March 15th…..A sad day for any river angler, as the 15th signals the end of the river season and the start of the closed season on flowing water. I enjoy the break and I’m sure it does the rivers and foliage good. That’s not to say I entirely agree with it but that’s another story.
So with the 3 month break now firmly in place, the weather has turned into glorious sunshine with warm days and nights. With thermometers peaking at around 17 or 18c, it really is a sign that winter is over and that summer is just around the corner. Let’s hope that’s not too premature and winter doesn’t make an untimely comeback!
As the weather was so delightful and work had stopped me from getting back onto a river in the last couple of weeks, I wanted to get bankside somewhere. I decided to head to Bury Hill and my thinking was that with such mild conditions of late, both during the day and at night, the crucians might be active. I enjoy a few sessions at Milton Lake, although I prefer it when the bankside vegetation has emerged a bit more and the reeds and lily pads are mature. I would think another month of this weather and most lakes will look completely different. The trees, hedgerows and water plants will be in full bloom and growing like mad. It transforms that rather grey, drab look of winter into a spectacular mix of colours that makes spring and summer in England so special.
I was armed with several baits at my disposal. Maggots, casters, luncheon meat (small cubes) and hooker pellets would be my choice of hook baits and I had some of my trusty Lone Angler Ocean Pride groundbait to get the fish rooting about in the silt. I tend to add in a good mix of my hookbaits to the groundbait and keep a steady trickle going in all day, particularly in these warmer conditions. Tackle was pretty standard stuff; 14ft float rod, fixed spool reel loaded with 4lb line, a small insert waggler and a 16 hook to 3.6lb hooklink. I could use all of my baits on that one size of hook and the tackle was sturdy enough to deal with just about any size fish that came along, even the odd rogue carp, if one materialised. As always, it is essential to plumb the depth and make sure, as near as possible, that the bait is just resting on the bottom. Crucian’s are the trickiest of biters, at times frustrating and infuriating and can lead to serious bouts of tourettes!!
Today was no exception! Some bites were barely discernible. The merest twitch or dip. They were so cautious and so tentative you could easily pass it off as a fish brushing against the line. However a few strikes met with resistance, as a crucian put up a very spirited fight. Often though they signaled either a missed bite or a bumped off fish. I lost around 10 crucians and missed probably 30 bites. I started off with maggots and they produced an almost instant bite. The result was a beautiful golden crucian of around 1.25lbs. After that I couldn’t buy a bite on maggots. I switched to caster; nothing. I switched to small cubes of luncheon meat…nothing. Small green hooker pellets….nothing. Small 6mm white hooker pellets…..bite! It was these small white hookers that they seemed to want and I managed to tempt 11 more crucians before it went dead, around 3pm.
It’s strange how they just seem to want one bait and will ignore all else that’s presented to them. I decided to try the 6mm green ones after a long hiatus and this produced the odd fish, a few bumped off and a number of missed bites. I had hoped that as the day wore on and the light faded, the roach or even crucians, might switch on. Sadly they didn’t. I ended up with 15 crucians or brown goldfish. Yes all that glitters is not gold. A number of my crucians appeared to be hybrids or brown goldfish. There were no big fish, so it really didn’t matter what they were and it was fun to catch them. Had they have been 3lb or even 4lb+ then that would have been a different matter all together. There are many a big ‘crucian’ that turn out to be something very different.
Still, I had a pretty good day in glorious sunshine and even got a touch of sunburn! Not bad for March. I’m sure I’ll be back again soon and hopefully I’ll track down some of those elusive big roach that reside in Milton.