Thursday, February 07, 2013

Most Wanted : Ruffe.

With fishing being so slow at the moment and the weather and other commitments limiting our opportunities to get out I've been mulling over what I would like to catch later in the year again with a few of these species making my little list of "Most Wanted" targets. I also thought I should add a freshwater species or two as those on it so far are all saltwater species. Sticking with the theme of unusual or rarely targeted fish I thought the ruffe was an ideal choice even if it is not an indigenous species in U.K. waters. How they got here is open to debate. The most likely possibility is that they were introduced to Scottish waters by pike anglers who used them as live baits and they escaped or were thrown in at the end of the session. However, being a fish of Central European origin they were probably brought to Britain in the ballast tanks of boats. Growing to a maximum size of only about 20cm and being light green/yellow with light black spotting above the lateral line and more predominant dark black spots on the dorsal fins their colouration is in many respects similar to that of the zander. They are however a member of the perch family and have similar spiky fins and whilst they are difficult to confuse a key difference is that both a ruffe's dorsal fins are joined together whilst the perch has two separate dorsal fins.

Appears harmless enough. Looks can deceive though.

This small spiky fish is often an unwelcome guest due to the fact it is quite an aggressive species which breeds quickly and hence can quickly populate new waters where it is introduced, consuming the food supply of other fish, normally altering the ecosystem drastically and often reducing the populations of native species in the process. In Loch Lomond for example they also eat the eggs and fry of the powan, a member of the salmonoid family that resembles the grayling in shape but lacks the large dorsal fin and is silver in colour. The powan population there has declined drastically as a result, which is a grave concern as this species is only found in four Scottish waters.

The powan. One of the rarest freshwater species in the U.K.

So there are obviously plenty of ruffe in Loch Lomond. Their slightly down turned mouth being characteristic of a bottom feeding fish means a swim feeder full of maggots may be a good approach to catch one. Hopefully soon I can head west and have a first attempt. If they are indeed as prevalent as some reports suggest perhaps one trip will be enough!

Tight lines, Scott.

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