SCALE samples will NOT be adequate when it comes to the identification of fish, as Duncan Charman discovered after the capture of a 3 lb 13 oz roach.

The thought has long been held that DNA recovered from a scale would answer questions as to whether hybridisation has occurred.

But after Duncan Charman caught the same roach that had brought great debate as to whether it was a ‘pure’ or not, the whole process has been called into question.

Aldershot, Hampshire-based Duncan said: ‘It was my only bite of the session, so at midnight packed up and returned home, placing the scale in the fridge before pouring myself a large glass of red wine whilst contemplating what to do next.

‘Last season when l caught the fish l took close up photographs of the fish and sent them to well respected angler and fish scientist, Simon Scott who confirmed that everything was in order to indicate that the fish was indeed what l thought it was, a roach.

‘Mr Roach, Mark Everard also looked at these and was happy with what he saw. But I decided to send the scale to Simon Scott who said he would happily pass in on to The Environment Agency Fish Laboratory in Brampton.

‘Eagerly awaiting the results, l was amazed when l was told that they were unable to identify if a fish was a hybrid or not from a scale sample.

‘All they could tell me was the age of the fish.

‘They told me that to take an accurate DNA sample from a fish would mean taking a fin cutting, something that l would never do, and would not recommend to anyone else either.

‘You only need to take a look through the weeklies to see big roach being accepted as big roach, or questioned as hybrids. Judging a fish on colouration isn’t conclusive either,’ he added.

For the full story, check out this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine.