Gudgeons have a short, heavy head, short fins, and short little things (called barbules or cirri) hanging from each corner of their mouths. They have brownish-olive skin with black spots. When 3 years old, a Gudgeon will only be 3 to 4 inches (7 1/2 to 10 cm.) They grow to be no more than 8 inches (20 cm) long, but more usually are about 6 inches (15 cm) in length.
They live throughout Europe, and are particularly common in branches of the Thames in the UK, and in the Venetian lagoons. They are not, however, found in Scotland, nor in central or southern Italy.
The live in schools. They eat worms, insects, eggs and small fish fry.
They lay eggs in May at stony places in shallow water. The eggs adhere to plants at the bottom, and hatch in 2 to 4 weeks.
Gudgeons have finely-textured flesh that is considered tasty, but many people think the fish is only worth the bother if it is of a decent size.
Some Australian fish are called Gudgeons, but they’re actually of another species.
Allow about 8 Gudgeon per person.
Cut off head and fins, clean out the insides, wash and wipe dry (at this point, you can keep them in a covered bowl in the fridge for up to 1 1/2 days.) Roll them in flour, fry them in a frying pan with melted butter and heated oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper while cooking and turning them several times.
Occasionally they are also “deep-fried” in France in an inch (2 1/2 cm) or so of olive oil.
Gudgeon are native to UK and Europe over to Russia.
Very small gudgeons are often used as bait for other fish, thus the “gudgeon” is also used in speech in English (and its counterpart in French, “goujon”), to mean a deception, or lie.