Early crucians (Entry 209)

The fish filled the bottom of my landing net. Bullion. A little paler than I remembered, no doubt from sitting in deep water for so long, over the cold Winter. There was numerous lice in residency, and two leeches, sure signs this fish has not long since woken from its slumber. The pull of the warmer marginal water, now sun soaked, had won over. As had the carefully presented hookbait amidst a sparse helping of free offerings. From my point of view the float barely moved. Indeed, it was not a vertical motion that had indicated a bite, but a horizontal one, as the float wandered from left to right in the tiniest way imaginable. Enough for a strike though, especially when there had been precious little movement for so long.

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I didn’t realise until in the midst of it but I had really missed this process. The careful plumbing up, the faith that the fish would turn up, that a few pellets could really pull a group of fish into the area. And the fight. That glorious thumping display, long pauses where they seem to hang and use their broadsided shape to make it as hard as possible to budge, especially on very light lines. I suppose you cant talk about a crucian fight without mentioning that moment where they just, well, give up. Funny little creatures thats for sure. Gloriously pretty, though.

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I’d taken a fair number of roach during the first few hours, some to a reasonable size, but the crucians had been absent. The night had been a cool one but now the day was warm. Really warm actually, wall to wall sunshine, with not a cloud in the sky. There really wasn’t. Apart from the strong wind that made bite detection problematic at times, the hours were passing far too quickly, especially as at the time a crucian had not graced the bank. Once one had though, I could really relax and take it all in. Usually when you can get to this state, a crucian zen if you will, more will undoubtedly follow. As proved to be the case before a rogue carp gatecrashed the party.

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Just how I had it on for so long using a 2lb hooklength is beyond me, but inevitably the double-figure bully found a way to shed the hook, leaving me amazed I lost the fish to hook pull rather than a break. I couldn’t find a way to add anymore crucians to my list, even the roach were playing much harder to get now, my two handfuls of gold was enough. With a hungry groaning starting in my belly, and with the air now feeling much more chilly, as seven o’clock drew round I decided to draw this session to a close. More than happy, of course, with the first real crucians of the year.

Thanks for reading,

NorthwestFisherman

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,

Northwestfisherman

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,

NorthwestFisherman

A golden session (Entry 144)

The fish jagged aggressively for the deeper water further out. It was most definitely a crucian; my first of the day. I’d been fishing since dawn, waiting patiently for those first signs of activity in the swim, a bubble perhaps or an amber flank rolling. Instead, it was a gentle tremor that, because I was now so tightly coiled in anticipation, saw me strike far too soon and miss the bite. If you could even call it a bite, that is. In keeping with the traits of my quarry, that tiny, minuscule movement most certainly fell under the ‘bite’ category. I’ve said it before; they are frustrating to angle for. An archetypal fish, perhaps. Everything required to be an angler can be tested on a trip after crucians. At least the way I like to fish for them, on float tackle.

The first crucian of a memorable session

Seconds passed as the determined fighter struggled to find sanctuary. My landing net swept him up and onto the bank. A time to enjoy his beautiful shape and form in the diffused early morning light. A dinner plate of golden scales. Once admired, the fish was carefully released in the next swim. I was fishing so very close in that it would have been unwise to release him in my own. He would surely go and tell his friends that the feast they were starting to enjoy had a sting in its tail. I resumed fishing, at the same time enjoying a large cup of tea and slice of malt loaf for breakfast, but before I had a chance to finish my snack, the float sank again. Quite confidently, for a change, and another fight commenced. A crucian once more, this one that much angrier than the first. Or maybe a little bigger? It certainly took longer to net and was nearly lost in the reeds several times, but somehow made it onto the bank; a fine two pounder.

The first of five two pound crucians

Once more I fed the swim, a chance to finish my now ‘optimal drinking temperature’ tea undisturbed, and a perfect opportunity to let any fish in the swim graze undisturbed. I watched several brightly coloured finches barter over some food source or other, fed the resident mallards’ young a few grains of sweetcorn, and almost forgot that waiting in the margin, picking delicately at the particles I had laid down, lurked big crucians. My next cast resulted in a missed bite. Then another. Each strike into nothingness more disappointing and frustrating than the last. So much for winning their confidence. You’re just spooking them, I told myself, and they’re spooky enough already. A deep breath and one last mouthful of tea to calm my nerves before the rig was sent back out. I sat, poised, and hoped.

Tense minutes passed by, maybe fifteen or more, and I grew increasingly convinced I’d spoilt the fishing. Too many missed bites. I teased the rig a little, moving the hookbait slowly, in an attempt to induce a bite. To my absolute delight it worked, as the float sank from sight. No fussy eating this time, just a confident sail away bite, one that even the Kid from ‘Pinball Wizard’ could have made contact with. It was a crucian yet again, steadier and less feisty than the previous two, plodding up and down just over the margin. I took my time, after all, this fish felt like the biggest crucian I had ever hooked. And although not the factor influencing my fishing for them, it would be a fantastic bonus. An eternity seemed to pass. Begrudgingly the fish came up to the surface. It’s head and broad shoulders rose out squarely from the divide between our world and theirs. That all important gulp of air stopped the fish from fighting, and to my delight, the crucian was beaten.

What a sight!

Through squinted eyes, I cautiously took a look at her in the landing net. Incredible depth, almost equal to her length. As I carefully hoisted the fish onto the mat it became apparent how big she was. I’m not just talking about her weight but her presence. Strange to think of a relatively small fish of having presence. A marked difference between the two pounder I caught before and I thought that fish looked impressive. At 3lb 1oz she was indeed a fish I have dreamt of catching, ever since I first sat on that farm pond, almost 25 years ago. Never once did I think I was in with a chance of achieving it as I set out at an ungodly hour that morning.

My first 3lb crucian and a new PB

I could have looked at that fish for a long time. It really was a beautiful and rare creature. But the time had come to let her go. For some other lucky angler to have an encounter with and hopefully appreciate as much as I. The session itself offered a few more fish, and I ended up with seven crucians, six fish over two pound, topped by my first ever over the three pound barrier. It was a day to remember and it had only just passed eleven o’clock. With my bait in short supply and the bites now few and far between, home seemed the best option. My expectations already far, far exceeded. What a fantastic experience. They don’t come along that often and I for one am glad they don’t. It makes them all the more precious when they do.

Returning a beautiful crucian

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman