Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Crucian Carp - Crucian Crusade - King Prawn..!

A 3.30 am start is no big deal for any normal angler but, through lack of a nightcap (Judy has suddenly banned alcoholic beverages from the household, Monday through Thursday...) my occasional insomniac tendencies kicked in, and so I managed about ten minutes of cat-napping in an attempted three hour stint of sleep, eventually resigning myself to the waste of energy trying to sleep had become around two thirty and getting up earlier than planned to enjoy farting about with my bait and tackle over a steaming mug of tea.

Marsh Farm's Harris Lake was as pretty as a picture in the misty post-dawn glow. Keith had a plan to fish a certain peg and nabbed it as we walked around, whilst Phil and I took a gander at the lake first in order to choose a peg with visible potential. To my eyes Peg 34 looked wonderful for good reason - out front there were erupting bubbles, caused by tench undoubtedly, but for me this was proof positive that prevailing conditions had pushed plenty of fish including crucians into that particular place. I put my gear down to claim it and then had a close look at other options.

There weren't any so far as I was concerned, peg 34 it had to be.

It took me twenty minutes to tackle up my old DAM match rod, a tippy affair that handles fine lines and tackle well but has stacks of backbone for when an unexpected lump grabs hold as they often do when fishing for the smaller less pugilistic species like crucians amongst a population of bruisers such as tench or carp. End gear was a size twelve Drennan Super Specialist spade end hook tied direct to four pound line and supported by the excellent Drennan Glow Tip Antennae float recommended by Phil as the perfect choice for this kind of work.

My 3BB version of the float was loaded with a bulk of shot at 18 inches from the hook and a further 'tell-tale' shot set two inches from the hook with the float locked not by shot but with a float rubber at the base so that I could alter the depth at will, a necessary action at Harris as the marginal shelf area there is sloping and the area I would fish, from margin to one rod length out, runs from 12 inches or even less next to the reeds up to a full four feet or more in open water. The bulk was enough weight to have the entire antennae out of the water but with the tell-tale shot just heavy enough to pull the entire float slowly under when fishing under depth.

The float is cast and drawn back to the bank until it is at dead depth with the tell tale resting on the deck to a tight line above. What then happens is when a fish such as a tench or crucian, who must, because of their shovel-like upturned mouth shape, 'tail up' before picking up food items comes along and picks up the bait, it produces a pronounced lift of the float as the tell-tale is lifted off bottom.

The bite is struck on the way up and without delay.

Wait - and its just a tench - the float zips under. Wait - and it was a crucian - well, the float sinks back and you've just missed a vital opportunity and here at Marsh Farm that could have been a new personal best or worse, a new British record who passed you by ...

I had decided to bring a choice of just three hookbaits - small frozen prawns, sweetcorn and Sonubaits Supercrush Green soft hooker pellets but I elected to start out with whole prawn fished over free offerings of the same green 6mm pellets but in hard feed form and a couple of minced prawns every now and then.

The first cast was out to a patch of bubbles in open water and just a few minutes later I had a hard contested scrap with my first fish of the day, a tench of four and a half pounds. The signs of fishy life were everywhere out front of me but when a crucian primed two rod lengths out I couldn't resist a cast into the fizz of bubbles sent up as it bottomed on the lake bed. A minute later the float shot up in the air and the strike met with the unmistakable headbanging tussle of a crucian who was put on the bank in short order. A new personal best of two pounds 3 ounces, who is, for the purposes of proving that no reliable guide to fish size can be provided by trophy shots, worth two pictures!

By eight thirty AM I'd put a further brace of four pound tench on the bank, both caught from open water so I then decided to begin fishing close to the lily bed in the margins to my right thinking that the rising sun may have now warmed the water enough to make it irresistible.

Just a few minutes fishing here and with a clear lift of the float struck to perfection, I had PB number two on the bank, a warrior crucian, blind in one eye and weighing two pounds five ounces.

I don't think I had stopped baiting, casting, striking, missing and connecting, playing and landing fish for a second since dawn. It was now nine AM and time to break for tea and go get a day ticket from the shop. Keith and Phil had, to my surprise, fared rather differently. Phil had had an early crucian of two pounds but they'd had nothing between them since, which was in stark contrast to my frenetic morning's experience of non-stop action.

After breakfast I fished right tight to the marginal reed beds, a cast requiring interesting acrobatics to make and neck cricking angles to view. The fishing had slowed down a little but bites were still coming also plenty of anglers were also turning up now and the lake was filling in with a bristling mass of expensive top marque rods and hand crafted centrepin reels. I was employing a cheaper winch today, though my pin was in the bag, mostly because the Met Office had predicted wind in the afternoon and pins don't mix well with strong gusts of that particular element.

By ten thirty, reports were trickling in of a few other crucians. There had been a few 'small' fish of sub-two pounds weight caught just along from my peg (no tench surprisingly) but elsewhere around the lake it seemed that nothing was doing. When I had another tench and then one of those 'sub-two's' myself, at one pound and fifteen ounces yet another fish to smash my previous held best by over half a pound, I think that was the call that Keith needed to tell him to up sticks and move as close as possible to the action. He set up in peg 33, just one along from me.

Unfortunately, I think it was a move too late as by eleven the action was tailing right off and as the half hour approached was waning rapidly away to near nothing - it would appear that my cauldron had boiled, simmered, but was now cooling on the embers. However, just as it seemed that it was all over there was one last surprise in store.

A tench...

At just one ounce in excess of what was once an impossible target for me, it was PB number three of the day and my first ever 'six'.

Oh yes!

The rest of the afternoon was an idler's paradise, Keith tench even taking a nap on the manicured grass, but I stormed on with my fishing, fighting against a lethargy caused by lack of sleep that was matching wink-for-wink the rising torpitude of the lake's fish. I nodded off time and time again until I was saved from certain unconsciousness by a patrolling herd of rudd who not only kept me awake but entertained an audience of three, Keith, Phil and a friendly stranger, with the most outrageously exaggerated lift bites I have ever seen, causing the float to almost take off into the blue like a ballistic missile.

However, there weren't any more crucians (but a couple of tench for Keith) to come and no more personal bests broken even though I was convinced that prawn, king of baits on the day, could do it for me once again in the late evening after the sun had dropped below the trees. It didn't happen for anyone else either, for there were no more fish to catch.

I fell asleep in the van on the way home, sandwiched there between Phil and Keith who were, I could tell, still prattling on about hooks and lakes, bites and takes, but I was in the land of nod, dreaming of a warm bed and a hot woman to cuddle up to. We got to Coventry, dropped Keith off at his door and then blithely proceeded across Coventry only to run slap bang into the arse end of an accident tail-back on Pheonix Way...

"Oh hell!"

Keith was blame, obviously. Phil phoned and told him so.

Luckily the hour was late and the traffic light so the police managed the situation beautifully, turning us all around on the spot and clearing the mess in no time though we had a run in with a madwoman who refused to 'risk her life' by executing a three point turn on a major thoroughfare of The Queen's Highway.

I wonder if she slept in her car marooned by her own idiocy?

1 comment:

  1. Good words Jeff.

    Your star was in the ascendency yesterday, no doubt about that.