After that jaunt down south two weeks ago looking for big crucian carp I have been left with what I think is a mild case of crucianobsessionaris. Seemingly I can't get the idea of those most gentlest and our only native carp out of my head. I had plum forgotten how much fun and how much I enjoy to catch these little pixies on warm summer days, and once I again cast after them I seem unable to leave it alone.
We are lucky here in the midlands as we actually have quite a lot of access to some decent waters that hold what to all intents and purposes are true crucians. I reckon I can think of at least ten waters within twenty miles of my house that contain them. Some are age old places where a few gnarled old giant,s which are the last of their line, and others have recently been stocked with thousands of bright little discs. One of my favourites though is a bit of a mix of the two. Snitterfield reservoir has had crucians present for many years but the controlling club, Leamington Angling association, have just recently augmented their numbers with a generous injection of new fish, a necessary action of which they should be commend for. You see for some reason the population had seemingly stalled. Whether it was time that got to them and they stopped breeding, or whether it was lack of suitable spawning sights or conditions I am not sure, but the fact was that no new recruitment was being seen in their ranks. So in went a batch of perfect true blood crucians and the effects of this may have been more far reaching than expected.
It was two years ago I think when I last targeted crucians at Snitters, and on that occasion I was fishing a few months after the restock. Now anyone who fishes this bleak yet inviting pool knows on average the water is very clear and on my the visit I now recall it was as clear as I have ever seen it. So much so that I could see the ledge over which I favour fishing. On this occasion after depositing a light bed of fluffy ground bait and a liberal scattering of pellets I amused my self catching rudd whilst I waited for the spot to stew accordingly. I had not even considered fishing the spot when out of the corner of my Polaroid covered eye I spotted movement close to my bait.
What I saw has to be one of my all time top ten fishing sights. A group of five of the larger original crucians slowly drifted along the ledge homing in on my bait and behind them was a massive shoal of tiny new crucians. Although only related by species, the little ones were learning the ropes from the old guard in what I can only describe as poetic passing of the torch.
That day I caught seven of the originals and three of the tiny new fish. The babies were little more than a few inches long and no more than two ounces back then. But by now I wondered how big they might have grown and what of those old fish. Had they all drifted away as old crucians seem to do or what? So Sunday I headed back half filled with the urge to catch crucians and half filled with curiosity to see how those new crucians have done in the last two years.
In the early hours I descend the road leading to the lake and hoped as I free-wheeled down the hill that one of the few pegs I love to fish for crucians here was free. Turns out they all were and so I set up stall in a particular favourite of mine where a weed bed fills the space between the bank and the ledge. For there is no more romantic vision of English summer than a float framed by lillies or weed as it fishes for crucians. I spent my summer holidays fishing like this as a child watching floats on baking days next to a myriad of weed choked ponds fishing for crucians, hence it is a love I think I will never die for me.
Time has passed since my youth and gone is chunky old rod that used to make my arm ache from casting all day, and ultra light piece of carbon nowrests on my knee. Though what I am using to catch them is irrelevant to me as I become instantly engrossed by the tiny shard of orange float just holding above the water. The first two bites are missed they are that subtle. Then on the third I connected with a fish which straight away makes all the right moves. I love that surging fight crucians make in close quarters. There constant vibration as the move quickly up and down in the water betrays them instantly. So light is my line that I dared not lift this one out and so I overcompensate by netting it, and the first fish of the day is one of the new crucians.
These new fish have at a conservative estimate tripled in size in two years and are now perfect little crucians of around six ounces. Their bodies have grown deep and the silveriness of youth is replaced by deeper gold and hints of black like the older fish. If these fish continue in this vein then it wont be long till they make a pound, and hopefully the few fish with the right genes in their blood and what they could achieve size-wise, might make Snitterfiled the best big crucian water in the Midlands.
As the morning wears on many more perfect little discs of gold get caught and something else becomes apparent. They seem rather happy! I can't say I have ever seen this behaviour anywhere else other than at marsh farm which is also stacked full of crucians. But the still youthful little ones repeatedly jump out of the water all around my swim. Its not like carp whose breaching generally seems for a reason, and its not like the laboured rolling of tench and bream, its more joyous. Like they are doing it for fun because they are happy. I am sure there is some scientific explanation but to me right now they look like kids bombing into a swimming pool.
Around mid morning I am sure I bump off a better fish in a less productive half hour. After topping up the bait and switching to try and catch roach of the top for a while until I gingerly recast on the freshened spot and straight away something is interested. A slight rise and slighter dip is enough for me to strike whilst crucian fishing and on this occasion I was dead on. A similar fight to all the the others ensues but this one put a much better bend in the rod as it leads me a merry dance around the weed. Though it keeps very low in the water and out of sight I know for sure its a crucian. Then I spot it circling through the clear water and I can see its a good fish. Then when it slides into my net I realise it's a decent size fish for this venue and maybe a little above the average size, or is it....
For as long as I have been fishing this lake the old crucians very rarely make more than a pound and a few ounces. This one though is knocking on the door of two pounds. Now either I have by pure chance caught one of the biggest residents on my first session back, or maybe that injection of smaller fish has added a little competition to the older fishes stagnant lives. Having those new hungry usurpers gallivanting all round the place may have actually served to gee up the old fish and caused an inadvertent growth spurt late in life.
Later when the bailiff comes round to check tickets the subject was broached, and low and behold it turns out they do seem to be getting bigger. Though his stories of three and even four pound fish are a little hard to digest and the recent picture of a three pound plus fish that emerged may hint at some guestimated weighing. But nonetheless, this long narrow strain of crucians might well be getting bigger and that thought alone is more than enough to make me start planning one last mid week foray back, to make further float fished enquires into the matter.