Wind, sails, knocked (Entry 180)

Angling certainly is odd. I want to get that out of the way. I gave the crucian fishing a rest this week to practice a style that I love but have done relatively little of in the past year. When there is clear water, and the fish are moving, there is no better way to tempt a bite or two than sight fishing. Bait preparation consists of a trip to the local supermarket and tackle can be kept to an absolute minimum. Stalking your quarry is one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, way to catch a fish. The spotting of the fish, the gentle persuasion needed to get them feeding, the cast and the take. Battles are usually quick and brutal or drawn out and nervous. Each thrilling in their own way.

I arrived at my chosen water late afternoon. The day had been largely overcast but even so carp, and all manner of weird and wonderful hybrids, could be seen cruising in the upper layers. This would be a good day. It had to be. Didn’t it? Well, the first hour was spent trying to tempt a crushing fish from the surface with bread. An hour which turned into two. Frustrating but fun. Even though there was not one point where a carp even looked like it was interested in my bread hookbait, 120 minutes vanished. So much for this being a good method for tempting a bite or two. Nothing in this pastime of ours is set in stone.


It was now clear, after that tremendous failure, I needed to feed a few marginal swims, ones that I hoped would attract the attentions of fish that were actually interested in feeding. Queue the second bait; the humble sweetcorn. A small palmful was duly fed into four different swims. Then it was time for a tea. The perfect time to ponder and muse over what had happened and hopefully what was to come. Time passed and I was soon back checking the first swim. Wind, sails, knocked. The bait was still there! Untouched, unmoved even, laying precisely where the kernels fluttered to a halt at. This did not bode well.

The business end

I checked the second swim. Same result. In the third I spotted a group of three carp, one a ghost carp, move into the vicinity of the baited area. They hung nervously, one fish peeled away and came full circle, back to the rear of the group. The other two remained still. There was zero confidence in these fish. Simple as that. I began to concede that this was turning into one of those days where nothing aligns. Weather and water conditions. Atmospheric and angling pressure. All skewed. Past experience counting for little.

The cherry on top

That group of fish then disappeared into the deep water beyond without even a nibble at the bait. I patrolled between the swims for an hour or more but nothing changed. The bait remained. All hope of catching dwindled. I resigned myself to defeat and another cup of tea. Taking the hook from the retainer ring, a double corn cocktail was nicked onto the hook. I might as well have the bait in the water whilst I drained the rest of the flask. With a thunderous swoosh, I propelled the hookbait as far as its own weight would take it, and watched as coils of line pinged from the spool as the bait sank. It settled slowly. I imagined the sweetcorn coming to a gentle rest on the bottom, out of sight, out of mind. Slowly, I drank my tea and took in the scenery. A kingfisher zoomed past me. Damsel flies darted near to the surface. Even the sun began to poke through casting a warming orange glow over the landscape. Not such a bad day after all.

To complete the picture, as the last of my brew was consumed, the line unmistakably stuttered to life. Coils turned from loops to smooth vectors that pointed to an unseen culprit that had just taken my bait. Out of sight, of course.

Until next time,



It all got a little silly (Entry 179)

I enjoyed last weeks crucian fishing so much that another morning in pursuit of them seemed foolish to pass up on. Although I was more than happy with what I caught last week, I knew I didn’t fish as hard, or as well, as I know I can. I was far too concerned with simply appreciating everything I had missed in my hiatus, whilst the cobwebs were blown away, a little slower than I would have liked. This morning however I was going to devote one hundred percent of my attention to catching.

The first of the day

I started on a marginal line, after all it was still early, and I was certain this was where the crucians would be. As I rigged up, I kept my eye on the water, a few bubbles out in the middle emerged from some unseen source, and down at the other end of the lake a big crucian rolled, unmistakable in its smooth, golden swirl. Alarm bells sounded. Fish milling around further out than I was intending to fish and at the complete opposite end of the lake. Still, I decided to stay where I was and after plumbing up, fed a generous amount of bait, before threading on my sweetcorn hookbait.

The crucians keep coming

To my surprise I didn’t have to wait long for a bite. It came quite out of the blue so any anxieties had not been built by rafts of bubbles or suchlike. The float was simply there one second and gone the next. Actually more like a fraction of one. My strike met with solidity and the fight proceeded to play itself out. Within minutes my first two pound crucian of the day was on the bank. What a brilliant opener. I’ll never tire of how impressive they look. The next 90 minutes were slow but steady and a further five crucians fell to the yellow peril presented under a finely dotted float. It was going rather well, so I fed another pot of bait, and rested the swim whilst I drank a cup of tea. A tea that now tasted extra sweet.

Another fish on the bank

When I started fishing again, not ten minutes later, the float instantly sank from sigh. The bait could hardly have been settled for more than a second. It turned out to be the first of many of crucians over the next two hours. The sport was frantic, it was really quite unbelievable, so much so I will save the numbers until the end. I did lose a few fish to hooks pulls, when the bites became very cautious, but simply feeding the swim and resting it for a time sorted that out. The interesting moment came when the sun broke through the clouds. Until then it had been largely dull, and in the light breeze, quite cool. Once blue took over the lions share of the sky, and the heat began to noticeably rise, the crucians simply vanished. There was nothing I could do to try and tempt one. No change of hookbait worked. Nor did following the fish out and into the deep water beyond. No, this was it, their way of saying you’ve had your fill. Enough is enough. Get lost.

At just under three pounds

I couldn’t really disagree; 19 crucians banked with a further six lost. More than I could ever hope for in four hours fishing. Of the 19 banked, one fish hit the magical three pound mark, 10 were well over 2lb and the rest were upwards of 1lb 8oz, a truly ridiculous amount of beautiful, rare fish.

The last fish of the day

Thanks for reading and until next time,


An extra scoop (Entry 178)

Once the water had been surveyed, my seat was set down, line quickly passed through rod rings and the depth plumbed; familiarity and oneness ensued.

My first trip out for such a long time, and I choose to pit my wits against them, those remarkably frustrating, but beautiful fish. I convinced myself that fishing for them was fun but four missed bites later, strikes perhaps a little rusty and met by little more than thin air, had doubts forming in my mind. Maybe I should have fished for bream. At least they have the decency to take the bait at a leisurely pace. I persevered. Another two bites came and went. Zilch. I felt completely unprepared. Like taking an exam without doing any revision. But all it takes is one fish. I clung on to that notion.

Welcomed back in style

Quite farcically, the very next cast was rewarded with a fish, one that went about seeking sanctuary, running hurriedly out into the lake. I smiled, more out of disbelief than of pleasure, for I still had to win the battle. On light lines the battle was turning into tense one, with terrifying lunges and plenty of tail slapping, once on the surface. My first fish for months had no intention of being that particular statistic. The bout ended in my favour. My favourite species, laying on the mat, caught on a favourite method, on a warm summer morning. Once admired, Mr Crucian was soon returned to its delightful home amongst reed and weed beds, and for some reason, I went about trying to outwit a second.

The best moment

I stared intently at the glowing orange tip feeling that much better now I had opened my account. The float was dotted down; a crafty anglers’ attempt to fool this equally cunning opponent. I say cunning, but that is probably inaccurate, as cunning implies some kind of deceit. There is none on their part, just delicate feeding, super quick actions and powerful fights. The only deceit comes from my presence. From the bed of bait and my hookbait hidden amongst it.

Another crucian on the mat

More missed bites. Words uttered in hushed tones. Words much better staying as hushed ones. Words that after a further hour were as far away from the tip of my tongue as could be. As with many things in life, as soon as you relax a little, as soon as you accept you are doing all you can, become less coiled spring and more Buddhist monk, things seem to fall into place.

Final crucian of the session

The crucians became less testing. It seemed they didn’t want to give me the run around anymore. They couldn’t resist my bait, now risk free additions to an already too good to be true buffet, and picked off positively. I managed a grand total of eleven quality crucians before dinner time. It was a brilliant session. So good to be back after much time away. Sat under pungent flowering trees, their lush green leaves set against a deep blue sky, whilst the finches sang in their branches and the heron stalked the margins. This barrage of crucians really was a bonus. Just their cautious bite and casual rolling in my swim was enough. Though of course, you are never going to pass upon an extra scoop of something, if one comes along.

Thanks for reading and until next time,