems, these two species have merged and hybridised, to the point where it is extremely difficult to find Roach or Rudd in their purest form in this country. This is, I am sure, a serious problem for the future of our Rudd stocks. The other side of the coin, and from an angling aspect, we have a species that looks stunning, lives longer, fights harder and grows larger than its forbears! With the difficulty in exact identification of this species, my angling buddy Sid Kennedy simply labels them all as “Roachy-Ruddy things”.
This week I had the opportunity to fish a venue teeming with these hybrids, and armed with my forty year old float rod and accessories, it felt like I had travelled back in time. The quiet Irish lough, reed fringed and painted with lilies, this was definitely going to be a nostalgic trip down memory lane! Something straight out of Hugh Gough’s book, Coarse Fishing in Ireland.
It didn’t take long before the ravenous hoards of hybrids moved into the swim, mopping up the free grub on offer. 4oz fish, like peas from a pod, were queuing to be first to pull the float under. Great fun, but as a self-confessed specimen hunter, I didn’t want a “bag-up” session on this occasion, I had enough of that in my match-angling days. I was more interested in individual “lunkers”, fish over the two-pound barrier.
Three maggots or casters on a size 14 will keep this stamp of fish coming through-out the session. However, for a specimen hunter, the trick is to filter out the smaller fish and target the adults. This can be done to some extent by heavy feeding to feed off the juveniles, but there were so many in the swim, a tipper truck of ground-bait wouldn’t have been enough! The next obvious short-cut is to increase bait size. A move to a size 10 and three grains of corn eventually slowed down the “nuisance fish”, although there were some that managed to over-come even that!
Bites slowed dramatically, apart from the float dipping and lifting as small hybrids fought over the over-sized bait. Eventually the float-tip slid away, and a larger fish had found the hook-bait. The plan worked, and a stunning fish just shy of the two-pound barrier eventually slipped safely into the landing net. Although the occasional small hybrid successfully engulfed my mega-bait, generally the stamp of fish increased in my bid to find the elusive two-pounder.
Before light conditions worsened, I made the decision to lift the keep-net for a couple of photo shots, and was pleasantly surprised to see around fifty pounds of plump hybrids. I never managed to find the two-pound plus fish, but the short session was very rewarding with many over the pound barrier.
Usually after releasing a bag of fish, the feeding shoal dissipates, but my hybrids stayed put, and as the light faded, the session continued, producing the same again! I think I will give it a couple of years, and if God spares me, return to this wonderful venue where hopefully, all those pound plus hybrids will be two pound specimens.