Which Fish Should I Try to Catch as a Beginner?


Carp in Net

Which Fish Should I Try to Catch as a Beginner?

There are many species of fish in our waters, some of which are a lot more elusive than others, some put up a greater fight than others, some prefer to feed on specific baits, some are most likely found in canals, and some loitering around the bulrushes in a pond, some prefer deeper water and some feed in the shallow water closer to the bank.

I like to think of coarse fishing as trap setting; you set the trap and try to lure the fish in to taking your bait; as opposed to hunting the fish, although there is a place for this, particularly when Carp or Pike fishing, but that’s a different discussion.

As a beginner I think the best approach is to target smaller fish such as Roach, Perch and Rudd; progressing to trying to catch larger specimens of these fish. I feel that this gives you great experience at understanding how to setup your lines for fishing at different depths, different fishing methods and using different baits. This approach is also more fun when you first start out as catching these smaller fish is easier than trying to catch their elusive big brothers.

Check the Location

So, you’ve got your Rod License and local membership, you’ve got the tackle you need to make a start and you’ve decided you’re going to your nearest pond to start your fishing experience.

The first thing I do before deciding the type of fish I am going to try and catch is check my local membership and book (if they provide one). Here you should find information about the types of fish that live in that water and typical sizes of those fish.

For example, this is what my local angling club says about my favourite lake:

“The fishery predominantly stocks: Bream, Roach, Crucians and Tench with smaller stocks of Chub, Rudd and Perch alongside some very elusive Carp, a rogue Pike or two and the occasional Terrapin making this venue extremely diverse.

Popular methods for this venue include pole, waggler and feeder. The lake has three islands to fish up which are accessible from more than ten pegs. The depth of this lake is usually quite shallow, around 3ft.” – http://www.wakefieldac.co.uk/waters.asp?id=35

As you can see, as a Beginner Angler I don’t want to spend all day at this lake trying to catch a Carp; I’d likely go home disheartened having not caught a fish. It would be much more fun to be getting regular bites and even catching 2 or 3 fish would be better than none. The more experienced Angler, who goes out specifically looking to catch Carp can expect days with no fish, but an experienced Angler isn’t going to be put off continuing with their hobby.

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For more information about different waters read – What type of water should I fish as a beginner?

Common Bream

Adult Common Bream in UK waters are a wonderful golden-brown colour. When juvenile, Bream are Silver.

Catching a Bream as a beginner can be quite rewarding as the average weight of a Bream is between 2lb – 4lb; They’re also fairly easy to land as they don’t put up too much of a fight; but make sure you have your landing net to hand.

If you’re going to fish for Bream you’ll need to feed your swim well with ground-bait as Bream generally feed from the bottom, meaning they pick food that has settled on the river/lake bed.

Bream are a shoal fish, so they generally swim in groups, if you do hook one then you need to be able to navigate the fish away from the area that you’ve been feeding to avoid scaring the rest of the shoal away, if you do this successfully, and get your line back in the water. it’s possible to land multiple catches in quick succession.

Once you start getting bites in the area that you’ve been feeding avoid throwing more ground-bait out or you’ll just scare the Bream away as they are quite a cautious fish.

You can catch Bream using float, pole or leger/feeder techniques, but the technique you choose largely depends on the size and depth of the lake. Using my favourite location as an example, as mentioned above, I would probably stick to using float here, ensuring that I’m fishing deep enough for my bait to be on the bottom wouldn’t be too difficult as the average depth of the lake is 3ft.


Perch are one of my favourite fish to fish for as a beginner, I don’t know why, there’s just something feisty and commando-like about them with their olive green bodies and bold black stripes. Their foremost dorsal fins are strong with very sharp spikes at the tip, their scales are toothed making them feel rough to the touch, even their gills are spiked at the end – handle with care! They’re like the soldier of the lake.

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Perch are a predator fish, larger ones feeding on other small fish or even their own species, despite having no teeth. This makes them quite easy to catch as they are so aggressive, especially the younger, smaller fish.

Although they’re on the smaller size, typically between 4oz and 1lb, you’ll certainly know if you hook one as they’re so fierce. Landing a larger Perch is always a good feeling to me, be aware though that their gills and fins often get caught in your landing net, so take care.

If you have the patience and want to go after a bigger Perch (over 2lb is considered a very very good fish) they tend to lay in wait, hidden and stalk their prey, so you’ll need to use a larger bait and look for areas that they could be hiding, such just off the edge of some underwater tree roots, but be careful not to get caught on the branches, or the roots, of the tree.


Nicknamed ‘Red-fins’ because, unsurprisingly, they have orange/red fins and silver bodies and a greenish blue back.

In my opinion smaller Roach are one of the easiest fish to catch, as they are so widespread; found in almost all freshwaters and are an average size of 2oz to 8oz, so slightly smaller than Perch.

Larger Roach are very elusive and highly sought after by the experienced Angler; a Roach of between 1.5lb and 2lb would be considered a very good catch.

You’ll catch Roach using pretty much any technique (float, leger/feeder and pole) using light tackle and small hooks and small bait such as maggots and casters.

A good method for catching Roach is to feed the swim sparingly with loose ground-bait with some hook bait mixed in. Using loose ground-bait causes it to create a cloud and the Roach will dart around picking up bits of the feed as it drops through the water. This is why it is also helpful to use light tackle as you want your hook to drop at the same rate as the feeding bait; Roach will often take it as it drops. If you have feeding Roach in your swim be prepared for a quick bite soon after you cast.

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If you’re going after a bigger Roach, bread squeezed around the hook is said to be effective.

Roach are type of fish can be reffered to as a type of Silverfish, for more information on Silverfish read – Fishing, What are Silverfish?


Rudd are often confused with Roach as they can look very similar, are a similar size and also have red fins. The main differences are that Rudd are a more green or golden colour and their mouth is up-turned to allow them to feed off the surface or as food drops through the water; a Roach’s mouth is down-turned.

If you want to target Rudd you can pretty much use the same techniques as you would for Roach. Generally, Roach will muscle out Rudd as they feed more aggressively. If Roach are biting but you want to target Rudd it might be worth fishing slightly shallower or towards any nearby reeds or lily-pads.


Tench are fish that fascinate me by the way they look, they don’t look odd or strange in any way, buy they have tiny scales which almost makes them look like they don’t have any scales at all, it gives them a very smooth look and feel.

The average size of a Tench is between 2lb – 4.5lb so on the large side of my small fish category, but a great fish to catch and implores you to take on a different technique to try and hook one.

You often find Tench in Stillwater such as lakes and ponds, feeding off the edge of reeds and lilies, an indicator that there’s a Tench feeding nearby is a stream of tiny bubbles coming to the surface as the Tench sifts through the silt foraging for food.

If you do hook a Tench be prepared for a fight! It’s a powerful fish that is likely to run for reeds, for this reason it would be good idea to use stronger tackle than if you were fishing for Roach or Perch. There’s no better feeling than landing a decent sized fish like a Tench on light tackle, but the fish will make you work for it.

For tips on how to setup a Helicopter Rig read – Helicopter Rig for Tench

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>