Anecdotally, there used to be a lot more fish in the River Thame than there are now, however we have no actual data to prove it. What we do know is that the river has had to be restocked with fish at least 3 times since 1990 because of pollution, the latest incident being in 2013 when most of the fish between Aylesbury STW and Thame were killed by a release of sewage. We are working with Thames Water in an attempt to prevent such accidents in the future.
There are currently fish along the entire length of the river and they are often seen in the parts of the river where the water is clear, such as above Thame. Most commonly, these are roach and chub.
Fish that can be found in the River Thame
Chub (Leucisus cephalus)
The chub can be found in most stretches of the river. They vary in size from fingerlings up to over 7lbs in weight – but the larger fish are quite difficult to find. They are a good sport fish and will eat most things including worms, maggots, bread and cheese. Their favourite habitat is can vary depending on conditions. In Summer they can be found in fast moving well oxygenated water whereas in the Winter months they will take up residence below fallen trees and bushes that trail into the river
Roach (Rutilus rutilus)
The roach is a silver fish that has bright red fins and can be found in most stretches of the river. The roach is one of the most numerous fish in the river and can grow to over 2lbs if the water quality is good. The favourite habitat of the roach is in the faster flowing areas of the river where there is a good amount of in stream weed where they can hide from predators such as perch and pike as well as the over wintering cormorants.
Perch (Perca fluviatilus)
The perch is possibly the most striking fish in the river with its black stripes on a golden body with red fins. Perch are natural predators and will eat small fish such as minnows but will also take small roach and dace but they will also feed on natural food such as worms and maggots. Perch in the River Thame can grow to in excess of 4lbs if the water quality and conditions are good. Perch prefer the deeper stretches of the river and can be found where there is good cover from weed and tree roots.
Tench (Tinca tinca)
One of the more elusive fish in the river is the tench. Tench can grow to over 5lbs and are bottom feeders that grub around in the mud on the river bed. You can often locate tench as when they grub around in the mud they cause little streams of bubbles to rise up through the river water. Tench will eat most things including worms, maggots and bread.
Bream (Abramis Brama)
Another bottom feeding fish is the bream. Bream are shoal fish and if you can find one there are normally more close-by. The bream in the River Thame can grow to over 7lbs and they can normally be found in the deeper slow moving sections of the river. As with the tench the bream produce steams of bubbles when they are grubbing around for food on the bottom of the river. Bream will eat most things including worms, bread and maggots.
Pike (Esox Lucius)
King of the predators in the River Thame is the pike. The pike in the river can grow to more than 20 lbs in weight. It is little wonder when they eat most things that move under the surface of the river including roach, dace, small chub and bream. The pike is equipped with a strong jaw that is lined with very sharp teeth. Once a small fish is caught in the pikes’ mouth there is little hope of escaping. The pike will also feed on worm and maggots and can be found wherever there are other small fish.
Dace (Leuciscus Leuciscus)
One of the smaller fish on the River Thame is the dace. The dace is often mistaken for a small chub as they are quite similar. The dace normally grows to between 4ozs and 1lb in weight when the conditions and water quality are good but can quickly disappear if there is any degradation in the water quality. The dace is a shoal fish and where you find one you are likely to find more. It will often be found in close proximity to roach and has a similar diet – bread, maggot or small worms.
Gudgeon (Gobio gobio)
Probably one of the smallest fish in the River Thame is the gudgeon. These can be found in most stretches of the river but rarely grow above 4oz in weight. The gudgeon likes to eat maggots but will also tackle a large lob worm. Where you find roach and dace the gudgeon will not be far away