Biggest is not always the best (crucian carp, entry 477)

Of all the carp species in our waters, my favourite is the smallest. The crucian. My love for them goes back many, many years to the time when I was a kid. They have never been widespread, but there was a little pond I frequented back then that held them.

In with the perch, roach and gudgeon I would occasionally catch what to me then was the most beautiful fish I had ever seen. And all these years later, I still pretty much hold that view, with maybe just the rudd in there as a serious challenger. And if you follow my Angling Journal regularly then you will know I still fish for them from time to time.

They’re still not common but like most areas I guess, there are one or two places where they can be found. One such venue is a lake I fish and with stories coming through regularly of crucian carp taking boilies, I decided it was time to target them. And with a boilie as well! Casting out 45-50 metres I presented single M1 12mm boilie baits and catapulted thirty or so out as free offerings.

The M1 boilie is a versatile bait

As darkness drew in and I waited for a take, I listened to bats on my detector. As well as the common pipistrelles, I picked up noctules. I hear them most times I am there, and sometimes I get to see them as well. And as always, when I find something other than pipistrelles, which are our most common bat species, I change frequency. In this case dropping down to around the 20 mark.

As well as the bats, a quick scan of the margins with my headtorch revealed in excess of 20 white-clawed crayfish. Pushed out by the invaders from America, the signal crayfish, these are one of our endangered species. To see one is amazing, but to find them in numbers like that is just brilliant. Last year I counted 36 in just one swim!

I’m off the mark with my first crucian

But I was there to fish, so how did that go? Well, at about midnight some sound from my bite alarm and movement from my hanger indicated to me that I was into something. A few moments later and I’ve got my first crucian carp of 2012 in the net. Just like all those years ago I found myself looking down and thinking what an amazing fish they really are.

It’s not a prolific water for the species, so in all honesty I would have been happy with just one fish. But at around 2.30am I found myself going through the whole procedure again. The second fish wasn’t as big, but just as beautiful. No more fish and I found myself dozing off after that. I started to break down about 6.30am, back home, showered and ready to join the land of the normal people and their regular sleeping patterns.

This is what the early hours is all about!

After my encounter with the species I definitely had my crucian carp head on and so decided to go on a focused mini-run. After all, with summer running out fast it will soon be too late. Not to mention the autumn and winter species competing for my affection. I decided to do an overnighter as per session one. I fished one rod about 3 lengths out with a tutti frutti pellet shaped boilie bottom bait.

The other rod was out at about 50 metres fished with a small corn shaped boilie pop-up. Both were cast out with a small PVA bag of proactive multi-mix pellets and fished over a bed of groundbait and sweetcorn. Both rigs comprised of 4lb Maxima mainline and 4lb Sufix Invisiline hook length with Drennan size 10 boilie hooks and the baits hair rigged. The photograph below shows the rig for the pop-up presentation.

Rig featuring top and tail rubbers

The lead is 1oz and held in place with a Drennan grippa stop. Safety is vital when developing rigs and in the most unlikely event of a break above the stop, the lead will slide off with minimum pressure. The swivel is encased in a Greys top and tail rubber. I’ve been using these of late and they’re brilliant. You can get them from Harris Sportsmail and from just £2.99 definitely worth a go.

And on the subject of recommendations, that’s a photograph of the corn shaped boilies below. They’re from SBS and I have been using them with great success for tench in the last couple of years. And yes, I do have links with both companies just mentioned. But as long as you’re open about your connections and you really are using the stuff you say, I’ve never had a problem with that. And to prove its not simply a hard-sell, I have no link whatsoever with Drennan, Sufix, Greys, Maxima or Batbox!

One of my favourite baits

So how did the session itself go? Well, it’s always nice to catch your target fish and I caught the first one about 11.00pm, which although we were still hanging on to the last rays of daylight a couple of months back, is now well and truly dark. As you can see from the photograph of it being returned, it carried a nasty gash on its flank. I don’t know about you but I’m definitely catching more and more fish with signs of some sort of attack on them.

Returning crucian number three

The fish was caught on the bottom bait while the second and final crucian fell to the pop-up. This one was at 2.30am and with rain coming down I was soaked by the time I had struck, played, netted, photographed and returned it. But I’m hardly complaining. The alternative of staying dry under the shelter means I wouldn’t have caught. And I know what I prefer! You’ll never catch me complaining about the weather. Commenting on it, yes, but it won’t affect my fishing other than the venue or species. Certainly not whether I go or not.

Definitely my favourite carp species!

The rain finally stopped though at about the same time I packed away and headed for home. My final shot of the session was to capture my bite indication set-up. As you can see I have blue light ATT’s and the great thing about them is that you can change the rollers, which means in effect if you are using say the 2-magnet wheel or the 6-magnet one they are pretty much different alarms. Needless to say it was the latter I was fishing with on this occasion ensuring maximum sensitivity.

The hanger is a Nash Featherlite. I’ve had a pair for years and with the weights removed are ideal for ultra-sensitive fishing. I use them for lots of species from zander to eels to roach, perch and of course, crucian carp. The rods I fished with were my trusty and faithful Fox Duo-Lite Specialist and the reels, which you can’t see on the photo of course, we’re a pair of Okuma Travertine I’ve had knocking around for ages at home which I decided to dust off and fish with.

Bite indication set-up ready to go

They are ideal for this sort of fishing as they have a bait runner facility. Unfortunately though one of the reels is a little battle scarred in the smoothness department after I had a big fish on it some time back. They’re not up to the job of demands like that! But for my crucian carp and roach fishing when I’m doing overnighters, they’re perfect. But for my final session, unable to get a replacement anywhere for my wounded Travertine, I fished a small Shimano on the rod closest to the bank.

Off to a flyer on session three

I was off to a flyer, as within the first hour I had two crucian carp in the net. Both fish fell to the aforementioned rod a couple of lengths out, which was a bottom fished tutti frutti pellet shaped boilie. The distance corn shaped boilie drew a blank, well until an early morning tench took a fancy to it that is. In fact I caught 3 tench on my previous outing.

The final crucian and it’s another decent one

The reality is that although you can focus, in most cases it is impossible to avoid other species. Not that it’s a problem though, it isn’t. Although it does bring a sense of achievement when you catch your target, as the phrase ‘nuisance fish’ isn’t in my vocabulary, I have no issues when my bait is picked up by something I wasn’t fishing for.

It was a glorious night and I was in my shorts right the way through. That’s what summer fishing should be like! But as dawn broke you’d have thought it was autumn. A dense mist covered the lake and watching the ongoing battle between it and the rising sun was fascinating. But of course, with a clear sky and a bright sun, eventually the latter won. And by the time most people arose from their slumbers, they were totally unaware of just how autumnal the start to the day had been.

The mist and the sun do battle

Finally, if you watch my September video you will see a tackle review for a Greys Prodigy box. You can view this from 10 minutes 15 seconds on the video. I mention that because if you are reading this before Monday September 3 then you can enter a competition to win one! Harris Sportsmail has very kindly donated a semi-loaded box for a weekend competition. If you go to my facebook page then you will find out the details, but all you need to do is share the link on your own wall, like both mine and the HSM pages and then post on the confirmation thread on the Harris page. (article published September 1 2012)

 

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