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Posts Tagged ‘Fishing for crucian carp’


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.

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It has been a long time since I wet a line at Marsh Farm.  However now things have warmed up and spring seems to have sprung, Geoff and I felt it was time to pay it a visit again.  The set-up and MF is excellent.  They have a superb shop on site with very friendly, helpful staff, excellent toilets and secure parking.  Access to the lakes is via gravel paths and although car access is limited to disabled drivers, walking isn’t hampered by overgrown, pot-hole infested roads, like some fisheries can be.

The lakes are just coming into full bloom, with the trees, bushes, bankside vegetation, reeds and lily-pads bursting into life.  The wildlife is a buzz of activity with all manner of waterfowl and other bird life to be seen.  There has been many a time when I have witnessed dramatic events unfold, as crows, magpies or even herons spot small, defenseless ducklings or eggs and steal them away from under the nose of a distracted mother.  The harsh realities of nature are all too apparent when you spend a great deal of time in the countryside.  Luckily it is balanced and you see some wonderful sights from all manner of animals and insect life to help redress the balance.  Spring and summer are delightful times to be in the great outdoors, soaking up the sights and sounds of the Great British countryside.

The Great British Countryside

The Great British Countryside

Despite almost torrential rain throughout the previous night and pretty much all morning, the lake looked remarkably clear when we arrived.  In fact it looked pretty damn good.  As always breakfast at Broadwater Park Golf Club was excellent and set us up for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  Steve and the guys in Apollo Angling on site at Marsh Farm were dishing out plenty of abuse but some great advice too.  So armed with a tub of white maggots and a few odds and sods, we were soon trudging along the path fully laden like some sort of Himalayan yak!

I opted for a swim sandwiched between some reeds.  To my left a large bed of reeds sprawled out into the lake and I could see the stems vibrating and the tops dancing around, as fish moved through them.  To my right there was a much smaller reed bed that remained fairly tight to the bank.  Well there were certainly fish here, that much was obvious.  As I stood watching, a nice tench swam past in the clear water, totally oblivious to my presence.

I trickle fed maggots into the swim after a liberal dose of Ocean Pride flavouring.  I do like to flavour maggots, it just gives them an edge.  I tackled up with my 14ft float rod, 4lb mainline on the fixed spool and a small insert waggler.  The float needs to be sensitive for crucians as they can be the finickiest of bitters.  I like a tiny bit of the float tip visible and try and hit the slightest dip.  Some days it works and some days it don’t!  They can drive you mad.  Patience is the key and expect the unexpected.  I use a couple of gripper stops to hold the float in place (with a float adapter attached) and I use a small swivel to join the mainline and hooklink.  By doing this I can mold some extra heavy tungsten putty to the set-up, without the need of using any split shot.  The reasons for this are two fold; firstly you can set the float to exactly how you want it with ease and secondly there are no split shot that can pinch the line or get caught up in the reeds or lily pads.

Today I was using a size 16 hook to accommodate two white maggots.  After spending some time plumbing the swim, I had the bait just resting on the bottom.  I fed two swims; one to the left and one to the right.  That way if one spots dries up, hopefully the other will produce a few bites.  By now it was about 4pm.  The float was flicked out and a few maggots tricked in over the top on a regular basis.  The float was gone almost instantly and a nice dark green tench was quickly landed.  It was in beautiful condition and was soon swimming back to its mates.  A few minutes later and a lovely dark bronze flank of a crucian shone in the late afternoon sunshine.  This was a much darker hue of bronze than I seem to remember from the crucians here and it looked a minter.  Not a big one; probably 1lb 8oz-1lb 12oz but beautiful to look at.  Each cast met with almost instant bites.  Sadly I missed dozens, which is not uncommon and sadly I seemed to lose almost as many as I landed.  It was quite a tricky swim and even the crucians were fighting hard, with all the fish heading straight for the sprawling reeds to my left. Luckily the combination of the right rod and reel line subdued most of the fish and I only got broken on one occasion, when a fish shed the hook and left it in the reeds.

From 4pm until 8pm I managed to land 4 crucians and 6 tench, however from 8pm until 11.30, which historically has been the most productive time, only 1 more crucian and a couple more tench put in an appearance.  Normally as the light fades crucians start to roll and become very active.  Not so tonight, at least in my swim.  Still it was a lovely mild night of around 16c and I really enjoyed my session.  Geoff had started off very slowly, I think I’d had 5 or 6 before he tempted his first fish but he ended up with about 8 tench and a crucian, after his swim eventually woke up at dusk.

Most of my fish were in A1 condition and their colours were certainly the best I think I’ve seen here at Marsh Farm.  I didn’t manage to land anything of any great size but enjoyed the ones I did land.  I’m sure we’ll be back very soon for another go at those magnificent crucians.

 

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Ah those tranquil early summer evenings. The sound of the swallows, the pitter patter from the occasional rain shower, the lush vegetation and the buzzing of honey bees. All these things go to make up a wonderful time of the year. Well except for the sound of carbon fibre snapping and obscenities drifting on the wind, across the choppy waters. Still more of that to follow!

I was joined by Geoff this week and we headed off to a club water in search hopefully of some big tench and crucians. This would be our first session on this particular lake this season. The crowds have disappeared, mainly due to the crucians spawning recently. This obviously drops the weights of the big crucians and many anglers loose interest. That’s fine by me, more swims to access.

As we arrived the heavens opened. It was like a cyclone had blown in; torrential rain and howling winds. The temperature dropped 4 or 5 degrees too. Luckily after 10 or 15 minutes it passed and we headed to the lake. The banks looked lush and vibrant with new growth. The lily pads were in full bloom too and looked very fishy indeed.

Sadly the wind was howling across the lake from right to left and it looked like float fishing would be made very difficult. Still I settled into a swim with the pads to my left and plumbed the swim to find around 4ft of water. The depth was slightly deeper close in and then shallowed up around 2-3 rod lengths out.

The plan was to float fish the pads and put a method feeder out around 25 yards. Baits were to be luncheon meat and sweetcorn, both with a few squirts of the sausage sizzle overspray, on the float rod and the Lone Angler sausage sizzle 10mm squabs on the feeder rod. I mixed up some groundbait consisting of a 50:50 mix of the Lone Angler mix and a green off the shelf mix. This created a nice light, fluffy groundbait and looked ideal for crucians. I also mixed in some corn, luncheon meat and some finely chopped prawns. After tackling up the two rods I was ready to fish.

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

Sausage Sizzle Squabs

I used a light 1lb test curve Avon rod for feeder fishing, incorporating a 35g method feeder, 4 inch hooklength with a size 14 Pallatrax the Hook. This is a nice and simple set-up. I banded a 10mm sausage sizzle squab and buried it into the method feeder mix and out she went. Second cast and whoops…..the top section snapped clean off around half way up. “Oh bother” I says, “what a nuisance”. Well words to that effect anyway. So the feeder plans were cancelled and I would have to concentrate on the float.

Geoff's PB: 7lb 3oz

Geoff’s PB: 7lb 3oz

So out went the float and it had barely settled when it buried beneath what looked like North Sea waves. A hard fighting tench was on and after a very dogged fight I finally netted a pristine fish of exactly 6lbs. Well not a bad start after the disaster of a few minutes before. The wind by now was blowing around hurricane strength, making float fishing interesting to say the least. I changed the set-up on the float rod to take into account the conditions when the float rod snapped around 8 inches from the tip! Yet again a few choice words wafted on the wind to all parts of the lake. This was beginning to get a bit tiresome.

6lb Tench

6lb Tench

So rod number 3 was set up. How long would this last? Fortunately no mishaps with this one, thank God. However my swim was rather quiet. The odd fish rolled and a couple of very nice rudd were tempted, otherwise pretty dead. Eventually the wind eased off and conditions improved for a while. Sadly it was short lived and the wind gained force again and blew directly into our faces. Geoff had found a quiet area protected by the pads and managed to present a float in much calmer water. The depth here was around a further 12-16inches deeper than where I was positioned. It seemed to make a difference and he had a couple of decent tench on the float including a 7lb 3oz beauty. He also had a couple of 3 pounders on the feeder. Later on a shoal of very small tench moved in and he caught around 5 tench barely topping the 1lb mark. In the meantime my float buried at last and a nice crucian resulted. She weighed 2lb 14oz. Not a monster but a lovely looking fish in fine condition. Not long after this Geoff also tempted a crucian of almost identical proportions, maybe even the same fish!

2lb 14oz

2lb 14oz

Eventually the rain and wind drove us off the water. Enough was enough. I know when I’m beaten. Hopefully conditions will improve next week and we can tempt a few more of the bigger specimens found here.

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Well now the season has drawn to a close, it seems I have been struck by some sort of close season malady.  Still, eventually I’ll recover, well hopefully.

In a strange way I quite look forward to the close season, although it doesn’t last very long to be honest.  However I do enjoy the glorious 16th June, when we get to revisit all of that bubbling, flowing water and exuberant growth that has been given a reprieve whilst we have been away.

In the meantime, my buddies and I try our hands at cruising, no crucian carp fishing, with hopefully a few decent tench thrown in for good measure.  We head to the beautiful county of Surrey and fish Marsh Farm near Godalming.  Not only is the fishing excellent, the on-site shop, Apollo Tackle run by Steve, is about the best I have ever been in and its just a great association between the fishery and the shop.  The service is exemplary and the abuse free!  Can’t be bad.

There are numerous lakes here and if you are a member you have access to several private lakes too, although not all at this site.  The main complex consists of three lakes.  One is geared toward juniors and is known as Hill Pond, then there is a match lake called Richardsons and lastly the specimen lake known as Harris.  Although these are man made and therefore you might think of them as commercials, they are a sort of hybrid complex.  Not quite natural but by no means out and out commercial.

Summer at Marsh Farm

Summer at Marsh Farm

All of the fish contained within these waters are stocked from Godalming Angling’s own waters.  They haven’t been bought in from elsewhere and the fish are totally natural, English stock.  The main species being tench, roach, rudd and crucian carp.  No ordinary crucians here though, they grow to exceptional sizes.  Two pounders are commonplace and three’s are caught regularly.  It’s quite exceptional and they are all genuine crucians, with no cross breeding.  They are quite simply stunning fish.  A beautiful buttery gold, plump and rounded as crucians should be.

Although a little early in the year to start fishing for these magnificent creatures, we nevertheless commenced our close season campaign for a big crucian.  The ultimate goal is a 4 pounder but to be honest each fish, whether 1lb or 3lb, are so stunning, its a real pleasure to just catch them.

The nights on the weekend were pretty cold, with quite a sharp frost on Sunday and Monday morning, which would make the fishing pretty tough.  So it was to prove.  The first session on Tuesday evening was very difficult.  Between Geoff and I we only managed a few roach, with the lion’s share going to Geoff.  On Wednesday we were joined by Danny and Kevin.  The day was a little warmer and the evening stayed milder for longer too.  This was at least a little encouraging.

The highlight of the two days for me was the incredible sight of four planets in the evening sky.  The amazing sight of the large, bright planet Venus and below it Jupiter.  Also visible was the red planet Mars and also Saturn (I think).  Sadly from our vantage point we couldn’t see Mercury, which is also currently visible with the naked eye.  A stunning display and quite extraordinary.

The Planets

The Planets

The lakes are also a cacophony of bird noise at the moment.  With Spring on the horizon the wildfowl are in full mating ritual and are very territorial at the moment.  What with the Geese (Canada, Greylag and Egyptian), ducks of the Mallard and those rather alien sounding Tufted variety, Coots, Moorhens, Grebes and Herons it was quite a  racket.  Still, that’s Mother Nature for you.

As for the fishing, well we didn’t do quite so badly.  Dan I think was first in with a crucian of a couple of pounds and later followed that up with a bigger crucian plus a decent roach, I managed a couple of crucians at 2lb 9oz and 2lb 11oz plus a lovely tench of about 4lbs.  Sadly I lost 3 crucians (they often come off) including what looked like a possible 3 at the net.  Kevin had a couple of nice tench, with one over 5lbs and a near 2lb crucian and Geoff just the one crucian.

A typical MF Crucian

A typical MF Crucian

All in all not a bad start, considering the night time temperatures, which is keeping the water temperature down and the fish a little less active than they will be once it warms up a little.

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