Friday, 1 September 2017

Desperately seeking crucians.

With a title such as that you'd be forgiven for thinking I was in serious need of landing a lovely golden crucian carp. Well, I am and I am not, if that makes any sense. Really with where I live and the waters available to me, I could without shadow of a doubt go out and catch myself a crucian pretty easily, but the truth is that I only have eyes for one sort of crucian and it just happens that those are the hardest sort to catch round these parts as they are basically few and far between.

You see all crucians are not created equal... in my eyes anyway. In his well regarded crucian bible, 'A crock of gold: seeking the crucian carp', Peter Rolfe describes two distinct shapes of crucian carp; one, long and shallow which grows up in a relatively predator free environment and thus survival is not dependant on shape; the other, a classical round shaped crucian variant, that natural selection has determined due to its depth being to great too fit in the predatory perches mouth. The narrow variant is available commonly around the Midlands in quite a few pools including Snitterfield reservoir, which boasts an old population such as the one below and a whole new generation which was stocked few years ago to cement the reservoir as a top crucian venue for years to come.

The more rarer and archetypal variant though is much harder to find no matter where you come from. It is this disc-like crucian that I really wanted to catch this year, as a long time quest to actually catch just one of these special fish from Napton reservoir came to fruition and I landed four in one session last year. I honestly thought having finally done the impossible I might have satiated the urge, but the reality is that catching some has only made my need to catch them even worse. This picture alone has seen me return time and time again this year just for a chance to catch one more.

I have purposely kept away from blogging about the numerous failures to catch one of those golden pixies time and time again, as frankly I would have got very boring by now. Literally, I have spent half of my fishing time sitting on the banks of Napton mornings and evenings watching and waiting. I've spent so much time on there that I can tell some of the ducks apart merely by their demeanour. I've spent so much time sitting in silence that I've noticed that not only does Napton have a very shy population of water voles, but its stony margins are also home to bullheads which dart in and out of the rocks. As I've sat quietly waiting for my float to dip or rise so much as a millimeter I've seen plenty of Napton sunsets and now have developed a very keen appreciation for a good tench roll.

One thing I can say is the pest captures over the summer have really been great. Napton has so much more to offer than I ever thought in the past. The fish I've seen these last few months have honestly blown my mind. So much so in fact that I am already planning to have few sessions back on the venue once the weather cools a bit and the summer species go off the boil. Roach will be the target and why not when I've already caught fish to 1.10lb and pound fish have become very common. The Rudd to have blossomed in here and like their cousins, might continue to feed as the winter approaches. Saying that there does seem to be a few odd hybrids kicking around as well.

The tench sport was always regular this summer, but with the clear weedy conditions it has proved to be hard fishing in daylight hours in the margins at least. Evenings on the other hand have been madness, with catches of five fish one after another being the norm once the light drops and they find my carefully laid crucian traps. The tench have been so keen on my methods that sadly I've had to step up my tackle just to not get destroyed every time one comes along, hence I've fished probably a pound or so heavier gear than I would like to on such a venue. The rewards for that small compromise has been some lovely conditioned tench.

It wasn't until the other day that I strayed away from this crucian quest and with the summer ticking away I felt that sticking one in the net for this year's challenge was quickly passing me by. So with that in mind I did a session on Snitterfield reservoir to tick that box. Though that wasn't as simple as I expected it to be, as where the tench at Napton have proved very susceptible to my method the bream at Snitters were downright mugs for it. I spent a very hot and uncomfortable afternoon working my way through a good twenty of them and a fair few hybrids to conclude to stop feeding bait to encourage them. Half an hour bite-less proved enough quiet for at least one of the original crucians to drift in over the bream polished spot and put a pound and two ounces on my score sheet.

As I sat looking at my year planner at work a few days ago I realised that this little endeavor had consumed a large portion of the year and with a holiday fast approaching I had to draw a line under this crucian quest. So with that in mind I planned a final trip to Napton in search of gold. The only difference between this session and every other one before it was the addition of some very crucian carp looking bubbles emanating from the reed bed close to where I was fishing. They though came to nothing and my vigil ended once again with a streak of hard fighting tench before the sun set on my final attempt to catch those illusive Napton crucians.

Weirdly I don't feel the slightest disappointment in not actually catching one of Napton's bars of gold. I have actually really enjoyed spending all this time trying to pick a needle from a haystack. I can say with some certainty that I saw two crucians roll in a very specific place more than forty feet out from the bank and should I have been inclined I might have set up a feeder rig or something to try and hang one up, but I was not inclined, as doing so just feels little vulgar to me. Seeing those individual bubbles rising round the float and hitting that tiny bite before nervously playing a little circling giant is what I want and should it take me another decade to get that then I am prepared to sit and happily wait amongst Napton's reeds for it to come.


  1. Lovely write up Dan. Enjoyed that. Sadly(?) I now have Napton fever again (3rd time this year) so I'll be carrying on where you left off for a few sessions until the kids are at school.

  2. There's always a chance of something special up there george. A few more colder nights under our belts and my holiday out the way and I'll be back up there with maggot feeders again.