Monday, 31 August 2015

Crucian Carp — Zen Disco

Keith Jobling treated me to a session at Napton Reservoir on Saturday afternoon. A fairly large water for the locality, but not one of those great reservoirs supplying water to the thirsty masses, rather a supply for the nearby Grand Union canal. Split in two pieces by a causeway, it was the reedy swims along that rocky structure that Keith reckoned held our best chance for one or two of the venue's lovely crucian carp. One of whom he'd caught last month.

Keith starts out with a distance feeder approach for large bream. 

I really love crucians and the difficulties they present. But I adore the dinner plate variety. Napton contains only this discoid (disc-shaped) type and none of the more common lentoid (lens-shaped) type. This is because crucians that live in waters stuffed with pike adapt their bodies in response and assume this shape as a brilliant survival strategy.

Lentoid crucian carp of one pound weight
Pike find it much, much harder to attack them successfully. The first reason is that the taller the body of a fish, the fewer pike in a water are able to grasp it because of gape limitations. Pike cannot open their mouths any further than their jaw structure allows. 

A discoid fish of one pound will be able to elude pike with gapes smaller than its height but not those with larger gapes, but a 2lb lentoid fish will be just as vulnerable because it is only as tall as the smaller discoid fish. 

However, a 2lb discoid crucian is much taller than the equivalent lentoid one and able to defeat the attacks of all but the very largest predators in the water. And there's always going to be very few of them.

A discoid crucian carp of half a pound is about as tall as a one-pound
lentoid example but much shorter than a half-pound example would be 
The second reason is one of maneuverability. Lentoid crucians are built for efficient cruising. Discoid ones are built not just for gape avoidance but also for agility because their shorter 'wheelbase' lends much quicker and far tighter turning ability. Imagine the difference between the Land Rover Defender 120 and the 90, if you will.

That matters a great deal when avoiding pike who are missiles that cannot turn once launched but rely completely on narrow focus binocular vision and high speed surprise frontal attack. 

A 'disco' crucian may more easily turn out of the way, avoid the strike, and cannot then be chased. The pike misses by half an inch and then its high-set forward-facing eyes completely lose sight of the prey. 

In a zen trance watching my float...

Anyhow, we didn't catch any!

But it was most fascinating failing to because the water is quite thinly populated with small fish. So bites, when we got them, were quite easy to spot if they arose from crucians. I spent my time sitting cross legged on a council slab focussed intently upon the antennae of my float not moving for 59.99 minutes of the hour. I mean with totally absorbed and unblinking attention. As if I had the one chance to do what I wanted and that was to bank one of these large and handsome fish for myself by observing a movement that might occur, if it occurred at all, during the blink of an eye.

... barely move the whole day long

I did have two or three bites on corn (maybe a few were missed because I had to blink...) but for some reason failed to connect. All we had to show were a handful of perch caught on caster, worm and maggot, and so we left around six, went to Long Itchington, had a pint or two at the towpath pub, and then fished the canal till nightfall under a glorious sunset for the sum result of one skimmer bream to my rod.

But the near margins of Napton's causeway had got right under my skin. I could think of nothing else but Crucian carp caught between a rock and a hard place.


  1. Jeff, based on my experience i wouldnt consider napton a viable crucian water as they are so sparse there. Thats not to say they dont pop up from time to time but generally after many many small tench!

    1. Round here there's a dilemma, though. You have crucian waters like Lakesdie stuffed full of competitors so you can't easily fish for them by design and just strike at any indication in hope, and those like Napton with far fewer competitor and a small head of crucians too where it is possible to see those little indications for what they are.

      Even Marsh farm is very tough. Lots in there but when I've fished, though I've done well once, very few have been caught around a lake stuffed with anglers after them!

      Unfortunately. a reliable local crucian water has been ruined. Warwick Racecourse reservoir — sadly missed.

    2. Keith the Crucian master (sadly not I) had five in a short sitting within the last month, all of which were around the two pound mark. Around here, that is a very special catch.

      Agreed it's never going to be easy, but if you know how to catch a crucian you just have to sit there and trust in what you're doing. The minutes and hours will pass and your vigil must remain, unwavering, at nothing at all happening.

      But if one should pass.......... :)

  2. What a cracking water the racecourse was, some truly huge perch inhabited that place. Sorely missed


    1. Yes. An oasis of calm. Great pleasure fishing and as you say, some very large perch. I saw a corpse once under a bush and tried to convince the younger bailiff who's name I forget ( but I'll never forget him!) that it wasn't the carp he swore it was. A truly huge perch.

    2. Indeed it was....Morris was his step dad. My Perch and Silver Bream PB's came from there, I'd have loved to see what came out of there when it was drained and netted. Some surprises I bet, bit like the eel Martin had. A real shame, really was.

      I've caught a couple of 2lbers at Snitters but the old warriors are few and far between and I prefer flowing water so I don't spend enough time fishing for them that maybe I should as I love the Crucian.

  3. A crucian caught by design from napton, regardless of size will be a fantastic achievement, more so than 1 from marsh farm.
    Good luck in your quest!

  4. I'll certainly return and try now I've worked out a little of what was wrong with how I fished the place. Midweek for certain, hopefully no one else about, bait each available swims. And watch...

    1. What would Phil Smith do?

      He'd fish a method he know that works and have every confidence in, and if the fish didn't turn up that day well hey, it's no longer his fault he didn't catch them. It's their fault for not being there.

      Patience and unwavering confidence are the key to one of those rare and special fish matey....

    2. Such a large water must have an awful lot of crucians in it. Thousands, I'd say. However, 2000 fish spread over what I reckon is 7 acres won't amount to many in your swim unless you strike lucky. Just have to lay traps and wait for the arrival of a small shoal. Then have the right method waiting for them.

      I didn't like the deep water swims. I'd avoid them because of presentation problems. I'd look for four or five feet and refine my rig because of the gin clear water. I had bulk silver coloured BB shot hanging a foot off the deck. That has to be a red alert. That must change.

      All food for thought because it is worth thinking about deeply. I'm sure they will be easy to catch should the right approach be adopted — and they're actually there!

    3. As for Phil. I'm sure he'd do his homework and bankwork before ever wetting a line. I think you've told me enough information, Keith, to go with the right bait and feed next time around. Just the one and the right feed for it should do.

    4. A Snitters I have a sleeper rod out for Crucians and has worked quite well, just a small method feeder with a mix of small pellets and groundbait and a short hooklink with corn on the hook. They hook themselves, not cricket I suppose but worth a go ?

    5. Why not? The only downside might be hauling tench across a prepared margin swim and spooking what comes by if it already has. But, there's room enough to bank tench in the next peg along should it be vacant...