The beautiful Crucian Carp is a species that I absolutely love but despite this admiration I have only fished for them a couple of times before on Milton lake at Bury Hill fishery. Milton lake has produced some large fish but if I wanted to catch a monster there was only one lake. The lake in question has the best crucian carp fishing in the country with fish over 3lb a real possibility. In fact at the right time of year the lake is more then capable of producing 4lb+ fish and it currently holds the British record for the species. I will not name the lake but many of you will know the venue that I am referring to and there’s no real secret as to its stock having been highly published by many who have caught some of the waters real gems. With approximately twenty acres of water to fish it is by no means the typical estate lake usually associated with the crucian carp and location would be key to success.
It was my first year as member of the club and the rules state that I could not night fish until I had been a member for a whole year. Looking at reports in the press and speaking to some anglers that were fishing the lake it seemed as though the crucians were coming out during the night and very little was caught during the day which made things a little more tricky given my time constraints. I arranged a couple of day trips to get to grips with the place and then I planned to do three more before the end of the Autumn. My initial target was a 3lb+ Crucian but I would be more then happy if I could walk away with a new PB.
I employed the specimen approach with regards to tactics and terminal tackle using inline method feeders and short 5lb fluorocarbon hooklinks. An imitation caster was hair rigged to a size 16 super specialist hook and groundbait moulded match man style to the feeder. I made sure that the hooklink was folded over so that the hook was just poking out the bottom end of the feeder. This would allow the groundbait to breakdown amongst the hook bait and provide superior presentation. Crucian carp are usually considered extremely shy biters and many people fish for them using dotted down floats with just the tip showing in order to register the smallest of bites but by using bolt rig tactics hooking these finicky bars of gold can actually be quite easy. The lake also contains a number of large carp and loads of tench so I decided to use a more powerful set up consisting of 1.5lb tc rods with 6lb main line. It is important to ensure that the tackle is balanced and strong enough to cope with a large carp but light enough not to bump off a crucian.
I arrived at the lake and the conditions looked perfect with a warm westerly wind blowing steadily over the lake. After familiarising myself with the water and doing a couple of laps chatting to the regulars most of which were carp fisherman I decided to settle in a corner swim that was on the end of the warm wind. Being the weekend the lake was full and after talking to a one dedicated crucian carp fisherman it wasn’t looking to good with all his fish coming out after dark. Every year I said lets give the big crucians a go but never got round to it so to finally have my ticket and be on the water with a good chance to up my PB was a great buzz. I had spoken to a couple of fellow specimen anglers that had fished the water with great success and the one main piece of advice was to cast regularly and get a small bed of bait out consistently on the deck. When I say regularly I literally mean every fifteen minutes. Accuracy is a big factor and you need to put it on the money every cast so it was necessary to mark my line and clip up using a marker on the far bank.
The day started slowly and I managed a small rudd but I missed a couple of takes and so I decided to alter my hooklink and change it for a more supple product. Out came my ever trusty Drennan Supplex in 5lb breaking strain and I cast the feeder to the spot. This definitely helped the rig work more effectively and I began to catch some small rudd which although were not the target species I wasn’t missing bites.
It was early afternoon when I received a steady bite and as soon as I lifted the rod I could tell I had hooked a crucian carp just by the way in which it plodded about not doing much. Crucians are beautiful fish but unfortunately they are not graced with the power of some other species and the fight usually consists of them swimming round in circles making one semi powerful dive once they hot the surface. The fish came up to the surface dived back down and when it came back up I scooped it in the net first time. It looked enormous and I was certain I had exceeded the 3lb barrier and smashed my PB. I let the fish recover in the net whilst I got out all the weighing kit and to be honest I couldn’t really believe that I had caught my target fish within a few hours of arriving at the venue. I thought it would at least take a few sessions to get amongst them as they are not as prolific as they once were years ago. In fact theses fish are old and will not last for ever which is one of the reasons I jumped on the lake before it was to late. There really isn’t another venue like this in the country that produces massive crucians regularly. On the scales the fish went over 3lb finally settling on 3lb 7oz which was a massive fish and a new PB. I was absolutely elated and this was to be my fifth different PB of the year and was the only crucian of the session.
A few days later I found myself back at the lake and this time I decided to fish into darkness to increase my chances. I lost a huge carp at the beginning of the session and although I hadn’t caught anything it was looking good with similar conditions to that of when I caught my 3lb 7oz. As darkness fell my rod rattled off and I struck into what was definitely my target species. I played the fish carefully knowing full well I would be heading home straight after if I landed it or not. In the net she went first time and to my amazement weighed 3lb 7oz equalling my PB. I doubled checked the pictures and sure enough It was a different fish evident by a series of splits in the anal and dorsal fin. I decided then to finish my campaign for the crucians until next year when I have my night ticket but I had walked away with two huge fish after spending just two short days fishing. It just goes to show that a few hours in the right swim is better then a few days in the wrong one. Never choose your swim before arriving at the lake, always consider the weather and look for showing fish.
Pictures. 1) 3lb 7oz crucian on my first session, 2) The lake, 3) my second 3lb 7oz fish caught just after dark.