Biggest is not always best (crucian carp article, entry 262)

It’s not meant to be a criticism of us specimen anglers, but when you look at the species that get targeted, invariably it is the bigger ones. There are plenty of fishermen that go for barbel, carp and pike but very rarely – if ever – do you hear of someone doing a campaign for dace, gudgeon or bullheads! Although the fish that I was after this week wasn’t in the mini-weight category of those three, it was nowhere near that of the previously mentioned trio either. I am talking about the crucian carp.

For a couple of years I have been promising myself that come summer I will set my stall out to catch some crucians. In last week’s article I wrote about late teenage memories of fishing the River Teme, well those of the crucian carp go back even further. When I was younger I fished a local pond that contained them. They weren’t big fish but what they lacked in size they made up for in looks. And I think that sums up crucian carp in a nutshell really. They must rank as one of our most beautiful fish, with perhaps only the rudd more stunning.

Make sure they are there if you are going to fish for them

One thing about crucian carp is that they are not widely spread. Think of roach, perch and so on and they are pretty much everywhere, but not crucians. So the first box that has to be ticked if you intend to catch them is to make sure they are resident in the first place. It sounds obvious but you can’t catch something if it isn’t there. And in this day and age with the proliferation of commercial fisheries and the introduction of other, more exotic species, then as much as possible make sure that you are after the real McCoy.

The place I was heading for this week is an old, well-established water, and more importantly, has not been stocked with fish. The head of roach, rudd, perch, carp and crucians have been there for as long as I can remember. So other than doing a DNA job on one of the fish, you can confidently say that these are real crucians. The stock level is quite low though so I knew it was going to be a challenge, but the prospect of fishing for them definitely got me excited.


A stunning fish caught this week

Not a morning person at all

I am most certainly not a morning person. Whilst it is very rare for me to go to bed before midnight – I very often work until 1.00 am – getting up early is another thing altogether. But the prospect of fishing for crucian carp inspired me to break the mental barrier I have when it comes to the thought of an early rise. In fact due to the short nights we see at the moment, a couple of hours after I normally go to bed and I was up with the alarm clock. I had my tackle ready, so other than get dressed, make a flask and load the car, there was minimal effort involved. Which is just as well at that time of the morning.

But I soon woke up properly and made my way to the pool in time for a first-light assault on the inhabitants. Knowing the venue already, there aren’t any particular hot-spots, other than what the regulars make for themselves, ie the usual car park swims. Although it must be said that the well-fished pegs should not be ignored, particularly if you are fishing into dark when most pleasure anglers have gone home. But on this occasion, due to the popular swims being close together, I headed for the opposite bank where they are further apart and the dense tree-lined perimeter ensure that no-one can come and set up on your shoulder!

I very rarely do any float fishing and the thought of staring at a small waggler instead of a quiver tip was quite an exciting prospect. When I started fishing as a young boy, my angling was exclusively with a float rod. It was only when I got into specimen angling as an adult that I did a complete switch and moved to legering. So casting out the float into the water and watching it cock and settle again brought back memories. Mind you, I will have to stop this reminiscing, otherwise I might be giving out the wrong signals. I am not going through a middle-aged crisis, right!


Tip of the week

It’s great to catch big fish, nothing wrong with that at all. But don’t despise the small species either.

If you’re losing your passion a little, visit a new venue with a float rod and fish for something else just for a change.

No, I’m not sponsored by Drennan

The float was a 3BB Drennan peacock and with most of the weight concentrated either side of the float, the small shot down the line ensured that the single sweetcorn piece didn’t plummet to the bed of the pool but descended with a certain grace. Enough grace for a hungry fish to intercept it was the theory! But as it happened all the fish caught were taken with a definite bottom-hugging bait. I wasn’t fishing far from the bank, with five to six feet of water a length out, that was ideal for crucian carp as they will come quite close to the edge.

I had one shot a few inches from the hook so that any bait movement would register immediately. Hook size was a 14 Drennan Super Specialist and hook length 1.6lb Team England line. I don’t particularly set out to fish with Drennan stuff, honestly! But as I often point out – if something isn’t broken then don’t fix it. I do keep my eyes and ears open regarding new tackle on the market but unless I can see tangible benefits in switching, I don’t. In fact my rod and reel were ones I have had for many years. And to break the Drennan spell, they are both Shimano!

Thrilled to catch crucian carp

The session itself went well, with lots of small roach being caught, but also my target species as well. Compared to other fish that I catch they may be small, but what a thrill it was to catch a crucian carp again. In fact, so much of a thrill that I did two more sessions during the week, both early morning starts. It did tell on me though and I had to catch up with some extra naps.

The first session saw me set up in dry conditions but very soon the forecasted rain arrived. I enjoy fishing in the rain and so didn’t mind at all, particularly as I had an umbrella. The angler opposite to me though wasn’t as prepared and he looked quite wet as he sat on his chair. It is very rare that I will leave home without a brolly packed into my quiver, regardless of what the weather people are saying.

The other two sessions were dry ones though. But just as the rain held off so did the crucian carp. Apart from a constant stream of small roach, the only other fish caught was a rudd. As I mentioned previously, these are perhaps the one species to rival the crucian in the attractive stakes. And even though this one was a little on the ragged side, nevertheless it’s beauty shone through.

Biggest is not always the best


Biggest is not always the best

I thoroughly enjoyed myself this week. I have no real idea as to the upper limit of the crucian carp in the pool or even how many there are there, other than knowing they don’t come out in great numbers. But just as catching big barbel, tench or bream is a challenge I relish then the prospect of trying to lure a big crucian equally excites me. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing 40lb carp, 15lb barbel or 30lb pike – nothing at all. But equally, the prospect of catching 2lb crucian carp should not be ridiculed either. In fact so taken was I with the species this week that I am definitely going to be returning to the pool before the summer’s out. In my ‘Tip for the week’ I have encouraged people to try for the smaller species. And whilst I did so not because my angling had gone stale, but rather that I genuinely wanted to, if you are a big-fish angler and the passion has faded, then have a session with a float rod on the local pool.

(Originally posted July 2008)

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