6 Popular Freshwater Fish Found in Our Rivers and Streams


Freshwater fish are an essential part of the ecology of the United Kingdom. Many species of freshwater fish are found in the UK, including salmon, trout, grayling, pike, roach, rudd, perch, bream, chub, carp, and tench. (There are several more). They live in rivers, lakes, ponds and streams. Some of these species are native to the UK, while others have been introduced. This article examines the different types of freshwater fish found in the UK and their importance to the ecology of the region.


One of the most popular freshwater fish in our rivers is salmon. Salmon is native to many of the rivers in the UK, including the Tweed, Tay, and Spey. Salmon spend most of their time in the ocean, and return to the freshwater rivers to spawn. They are an important part of the economy in Scotland, where they are caught for food and sport fishing. They are also an indicator of water quality in rivers.

Brown Trout

Another common freshwater fish in the UK is brown trout. Unlike salmon, brown trout spend their entire lives in freshwater rivers and streams. They are known for their beautiful colouring and are a popular sport for fly fishing enthusiasts. However, brown trout also play an essential role in the ecosystem as they are a food source for larger predatory fish.

freshwater fish
freshwater fish


Pike is another top predator in freshwater ecosystems. However, while trout and pike share the title of a top predator in freshwater ecosystems, they have distinct differences in their hunting techniques. Unlike pike, trout are known for their agility and speed, making them skilled at catching fast-moving prey.

Trout tend to inhabit colder waters, while pike can tolerate a broader range of temperatures. While pike may not be as agile as trout, they make up for it with their impressive size and strength. Their ambush hunting technique allows them to surprise their prey and quickly overpower them. Pike are known for their ability to consume a wide variety of prey, including other fish, frogs, and even small mammals.

This versatility in their diet makes them an important part of the food chain in freshwater ecosystems. Despite these differences, both species play their respective roles in maintaining the balance of the ecosystems. Pike can grow up to 30 pounds and are found in many lakes and rivers throughout the UK. They are ambush predators, often hiding in weeds or under overhangs waiting for prey.

Pike are also a popular target for sport fishing, and their populations are managed to ensure that they do not overeat smaller fish.


Roach is a common freshwater fish that is native to the UK. They are found in lakes and rivers and feed mainly on invertebrates and plants. Roach are a prey species for many freshwater predators, including pike and perch.


The common carp (Cyprinus carpio) is a large freshwater fish that is found in many parts of the world, including the UK. It is a popular game fish and is often farmed for food. The common carp is a large and robust fish, typically growing to lengths of 1-2 metres and weights of up to 50kg. It has a large head and a wide, deep body. It has a dark olive green back, with a silvery-gold underside and a prominent black lateral line. The common carp is native to Europe, Asia and North Africa but has been introduced to many other parts of the world.

freshwater fish – carp

In the UK, it is found in most still or slow-moving waters, including rivers, canals, lakes and ponds. The common carp is an omnivore, feeding on a variety of aquatic plants, insects, crustaceans, molluscs and even small fish. It is an opportunistic feeder and will take advantage of any food source it can find. The common carp is an important species in many UK fisheries and is a popular game fish. It is a strong fighter and can be caught using a variety of methods.


In conclusion, freshwater fish are an essential part of the ecology of the UK. They play important roles as prey species for predators and as indicators of water quality. In addition, the diverse range of freshwater fish found in the UK provides a valuable resource for food and recreation. Proper management of the populations of these species is essential to maintain their ecological roles and ensure their continued availability for future generations.

angling for freshwater fish

Freshwater Fishing Rules

Check out the freshwater rod fishing rules on UK GOV

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