Holding a large pike

National Coarse Fish & Pike Research Programme

In Ireland, coarse fish are defined as any freshwater fish other than pike, salmon, trout, eels or minnow.  Irish coarse fish include roach, bream, rudd, perch and tench. Bream, roach and rudd can all successfully interbreed which can make identification difficult.

Taking chemistry readings

Coarse fish typically spend their whole lives in fresh water and, unlike salmon and trout. For this reason, it is a mystery how many of these species originally arrived in Ireland if they are intolerant of long saltwater journeys across the sea. Many have been here for many hundreds of years, and genetic evidence suggests that pike may have resided in many Irish waters for much longer. We know, however, that species such as roach, dace and chub are much more recent arrivals and are designated as invasive species, along with carp.

Man holding up two perch

Coarse and Pike Fishing

Ireland’s coarse fish species support important recreational fisheries, and species such as carp are very highly prized by dedicated anglers in some places.  Like all species, coarse fish are threatened by changes to their environment, such as habitat degradation and climate change, etc. It is, therefore, important that we understand their biology and ecology.

A mixed approach

This project uses a range of established and novel sampling methods to examine the ecology, diet and behavior of many coarse fish species, including pike. These involve netting, electrofishing, radio telemetry and a non-destructive stomach sampling technique. While there is much we do not know about these species, valuable historical research collected over the past fifty years is helping us to uncover more.