Thursday 5 May 2022

Crucians, Again:

 More on the Delightful Crucian Carp.

But first a moan.  I know it has been an age since I last took fingers to keyboard, but I KNOW I had not forgotten my password for this blog.  Google however begged to differ, and seems to have leapt in and made my logging in inordinately difficult.  Took me an age and several cycles of  "forgotten passwords" security info, codes to phone and emails back and forth before I managed to get back in to the blog. I had a serious and worrying concern that I should never get back in and that I might even become banned from the site completely.  However, here I am, and making even more than my usual large quota of typos, and desperately trying to eradicate them before releasing this rubbish on an unsuspecting world. Some errors will still get through...they always do.  Now it might well seem that I am using the above as an excuse, not to write the blog.  Not really,  laziness far outshone all that guff as the real reason.  But also, I like to have something different to say. I have seen some bloggers who seem just to report, fish by fish, every trip, clunk click.  Many of such (not all I would hasten to add) become rather tedious. They do however seem to get a far greater footfall than do I, so maybe 'tis I that is doing it all wrong. 

Well, after a little over 30 years of nagging, I finally have a fishing tackle room. Now, those of you that know me well, will know that I am not one to nag...I might moan a little at times, but nagging...never...not me.    Nope, the nagging was all courtesy of the wife Nina, who is something of an expert at the job.   I had weathered it for years, but the scud attack which finally battered me into submission, was when she counted how many rooms in which I had rods.  Now I still don't think six rooms with rods was in any way excessive (I am ignoring the garage in the calculations), but her mates ganged up on me. I didn't mention the rods in both cars. It is not as if I ignore her nagging...after a mere twenty years of such I relented and had the bathroom refurbished, and after just twenty seven of ear bashing, the kitchen was renewed.  So I am now squeaky clean with lots of brownie points: after all, I did both of her projects BEFORE my tackle room.  My room has of course been built in the cellar. With the aid of a lot, no A LOT, of scrap wood I built a Heath Robinson ( but solid) rod rack, and several areas of decking. Seeing all this space Nina decided that all my juggling and unicycling stuff could fit in it too, and on returning
Start of my "walk-in" Channel.

from fishing one day, that had all been moved into the cellar.   I am told that my tools will also be better below ground.  How long before my shirts and socks are buried is pure guesswork.

 The problem is that this room in the cellar has only five feet of headroom, and so in order to walk around safely I decided to dig channels in those areas in which I shall be walking. The areas are all non structural: just an inch of old tarmac covering the soil, so I am not undermining the house.  The hole for the channel is so far eighteen inches wide, 6 feet long, and gradually getting deeper.    Nina has observed the hole very suspiciously, she has some concerns over its dimensions and the nagging seems to have dropped considerably in both frequency and volume.   ;-)

So: crucians: I waste a lot of time trying to catch these utterly delightful creatures. The usual quoted mantra is that they are difficult to catch.  I have never agreed with that, but it is hard for the idea not to penetrate my thick skull. Maybe that is why I fish for them so often, and find them so endearing. I repeat: they are NOT difficult to catch if present in any numbers in a do need to set up your tackle suitable and apply bait and knowledge appropriately.

Fighting through the 2s. 

I fish one water where the crucians average about two pounds,  fish less than 1-8 are more or less none existent.  two factors are responsible in my opinion.  It is uniformly quite deep, averaging over 6 feet:  none too great for spawning areas, but also is infested with pike.  So, crucians, being fairly docile, are easy targets for predators, and with
A Feisty Little Fellow

spawning successes unlikely, the crucians seem to be at risk of being wiped out.   I do fear for the future of the fishery as a crucian venue, as I know the fish are all getting on in years, and may not remain to be caught for much longer.   So I spent a lot of time fighting my way past two pound fish, before finally getting a 3-0  and a 3-8.  Lovely sized fish. It had been many many years since I had any of that size, so they were particularly welcome.   And caught on the float, lift method, with bread for bait.  THE way to catch crucians.   I know that many anglers these days fish for them with in line feeders and bolt rigs, but it just seems morally and traditionally wrong to do so.  I suspect many anglers have little idea what a float is, let alone knowing how to use one effectively.   Such a shame.  They will never experience that wondrous feeling when a long antenna float slowly lifts 5 or 6 inches at the the behest of an unseen crucian or tench.

Just a few ounces.

I also fish a few small ponds for crucians. These are not big fish waters, most of their crucians are just a few ounces, although I hope they may grow. But they are fish from very clear water, and as such are unutterably delightful. The typical crucian fight with the rod tip vibrating is almost emphasized  with these small fish. I invariably know what I have hooked before seeing it.  Just look at the photo. Could any fish in the UK be more gorgeous?

These smaller fish seem to behave rather differently. When seeking larger fish, I almost always see fish splash on the surface in an unmistakeably crucian way.  They seem to rise up vertically from my bait, splash very near my float and the go straight back down.  A bite often follows very quickly.  The smaller fish don't seem to do that in the waters I fish. I have no idea why.   I have small crucians in my garden pond too,  They never seem to break surface either.  They do like to spend much of their time within the lily pads, hiding, maybe from the light, or perhaps from predators.  I hope they may breed next year. When feeding, despite being fairly laid back about the process, they always manage to stir up the silt from the pond bed.  I suspect this must also happen in angling waters. Tench do the same, and I suspect many stillwater fish are practically unable to SEE a bait.  Smell and taste must be far more important than I used to think.

Fairly Deep Body, High Back.
The other interesting fact about crucians is that they have a very variable body shape. In Peter Rolfe's great book about crucian carp  "Crock of Gold", he writes about this. Research has found that in waters exposed to predators, such as pike, crucians develop very high backs. Apparently this has even been backed up by laboratory experimentation. The fish shown here is one example, whereas the fish below has a much slimmer body shape.   I wondered whether this was a genetic variation, accumulated over many generations, in accordance with the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin. This is, I am told, not the case, rather the fish grow differently according to the presence or absence of pike.
Slimline Crucian,

I am not at all sure that I can agree with that, I remain unconvinced.  The last three fish shown here all came from one water, a water with no pike present, a water that has never had pike present, yet some crucians have nevertheless developed quite high backs, and others have not.  Lots of variation within just one water. So I remain without an explanation that I can readily accept.  Worse that that, I don't have my own theory either.   More research needed.


  1. See you knew you wanted to blog again - interesting stuff - I will renew my crucian efforts in 2022.
    I find it is always easier to spot typos in other people's stuff than in your own.
    Not sure there are rules of blogging and I quite like your topic driven approach rather than a report driven approach. In my case I'm not sure I have the knowledge to post by topic. Actually I am sure, I don't have! Also the initial and main point of my blog was (and largely still is) to to take the place of various lost paper and Word fishing logs. It is probably important to me that I remain my primary audience, as I think that avoids me getting up myself.

    1. Yes, I have always kept a fishing log, since I was 12. As I aged the content became less and less, blanks were dropped, and successes became little more than single line entries, but all were recorded, and still are. It is a shame that blogging was unavailable in my early years, before I took a 30 odd year break away from the bank, because then I was, relatively speaking, far, far more successful, and any successes had to be researched by yours truly, which made it great fun, and exploratory. Only dedicated and thinking anglers were consistently successful with big fish back then, 45 to 55 years ago. There was little of the ever-present glory seeking, and no social media, and I was certainly keeping all my catches very quiet. I stopped fishing very suddenly, in the evening one June 16th, and at the time I was 3/4 the way through writing a book. Still have it somewhere on 5 1/4 inch floppy disk, too dated now to resurrect it though. As with yourself, much of my blogging is for myself, and for my son in the future, should he wish to read it. He does not fish.

  2. Ooops - I used your comment ' They do however seem to get a far greater footfall than do I, so maybe 'tis I that is doing it all wrong' to bounce some thoughts about blogging in a recent post. I've just reread that post and it could be read as if I was having a pop, whereas I was actually trying to say 'what really matters is that you/I are/am saying what we want do. I'll say as much in next post and have slightly tweaked my exiting post.
    Keep casting the pearls of wisdom .... but remember you cannot make people read them!