They usually turn up quite quickly in your swim, then start to delicately pick on the particles you have provided, sending up little bubbles as a momentary ‘thank you’. At this point the float, which is delicately shotted, remains still. Perhaps drifting slightly in the currents, made near the bottom, by their busy fins. Time to reel in. They are not interested in this hookbait at all and so a change to something more palatable is in order. Yes, that sweetcorn really wasn’t pulling them in but this pellet will. Once more the float settles, the bait flutters down, and expectation grows. Those ‘thank you’s’ begin to mount up but still no bite occurs. You try altering the depth and cast a little further out, or closer in, crucians are fond of the margins after all. But it seems nothing you do can tempt them. Time ticks on.
Just as your sanity is in real danger of vanishing, along with the morning, your float will dip, a tiny, quivering movement, more akin to vibration than motion. You almost strike but in the nick of time manage to subdue your instinct. Don’t bury it to far as you’ll need those reflexes when that float vanishes at lightning speed. Out of a blue the breeze springs up. It catches the line and moves the rig slightly. An intervention from Isaac. Far below the surface a crucian sees an easy meal escaping. Making its own instinctive play the crucian snatches at the bait. All caution forgotten. Ironically, its sweetcorn that’s taken, the bait you started with but was convinced was useless. Time becomes blurred and twisted as the float simply vanishes. The rod is whipped upward. A fish is hooked. It all happens so quickly that you can’t even call to mind the bite that just occurred. An indistinct memory, transparent and incomplete. Maybe it wasn’t even a bite at all? The solid weight at the other end of your line that would suggest otherwise. One hell of a tug of war has begun. And it’s at this point you have just joined me.
The fish fought so powerfully, that for a few seconds, I was convinced I had hooked a tench. Small but brutish tail movements propelled this acute fighter into deeper water, and when for a moment the tail had to stop to gather a second wind, the fish turned on its side and used it deep flank to create as much drag through the water as possible. A foot or so of line was gained before that tail started powering up again. A deadlock lasting thirty seconds or more. A foot in my direction and two against. With the light tackle I was using it was impossible to impart any more pressure on the fish. Not just for fear of snapping the line but of pulling the hook. They had been feeding very delicately and the hook hold would most certainly be a light one. If there is one thing you cannot do when fishing for crucians, it is rush them, both before the take as well as after.
Eventually the fish succumbed to the constant, sapping pressure of the rod and ‘flopped’ to the surface. It’s weird to describe a fish as flopping, especially when in the water, but its the nearest adjective I can think of. They suddenly just give up. Fed up of fighting. Knackered. With pectoral fins waving their strange kind of crucian greeting, this enigmatic block of gold can then be drawn over the landing net as easily as any skimmer bream, or wet sock. A strange, and almost disappointing end, to a very active process. A fish ready to unhook, admire and return. Time to start over again. I hope you’re ready, nerves.
Over the last six weeks I’ve had a great time fishing for these beautiful fish, and this session was no different, following a tip off from a friend, an early start was observed and I had caught a run of crucians since my arrival. Not thick and fast, more slow and steady, but we all know which one wins the race. I’d had seven so far. Seven two pound crucians topped by a fish one ounce short of three pound and the first of the day. The session was about to take a turn for the worse however as I lost four fish in a row. I then hooked two more fish that would simply refuse to stop. Both required a full re-tackle once the hook pulled. A birds nest created as the rig catapulted back, at close to the speed of sound, and one that Houdini himself couldn’t have untangled.
It was at this point I stopped and poured a cup of tea. I began to think about the crucian fishing I’d experienced. I didn’t want to simmer and stagnate over the fish that now frustrated and escaped me. I’d much rather look back in fondness on the cunning, but fallible enigmas, I had already had the pleasure of pitting my wits against. And would inevitably do so again. With so many other venues to visit and fish to fathom, I began to feel very content indeed, so much so that I poured another tea. I simply sat and soaked it all in. There was no need to tackle up for a third time. This is possibly the last I will see of the crucians for this season, and if so, then so be it. In my opinion it’s the best way I could leave them. I’ll see you next spring.
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