June 07, 2021 6 min read

Rock, paper, scissors

A change in the weather often means a change in target species for me.

So, when ITV’s meteorologist, Lucy Verasamy forecast some tropical temperatures and south westerly winds, it was not only time to dust off the BBQ, crack open a few cold ones and chin-chin a Gin and tonic or two, but it was also time to seriously consider what species would be the focus of my next fishing trip!

There was only one thing for it!  Rock, Paper, Scissors would decide whether I should stalk some crafty king carp in the upper layers, tease out a tinca or two, or try to outfox some cunning Crucians?

Having recently enjoyed couple of great sessions snaffling carp off the top from a local lake and having a tench trip planned with my mate, ‘the barbel slayer’ AKA John McGough in the next week or so, I thought I would mix things up a bit and go for some chunky golden crucians.

I absolutely love crucian carp. They are an incredible species and their pursuit offers the opportunity to skilfully present small baits on delicate rigs. Be it under a float or a tiny method feeder rig, you can be sure that if you don’t get things JUST right, you will fail. However, if you do get your presentation perfect the rewards can sometimes be stunning.

My preferred method for catching crucians has, and always will be, under a float. Usually with a single caster or piece of corn nicked onto a size 18 hook. Fished at dead depth, over a tight bed of ground bait positioned close to, or on top of a marginal shelf, or even better next to lily pads, always gives you a chance to entice even the most cunning Crucian into a bite or two.

Watching for subtle indications on a fine pole float is an incredibly exciting way to catch crucians. But, weather can quickly scupper this technique. A tow or windy conditions can make this presentation an absolute nightmare. This is when a method feeder comes into its own, and like a caped super hero can often save the day.

Now, the mere mention of a method feeder can often start a near uncontrollable chain reaction of eye rolling, ear splitting tutting and collective sighing, from some, centre pinned traditionalists. But in my humble opinion, good angling is about having the skillset to overcome the conditions to present a bait perfectly for your chosen quarry to find, and naturally enough for them to have confidence in taking it. besides which, I enjoy catching fish way too much to be rigid to just one technique.

The night before my trip, I carefully prepped two feeder rods and threaded my ever-trusty Acolyte with my delicate pole float rig. I set my alarm for ‘super early o’clock’ and like an excited school kid before their birthday, made sure I was tucked up in bed, at a ‘sensible time’ supping a warm cup of Horlicks.

Before I knew it, I was in my car, singing along to my playlist to ‘Sweet Caroline’ at a Maccy D’s drive through at 5am ordering some essential sustenance for the day ahead.

45 minutes and several vocal outbursts that would’ve had chairs spinning on ‘The Voice’ later, I arrived at my destination. The lake as always was stunning, made even more spectacular by an eerie mist rolling across the still water. A pair of adult Grebes feeding their noisy fledgling close to the island was the only sound to break the silence.

I chose a swim that offered some space, some features, and some lily pads. The forecast was for sunny spells and some warm showers so I wanted to keep my options open.

I pulted caster and hemp over a spot that I knew was at the bottom of a steep shelf, and added 4 large cannon ball sized balls for crushed hemp ground bait. I also accurately plumed a spot close to the lily pads and added two smaller balls of ground bait. This time the mix was slightly different and combined, hemp, flavoured caster, crushed hemp and a few flavoured grains of corn in each ball.

I loaded one of the feeder rods up and made 6 swift casts to a spot close to the island to get a bed of bait out there. (This spot was a little too far to throw to or catapult accurately to) everything was added with great care, keeping baited areas as tight as possible, no bigger than the tea towel for the pad spots and a hand towel for the open water spots.

Unfortunately, it became apparent very quickly that the conditions were against me. As even with the smallest chop developing on the water surface the tow made presenting the float rig almost impossible. I would have had to fished far heavier than I would have liked to keep the bait in the area that I wanted.

So, feeders it was,

It wasn’t long before there were some great fishy signs over pretty much all my spots!! Two very clear shows ‘plopping’ over the ‘shelf spot’, followed by my bobbins dancing with fish movement had me on the edge of my seat waiting for them to lift!

And lift they did! My first take had the spool spinning and clutch ticking, making me think that one of the resident tench had decided to gate crash the party!

However, the rattling rod tip soon gave the game away and I was soon guiding a beautiful 2lb + crucian into my waiting landing net. With one in the bag so early I was sure there would be a few more to come. Having weighed her in at 2lb 6, I was off to a great start.

Richie Crucian Carp Pair

Knowing the lake as I do, I was quick to get the rod back out there and sure enough a near identical take 10 minutes later had me into my second fish!!! Immediately it was clear that this one was a much bigger fish. She still had the distinctive tapping of the tip but with much heavier runs. Those who say Crucians give up quickly and don’t pull back are either fishing way to heavy or are in a rush to get home! I love the tussle of the scrap, the deep runs towards snags and of course the glorious moment when their golden flanks breach the surface!

As I began to lift my prize in the net, my second rod hooped round and the spool clicked. I gently lowered the net back into the water and made sure its inhabitant was safe and then my attention was firmly fixed onto my bobbin. My eyeballs were wide in expectant stare, I daren’t blink. The bobbin dropped about an inch and a half and then pulled tight to the blank. The clutch screamed into life and I was away again!! Another heavy fish tore through the lily pads. luckily my line pinged safely off each heavy new stem and leaf and thankfully the battle was played out in clear open water.

3 incredible Crucians in under 20 minutes, with two keeping each other company in the same landing net!

Luckily my mate Andy was local. He was fishing around 80yrds along the same bank and hearing my cry for help, skipped his rods in, lifted the kettle from the stove and came galloping to the rescue. Together we carefully weighed each fish and Andy took some absolutely awesome pics for my scrap book!! The Crucians were in superb condition and weighed in at 3lb 3 and 2lb 14. An incredible brace!

Richie with a massive crucian carp

The day continued to develop nicely, and while a crowded lake produced very few crucians for other anglers, I was having trouble keeping up with the action! Accurately feeding the swims little and often, with quality bait, saw a steady run of bites. I landed 8 mint condition crucians from 9 takes, a testament to both the rig presentation, brilliant bait and balanced tackle. All of the crucians were over the 2lb mark, with the smallest being 2lb 4 and the largest being the stunning 3lb 3 fish!

It’s not that often a day’s angling exceeds expectation, but when you catch such stunning fish at a brilliant venue and share the whole experience with a good mate, well, things don’t get much better than that!

Tight lines