August 28, 2015 Last Updated 11:17 am

*Identify that fish!

Every get confused by different species of fish? Download some of these handy reference'll never be in trouble again!

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Often anglers will catch a species that will dumbfound them – It could be a new species or it could be a juvenile fish of a common species. Some fish look alike and it can be tricky to decide what species you are dealing with.

It is very important when you are dealing with species competitions that you are clear on you identities.

Over the years it is few fish that will trouble me in terms of ID. Where have I picked up the information? Over the years I have come across some decent books to aid ID. I have listed three free downloadable publications below and there are a few decent books that you can buy too.

Before going to the book I will try and narrow down the species by shape type – Is it round, flat, elongated, disc shaped?

What doe it look like? – Ray, Flat, Shark, Mackerel, cod – This narrows the genus/species

Check out the colour? – Silver, camo, spotted, stripes?
What about the Lateral line? Isit straight, crooked, curved?

Is there any distinctive feature? – think of the gold bar on a gilthead, the serrated gill cover of a corkwing wrasse, the nasal flaps of a huss, the tubercles on a turbot, The high lateral line on a red gurnard…


At that stage I may go to the book for confirmation: You will find they are mostly organised into groups – I rarely have to stray beyond the “White Book”.



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Irish Sport Fish – A Guide to their Identification
Inland Fisheries Ireland  – Fish ID Book

This book is the original of the species (Forgive the pun!). I first encountered this as the famous “White Book”. It was originally published in the 1970’s. It is as relevant now as it was back then and is one of the most simple guides to use.
Click on the “fishbook” link below.





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Key to the Marine and Freshwater Fishes of Britain and Ireland

The Environmental Agency – A guide to 370 Species

This is a seriously big volume and it is well put together. While many are not as clear as the “White Book” it is a reference that I return to time and time again.
Click on the link below:





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Mini – Species Guide

Sea Angling Ireland  – Ronald Surgenor & Steve Turner

This is a useful little guide to some of the more popular small species that we find around our waters. This guide was put together by a few anglers from the Sea Angling Ireland website. It was in answer to the many queries on the website from anglers for mini-species identification. While not all encompassing it treats what it covers quite well and the picture are great.

Click on the minispecies link below: (Of course you can also right click and save as)







If the above trio is not enough for you you can always invest in the following books:


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Collins Pocket Guide – Fish or Great Britain & Europe

Miller- Loates , Harper Collins


The Pocket Guide to Saltwater Fishes of Britain & Europe

Alwyne Wheeler , Parkgate Books.

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