Tuesday 12 June 2012

Crucian Carp - Cash Cows

A few recent trips after crucians and earlier season trips after Perch have taught me one thing -- there's an awful lot of carp out there in commercial land. There's lots of local places where both the first mentioned worthy targets are available, but the problem is that they are available amongst a ton of carp flesh, who like every bait that both like as much, if not more than they do. Prawns are an excellent bait for margin fishing because perch and crucians love them, unfortunately carp home in on prawns like a randy dog sniffing upwind to a bitch on heat. You don't even need ground-bait to attract them, they will find even a single one, and fast.

Last weekend I left the prawns in the freezer, decided against the chance of a perch, and went all out bread fishing hoping that bread would not have quite the sniff of prawns and the cruising carp would not find it so easily. I did catch two crucians, but not great big ones, just little ones, but in waiting for them I'd a constant procession of carp to contend with, towing me about the place, stripping line off the clutch and bending my little 9 footers into alarming curves.  Evidently carp like bread as much as they like prawns, and they can smell the stuff a mile off.

I never saw any of them coming mind. I'd strike a bite in what was calm undisturbed water hoping it might be from a crucian, and be confronted with six or seven pounds of muscle tearing away with me attached to it against my wishes. Seriously, carp anglers must try crucian and perch fishing instead of carp fishing. Carp really do like what they are never caught on, and prawns and bread fished on light lines under a float, are reliable carp baits because of it.

margin fishing for crucian carp

I think I have banked more carp this year than in any other in my entire fishing career of forty years. I can't stop hooking the buggers. Everywhere I go they turn up unwanted, and unloved, except that is, those two caught in the balancing lake just a few weeks ago, who were very welcome indeed being that rarest of the rare, the feral carp.

We have to make distinctions with carp don't we? Like no other fish does, they divide into feral, and tame. Feral are the wild fish, hard to find and hard to catch, and they live in rivers and canals, and occasionally in ponds, occasionally seen, occasionally caught, but for the most part, reclusive and shy, their natural caution all intact. The rest are pests pets. The investments of a fishery owner who has bought them in, or reared them on, and stuffed the ponds full of them for one reason only, and that is to make anglers part with cash. The only thing about these carp that I find useful is that they provide good practice for controlling large tench on light lines, which will come in useful down at Marsh Farm soon enough, where the tench are the problem when after crucians, not carp, who've all been removed, but at least they're good-sized tench there, and worthwhile in their own right.

These poor cash cows though, are almost entirely devoid of natural caution, so used to being caught serially that they are almost unworried about the process and have probably become so conditioned to accept this relentless cycle of feed, get hooked, go back, and feed again, that they see this as the natural daily rhythm of life. Indeed there are always so many hungry cyprinid bellies in these places, they simply have no other choice in life.

A carp, in case you'd forgotten what one looked like...

I find it all a bit odd really. I simply can't understand the attraction of fishing for fish who are impossible not to catch. Where's the sport in that? Give me a canal any day, with its wild fish and wild fluctuations of fortune. It's just such a shame that canals don't contain crucians, or round my way, any decent perch, or I'd spend my days there instead. But at least both perch and crucians in commercials are not exactly obliging, even on the best of days. One or two seems all you can expect, and a big one comes along very occasionally.

I find my relationship with commercial fisheries something of a dilemma too. When after their quite wild large perch but hooking their inevitable carp, it's like fishing with grass as bait after timid deer in a field full of dumb freisians. In bird watching terms, catching a large specimen of almost any species apart from perch from a commercial, is akin to saying you've spotted a dartford warbler and ticking it off your list, but then admitting you saw it caged in some bloke's surburban semi, who'd a sign on his gatepost proclaiming 'Dartford Warbler Here! Entrance Fee, £7...

But I still go along and pay money to fish them, because its becoming almost impossible to find fisheries that do offer worthwhile still-water coarse fish that aren't commercial fisheries. Thank God the river season is about to start, then I can leave them well alone.

Mind you, guess what three of my targets are for rest of this season?

Well, having caught so many carp, and it must be fifty or more by accident so far this year, they are creeping under my skin, and I do want to catch a large river carp to beat my best from running water of fifteen pounds. I also would dearly love to bank a canal carp of any size, never having yet, and I want to break the twenty-pound barrier after having a specimen of nineteen-pounds, twelve-ounces sitting as my PB for almost thirty years, which was when I last went fishing for the species...

By design!


  1. I've caught so many carp on bread it's embarassing really - they do like it and and are so used to the usual boilies and pellets and glugs et al, bread and others, as you say are annoyingly reliable.

    There's only one answer to the cash cow (or 'mudpig') problem. Vote with your feet...

  2. Steve in Colorado13 June 2012 at 04:07

    I do hesitate to say this, Jeff... but that's the ugliest fish I have ever seen.
    It looks like a pig that fell into a nuclear reactor cooling pond and managed to swim out, only to find your breaded hook, having mutated along the way...

  3. Indeed, just need to find places without them, but with crucians within a few miles of home, JAA! That's not so easy round here, but I think I know a place where its possible...

    Steve, I'm glad you like it! Not a pretty fish, a mud pig, as JAA say's. They do kick back though, but wild ones kick back harder still. Pond salmon!