Thursday, 11 June 2015

The Crucial Question

From time to time I like to fish for cyprinids. Tench are my usual quarry in the spring but with most of my tench now gone due to fish thieves I've turned my attention to the UK's only native carp, the crucian. Crucian carp are declining as a species in this country, mainly due to interbreeding with other species, most notably king carp which are an introduced species. The Angling Trust have started up a campaign to save the crucian which has raised the profile of the species and they are now very much in-vogue.

I was delighted to discover recently that a local water had been producing some good crucians. Not the massive 4lb+ fish that appear in certain southern waters but good fish for the north and I decided to set out to catch some of them. Fishing for crucian carp is just about as far removed from my usual lure fishing as it's possible to get in angling in the UK. They are notoriously shy biters and while I could have resorted to modern methods with the method feeder, I really wanted to catch on the float.

My first trip was something of a shock to the system because I was missing one vital piece of information about the venue. I went armed with light float tackle with maggots and casters to use as bait, and that's where I went wrong. I settled into my chosen swim, baited lightly with loose offerings and cast in only to see the float sail away immediately. A sideways swipe of the rod saw the first fish hooked, it was a rudd of around an ounce in weight. The next cast brought another rudd, a smaller one this time and then there was another, and another, and another. The place was crawling with piranha rudd which attacked any small bait the moment it hit the surface, I had to fight back!

I moved all the shot down the line close to the hook. The water is deep and the idea was to get the bait down deep quickly, away from the rudd swarm and hopefully close to where the crucians were feeding. I threw in some more maggots and then recast and waited for the float to cock. It duly did so and I smiled to myself, I had got past the rudd ok, now for a crucian. The float settled, bobbed and went under but the resulting strike didn't connect with a crucian, this time it was a micro perch. Every cast that went shallow produced a rudd, every cast that got through and went deep produced a tiny perch, oh this wasn't going to be easy was it?

I stepped up the amount of feed, maybe I could feed these small fish off. What followed then was a frenzy of activity with the water boiling with tiny fish and many many of them coming to the bank until, after a while, the float trembled and dipped slightly and the strike hit into something much more solid. It was a crucian carp at last and it fought well before I eased it over the net. At 1lb 10oz it was a good start and I slipped it back with some satisfaction. A short while later I had another of exactly the same weight, in fact I do suspect it was the same fish, but this was followed by a fish of 2lb 2oz, a new personal best for the species.

I then caught a succession of roach, nice fish that went up close to the pound mark and I continued to feed as heavily as I dared, considering the limited amount of bait I had with me. In time, two more crucians came to the bank, one of 2lb 1oz and another of exactly 2lbs. I was well pleased with my first attempt at these fish but resolved to return with alternative baits to try to avoid the small fish problem and so I did the return a few days later with corn, meat and pellets for bait. The end result was no fish at all, not even a bite in fact but the day was not a typical one it seems. There were many anglers fishing that day and almost every one reported a total blank. I decided that the crucians must have been spawning and so did not return for a while.

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