Correspondence

Contributions may be sent to Peter Rolfe.


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December 29th 2018

More facinating news from Gary Cullum:

From: Gary Cullum
Sent: 30 December 2018 09:16
Subject: December 29th

Peter

Further to our correspondence I returned yesterday to the Hampshire lake almost a month to the day since catching 14 crucians in colder conditions than yesterday’s temps. My confidence was high.

What did I learn yesterday? Well, armed with new thermometer the water temp was 8°C throughout the afternoon and evening. The air temp peaked at 11/12°C when I arrived at noon and was 9°C when I left 12 hours later.

I had a couple of bites in daylight but having caught a beautifully coloured small rudd, I can’t rule out that these were rudd bites.

Early evening at 6.15pm I caught a three pound male tench and I have found that when tench arrive, crucians usually follow. There were periods of surface activity - mainly little plinks and during the evening two crucians poked their heads out of the water but I can’t swear that these acrobatics coincided with feeding on this occasion.

I missed perhaps six good bites throughout the evening but put this down to the fact I was using an 11 ft cane as opposed to 13,14,15 ft carbon that I have used for the past two months. My 'lift' into the fish response time was slow due to the slower action of the cane. Most bites were dips as my dropper shot yesterday was fished off bottom and my bait just on bottom.

At 9.15pm I had a beautiful gold bar of exactly two pounds, followed at 11.15pm by a modest tench and on my final 'one last cast' having text my wife earlier to say I would finish at midnight, I had another crucian of 1lb 12oz.

Gary's great crucian catch. Gary's great crucian catch. Gary's great crucian catch.

I can't recall the overhead conditions for the first tench but think it was partial cloud. Thereafter the brace of crucian, the smaller tench and all surface activity and missed bites came at times of overhead cloud cover. During the periods of clear starry sky - there were no bites and no noticeable fish movement.

I don't know enough about weather systems but did the periods of overhead cloud bring a slight, but noticeable to the fish, drop in air pressure, and would any change in atmospheric pressure, however slight, impact on life below the lake surface?

And were less fish on the prowl for supper due to there having been a fair amount of rain over the past few weeks - the lake levels were up at least a foot in old English.

Regardless, all I can say for sure is that it was December 29th and a gorgeous brace of crucians came ashore after dark courtesy of my cane and wonderful ancient Coxon Aerial.

I trust you had a peaceful Christmas and all best wishes for 2019.

Kind regards
Gary

On 30 Dec 2018, at 11:38, Peter Rolfe wrote:

Well done, Gary. You're laying to rest the old idea that crus don't feed after the end of September, are you not! Admittedly, water temperatures must be higher than usual. The real test will be after dark when the snow is deep and crisp and even. Now there would be a sensational pic!

Lovely fish!

Happy New Year and please keep the news coming.

Very best wishes
Peter

From: Gary
Sent: 30 December 2018 16:04
To: Peter Rolfe
Subject: Re: December 29th

I look forward to reading our correspondence online Peter and will keep sending any useful intelligence and images.

I have several aims for my first full season targeting this fascinating species.

The first is to catch a crucian every month for 12 months; the second is to catch a crucian in minus temps, and the third, as you suggest, is to get a photo of a crucian with snow on the ground.

That's quite a challenge as the south coast I'm told doesn't get much snow. And of course the venue is a 200 mile round journey for me. We had 6-8 inches of snow earlier this year deposited in Hertfordshire by the Beast from the East. But not sure Hampshire received much.

If I manage to achieve a snowy background image do you think it's ok to lay a crucian on snow for effect too or is that an absolute no no. I wouldn't want to upset anyone. But if crucians have come back from being inside large ice cubes in frozen lakes I can't see there would be an issue unless snow would 'burn' the fish.

We've certainly got another chapter should you decide at any time to revise and re-publish Crock of Gold.

Until next time,
All best wishes
Gary

Sent: 30 December 2018 16:15
To: 'Gary'
Subject: RE: December 29th

I shouldn't think a fish would come to harm lying on the snow, Gary, though I don't know for certain - lack of experience! You could always lay it on a wet piece of cloth folded so as not to show in the pic, to be on the safe side. I do hope you get the opportunity.

Good luck with all the targets!

Best wishes
Peter

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October 2018

Gary Cullum emailed me in October, asking when I thought it would be too late for crucian fishing. I suggested that the experiences of the Matthews brothers at the Victorian Estate Lakes might be worth reading in 'Crock of Gold - Seeking the Crucian Carp': they found that crucians do feed in quite cold conditions into the winter, but almost exclusively after dark and way on into the night.

From: Gary Cullum
Sent: 22 October 2018 23:46
To: peter.rolfe@crucians.org
Subject: The Crucian Website contact

Peter,

I've messaged Chris Turnbull Via Facebook off the Assoc. of Crucian Anglers image I posted earlier today re: a 3lb 14oz crucian from Westbrook Mere, home of Boxmoor & District AS at Hemel Hempstead.

But it prompts me to ask those who might know - is there a water temperature below which it is very unlikely crucians feed?

Or put it another way...as we approach late autumn/winter - when should I stop trying as my chances are very slim? Any advice greatly appreciated and thank you for all the work do do on behalf of crucian anglers everywhere.

Kind Regards
Gary Cullum

On 23 Oct 2018, at 10:00, Peter Rolfe wrote:

Have you read 'Crock of Gold' Gary? There's an account there of night fishing for crucians throughout the winter. Daytime feeding will be beginning to tail off now, though I do read of occasional fish caught in every month. Here they shut down in October, with the exception of the night feeding described.

A note of caution, though. Crucians of over 3lbs say are usually much higher backed. Any idea of the history of these fish? Do you have photos clearly showing lat line count and shape of dorsals. They look fine, but at that size (3lbs 14oz) I would have expected them to be a different shape.

Please take that comment in the spirit in which it is meant - genuine curiosity and a search for knowledge - not a denial of legitimacy!

Best wishes
Peter

From: Gary Cullum
Sent: 23 October 2018 10:18
To: Peter Rolfe
Subject: Re: The Crucian Website contact

Hi Peter,

Not yet. I've been hunting for a first edition but decided last night I should buy the edition mentioned on your website.

My crucian campaign has not been centred on Westbrook Mere but rather on a Hamsphire fishery where I am privileged to be able to fish. It's a 200 mile round trip from Hertfordshire...was trying to work out when to move on to the rivers.

I guess the answer is...when I blank!

As for the few and far between Westbrook Mere fish I'll look through the archive of which I am custodian to see if there is any mention of stockings.

The Mere was dug for gravel for the neighbouring railway then opened up for narrow boats off the Grand Union Canal which runs alongside it too. The Boxmoor club has fished the Mere since 1927 and owned the 4½ acre fishery since 1954.

I'll get myself a copy of 'Crock of Gold' to see if night fishing at the Hampshire water might be productive. Best start fitting some betalights to my crucian floats. Thanks for advice

All the best
Gary

On November 2nd, Gary wrote:

Peter,

Big thanks for suggesting to me that in cold weather crucians will (or might) feed after dark. After the first heavy frost last night and with air temp at no higher than 7°C during the day I managed a four pound tench, a big slab of a bream and two modest perch. Possibly not striking on a diminutive dip that could have been a crucian bite. But on dark I popped on my night float and fished for two hours. Two bites and deep backed crucians. At 1lb 14oz and 1lb 15oz, a lovely brace.

Thanks for the advice.
Much appreciated,
Gary

Gary's 1lb 14oz and 1lb 15oz brace. Gary's 1lb 14oz and 1lb 15oz brace.

On 8 Nov 2018, at 21:54, Gary Cullum wrote:

Peter

8 November and my thanks.

The crucians were feeding after dark. 2lb 3oz, 2lb 5oz and 1lb 15oz.

Kind regards
Gary

From: Gary Cullum
Sent: 08 November 2018 23:37
To: peterrolfe@talktalk.net
Subject: Re: Thanks again

I fed sparingly this evening in two adjacent swims but the wind picked up to 18/20 mph. It was rather difficult to spot any fish movement or bites. The wind killed one of The Swims which was the longer of the two casts.

Was quite surprised to catch. Heavy ripple and a severe wind chill factor. nothing before dark. Then the three crucians plus lost one in the decaying lily stalks and pulled out of something else (barbless hooks) that felt more like a tench. And missed at least two other lovely lift bites. So could have finished with 6-7 quality fish for 3.5 hours fishing.

Can't wait for my 'Crock of Gold' to arrive at the weekend.

Kind regards
Gary

November 8th, I replied:

Gary, good morning. I'm probably not the best person to advise on catching crucians...raising them, yes, but catching them...hmmm...However, the most successful crucian angler on our ponds always put a little mashed bread in each of his chosen swims and then fished them in turn. That's what I'd do in your situation - but be very careful not to over-feed at this time of year, I suggest.

I shall be fascinated to hear how you get on.

Did you get your First Edition of 'Crock of Gold...'? I hope so.

TL
Pete

Gary again:

Peter

In haste. Full reply later.

The first edition turned into a 2012 reprint sadly but I've managed to get it for £29 instead of full price. I did see a first edition sell on eBay last week with three signatures, for £100.

I'll let you know how I get on later. I use a 3:1 mix of cereal and bran. Just a little at this time of year…

…by way of an update - but first, 'Crock of Gold' - what a splendid book, crammed full of interesting and useful information. I have learned so much from it and I'm only half way through so far.

I returned to the Hampshire lake on Friday arriving at 9.30am after a light frost. The fishery manager had raked two swims last Monday (against decaying lilies) and put in a little feed to keep the crucians active.

He fed a little on Tuesday and raked too. He rested swims Wednesday and fed a little on the Thursday.

There were signs of fish late morning in both swims - both crucians and I think tench (rather larger bubble bursts) but by then a strong east south easterly wind turned the swims into trotting swims and it was difficult to hold bottom with my normal number six shot. In fact the only way I could keep my float in the swim was to effectively lay on with a BB shot on the deck.

I think I had three very tentative bites during the afternoon and couldn't connect - the fish were super quick to drop the BB weight ...but I was mainly gearing up for an evening session into dark. Wind chill factor took air temps down to 7-8°C and water felt colder than my previous visit when three fish were caught.

Did I have one bite after dark? or were my eyes playing tricks… but despite my confidence nothing between 4.30 dusk and 8pm when I packed up., Would I have been successful if I had stayed on? Had I overfed earlier in the day? The fishery manager joined me for the session - so we fished two swims. In choppy conditions he thinks he had 2-3 lift or dips too but no success.

It was the first blank of the season but it was 23rd November but having caught three wonderful crucians earlier in the month to 2lbs 5ozs and a brace in October I'll be back there again if we have a mild spell in December.

Do you have any thoughts on the length of mild spell before trying again… and should a little bait go in several times a week regardless of temperatures to try to keep the fish searching for food and hungry as suggested in 'Crock of Gold'? Or only bait on the day of fishing?

Fascinating stuff …

… I wasn't disappointed that it was my first blank. It's making me think what I need to do over the coming months (apart from heading to the River Test for Grayling). Given I am 100 miles from the fishery I don't know if it's worth trying to persuade the fishery manager to keep some bait going in …or if I just have the occasional attempt whenever there's a mild spell.

It would be nice to catch a fish in each of the months through to spring.

Kind regards

Gary

27th November 2018:

Gary - your keenness puts me to shame! I have no experience of fishing for crus so late in the year but Dave and Bryan did catch throughout the winter by fishing well into dark as I'm sure you've read in COG. Perhaps you'll be able to write the next chapter if you persist - after all, winter fishing for carp was an unknown not so many years ago! There's a lot we don't know and crucians are better equipped to feed in cold water than most species, despite everyone thinking of them as a summer species.

…I'm not sure that waiting for a mild spell is the answer, though it's probably a lot more pleasant on the bank. Baiting should only be very light, I should think, just enough to keep the enzymes active (is that sense?). But that's only theory on my part - you're the man at the sharp end!

Gary's reply was not unexpected:

"What makes you say this Peter? I.e. not waiting for a mild spell. Presumably the chances of success are slim in sub 10°C water temps … or are you saying that the crucian's metabolism is stable at all winter temps?"

Gary, hi. I'm really theorising about crucians' winter feeding. The only experience I have of this, apart from what David and Bryan did in the book, is crucian behaviour in my garden pond, where they fed on worms on the shelf throughout the winter, but only well on into the night - with a small jack that somehow arrived there! Crucians are uniquely equipped to survive the cold and low oxygen levels and in theory should not have to wait for milder conditions in order to feed. I wouldn't want to send you on a wild goose chase and I may be well wide of the mark - the only way to prove this is by fishing for them well into the dark hours and you have a long journey to get to them, so I'm not recommending it! We just don't know is the fairest answer. Over to you! It may be that regular very light feeding and fishing very late might bring results but it's pioneer stuff…

I haven't given up on putting our correspondence on the website - just lack of time. It will end up there eventually, perhaps when you've had your first winter 3-pounder!

TL
Pete

I'll work at that three pounder then, Peter. The swim I'm likely to fish Friday if the expected winds don't put me off produced a 3.02 in the summer. So it won't be far away.

Several times this year I've fished in summer until 10-11pm when sport stopped. And I've fished only until 8.30pm latest in October and November (mainly because of the 100 mile journey home and the need to be up for work).

I guess at some point I need to fish right through the night to see what might happen.

Regards Gary.

On December 1st, Gary wrote again with some brilliant news:

Peter

It became winter at midnight last night... so at lunchtime yesterday around 12.30pm I raked my chosen swim and put in just a very small amount of bran and cereal ground bait… two to three golf balls rather than the four or five tennis balls I put in during my summer campaign. A modest breeze coming across the lake made bite detection very difficult but I don't think I missed any, despite seeing a few small single bubbles at times. The fishery manager fished in the neighbouring swim and he was biteless too.

Around 2pm I went for a walk, raking three further swims - including the one I blanked in last week but where we had three nice crucians from the week before after dark (2lb 3oz, 2lb 5oz and 1lb 15oz).

Around 4pm we went back to look at the raked and very lightly baited swims. Should we move, or would our original swims come alive. I wasn't feeling confident. The first swim we looked at was dead, no sign of life, and now no sign at all of what had been a thick bed of lilies to fish to in the summer. Further on at the swim I fished last week there was just a hint of lily pad structure, with three decaying stems just marking the outline of where the pads had been. And there was some bubbling in the centre of the swim! Decision made...

We just managed to get our gear moved into the two swims before full darkness and thereafter I went very sparingly with the ground bait, favouring loose feeding just three or four soft pellets every 15-20 minutes. On dark around 5.30 pm I had a classic lift that turned into a lovely 8-10oz pristine condition tench.

Then the swim came alive for short periods - perhaps the fish visited in cycles throughout the evening. I fished well into winter - well until 2.20am on Saturday 1 December so my session straddled two seasons although I have to say weather in Hampshire had been mild for a few days and was very autumnal yesterday. So not really a winter challenge yet.

Between 6pm and 2.20am when rain stopped play and I packed up (and knowing it would be 4.45am before I reached my bed) I had the following crucians:

2lb 2oz (18.00 hours), 2lb 5oz (18.20), 1lb 10oz estimated (19.00), 1lb 10oz est. (19.07), 2lb 1oz (19.12), 2lb 2oz (19.54), 1lb 15oz (20.50), pulled out of a cru. (21.20), 1lb 14oz (22.20), 1lb 7oz (22.30), 1lb 14oz (23.00, 2lb 5oz (23.30), then pulled out of another one just into winter (sometime gone midnight)...2lb ( 00.46), 1lb 13oz (01.45) and 2lb 3oz (01.55). I also missed at least another half a dozen late night bites. Earlier in the evening I didn't miss a bite.

Three of Gary's great crucian catch. Three of Gary's great crucian catch. Three of Gary's great crucian catch.

There was still activity in the swim when I packed to head home, spurred on by the thought of a 100 mile journey, the fact that it was raining and because my eyes were so tired watching the night float that I am sure I was dreaming up movement).

A fabulous session and what did I do different from last week, fishing the same swim, when I blanked, if we rule out weather? Yesterday was milder than last week's cold spell, with no overnight frost…Well, I fished finer, with a mainline of three pounds instead of five pounds, and hook link 2.08 to a 16 wide gape instead of the 5lb line and 3.08 hook link I used last week. Would this have made a difference after dark, I wonder. Much less loose fed went in - this really did make a difference, I think.

The bites immediately on dark were slow, 'proper bites'…either sail away or big classic lifts. It seems the crucians threw caution to the wind. No fish was returned to the swim but moved some swims away. I am fast believing that a returned fish spooks others in the swim.

But at midnight-ish the bites changed… back to delicate lifts and dips. I don't know why this was.

Another point of note. After three or four crucians, all lovely lift bites, I got in a right old tangle and had to set up from scratch. I was obviously a little shallower but having cast a bait which was quickly met with a bite and a fish, I left it as it was, which was with the bait about two inches above bottom. As a result there was a very small movement towards me and the bank. I had all remaining fish with the bait in this position. As I was packing up I plummeted to check how far off bottom I was.

It was a fabulous session and with every visit I learn a little more. I'll send you a few pix. Needless to say, I am rather tired today!

With kind regards
Gary

Now I'm eagerly awaiting news of Gary's latest expeditions. Is this a similar break-through to that of winter carp fishing, many years ago now?

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September 7th 2018

Some correspondence with Mark about his extraordinary a 5lb 6oz hybrid.

From: Mark
Sent: 7th September 2018
Subject: The crucian Website contact

Hello,

I was Carp fishing yesterday & caught an interesting Specimen Crucian @ 5lb 6oz. I emailed the Angling Times & after consulting an 'expert' the editor emailed me back & said the the fish is a Crucian / Common Carp Hybrid. I'm not so sure with that answer. The fish was 'paler' than the usual distinctive Crucian colour's (that could be envoiroment, lake condition? etc), and they say the head is more 'rounded' (I've seen other 'recognised' Crucian's with this paricular shaped head).

Regards Mark.

Mark, why not send me a photo and I should be able to tell you what it is.

It is unlikely to be a crucian, I must say, because it's nearly 1lb bigger than any crucian caught in this country before - but strange things do happen so please let me see the picture.

VBest wishes
Peter

Hello Peter,

I'll sort out the best photo's & email them to you. Feel free to use it for your website if you so wish.

Mark's very fine crucian hybrid Mark's very fine crucian hybrid

The pictures were taken on my Iphone & the Baliff's Samsung phone so there is a variation in shots! I was aware of the the current UK record of 4lb 8oz (open to claims @ 4lb 10oz + with ref. to DNA testing).

Regards Mark

Mark, hello again.

First, the photographs are first class, which makes it so much easier to identify the fish, with head and dorsal details, which most people don't give. And what a beauty it is. Sadly, though, and disappointingly for you, I'm sure, is that in my opinion it is not a crucian.

To go through my reasons:
(1) the size: although it's not impossible that a crucian of over 5lbs could be caught, it is very unlikely because crucian top size in UK has increased only marginally over decades.
(2) the overall shape: the likelihood is that a crucian of that weight would be high-backed, rather than of pond crucian shape. The weight of this fish is through the body, rather than up and down it - if you see what I mean! (3) the colour: I take your point that colour varies from water to water (and from camera to camera) but this grey/brown-wash is typical of a hybrid. There is no convincing sign of the crucian golden sheen towards the bottom of the gills and lower head. The fish also lacks the dark edges to the lower fins so typical of a crucian. (4) the dorsal shape: though convex, has the higher front end more often seen in carp or goldfish, with probably a prickly inner edge (you may have felt this when you raised the fin) - a crucian dorsal is softer in touch and outline. (5) the scale pattern - really clearly marked, like chain armour - is different from that of a crucian. In high magnification, they show very little of the characteristic "dotted" pattern of crucian scales. (6) the lateral line scale count is short at 32. Though that is within the range of a crucian (33 is the usual count, but one more or less is sometimes seen) and though the tail end two scales are unslotted as one often sees in a cru, they are insignificant in size, particularly the last one.

There is no sign of barbs at the mouth so it is unlikely to be a crucian × common carp. It is almost certainly goldfish × crucian. Whatever it is, Mark, I would put money on its not being a crucian. Sorry.

Best wishes
Peter

PS I'd like to use the correspondence and one of the pics on my website, to help others. Could I do so, please?

Subject: Re: Crucian × Brown Goldfish @ 5lb 6oz
Hello Peter,

Many thanks for your photo appraisal, highly detailed & expert opinion (your website is an incredible CV on the Crucian species, which prompted me to 'pose the question'). I agree with your opinion & would favour a Crucian × Brown Goldfish ? It was a surprising catch (the bite indication was 'Bream like' tempted with a multi rig / double boilie). Very soft 'armour' & silky to the touch. The front elevation photo is attached. Would be interesting to know the percentage of Crucian as opposed to the percentage of Brown Goldfish (beyond my own intelligence & I guess the Scientists could give that figure?). Well it was a cracking fish & I doubt I'll catch another one quite like it.

Feel free to use any photo's.

Kind regards Mark.

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 08 September 2018 10:39
To: Mark
Subject: RE: Crucian × Brown Goldfish @ 5lb 6oz

Seldom do I receive "informed" photos like yours, Mark. Thank you.

Re "proportions", I'm not a scientist and there's a lot I don't understand about crucian genetics, but I guess we can only go by external features. I believe that hybrids take on characteristics from both parents so the resulting appearance is a mix, but perhaps it's a bit more complicated than that. For example, it's not just, say, a goldfish dorsal fin atop a crucian back: the fin is often (note that word!) a blend of the two, perhaps convex but not in a crucian way, like your specimen's. Perhaps the proportions of the various identifying features are different when a male crucian fertilises a female goldfish's egg from when the opposite occurs, as I've read people theorise. Then there is the nightmare of possible back-crossing, where a crucian x goldfish hybrid manages against all the odds to breed successfully with a species goldfish or crucian - because not all hybrids are sterile apparently, as used to be thought.

It's no wonder we sometimes make mistakes in identification. I think that most of the time I can tell a crucian from "others", but identifying the "others" is much more tricky. I do wonder at what stage a hybrid becomes so common as to become a species - perhaps when it breeds true within its own ranks. This is why we must keep the gibel carp out of UK, because its breeding habits are such that the poor besieged crucian would be even rarer than it is and anglers would be even more confused!

Thanks for your interest, input and excellent photographs. The website will be all the better for them. Cole will be pleased by your kind remarks about his digital work.

Best wishes
Peter

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August 15th 2018

Some correspondence with Daniel Everitt on the subject of crucians in Napton Reservoir.

From: Daniel Everitt
Sent: 13 August 2018 10:26
To: peter.rolfe@crucians.org
Subject: Possible back hybrid.

Hi Peter

For many years now I have been angling after the few age old crucians that still reside in Napton Reservoir in Warwickshire. The last four years though this interest has become obsession and the quest intensified to practically consume my summers fishing. Over this period I've collected a small group pictures through friends, acquaintances and by sheer cheek that has Identified eight fish so far. These fish are obviously very old and from the research done by another obsessive with access to EA labs their strain hails from a original site in Wales apparently.

Catching even one of these fish a year is good going and this year so far my dedication has put me in the envious position of catching two. Though my pair could have been a trio if it wasn't for the doubts I have of my most recent capture. I think to most anglers this would appear to be a true crucian and to anyone desperate to catch a Napton crucian they would certainly never question its lineage. To me this one did not look right from the moment it was in my landing net.

From what I can see it's got a 31 lateral line scale count, but has (although the picture does not show it) a perfect crucian dorsal fin. The colour is obviously very wrong. So in my mind there is no doubt it is a crucian × goldfish hybrid. But the fact that it looks so much like a crucian has me wondering is it a back hybrid of some sort. The thing that makes me think this is the limited number of fish present in the water. It's almost like the hybridization is in question because of the rarity of the parents to hybridize from.

Napton Reservoir Crucians Napton Reservoir Crucians Napton Reservoir Crucians

It is commonly believed that the Napton crucians are very old indeed as they were stocked many years ago and no younger fish have ever been caught and this leads me to believe that this fish might actually be part of that original batch if that is even possible.

Seeking your opinion.

Daniel Everitt
http://thelureofangling.blogspot.com/

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 13 August 2018 16:00
To: 'Daniel Everitt'
Subject: RE: Possible back hybrid.

Hi, Daniel. Yes, I can see your dilemma. The fins that I can see and, from your description, the dorsal, are very much crucian in shape and the lower ones darkening towards the tip. Body shape, too, is fine for a cru though perhaps the head and mouth aren't quite right - but I can't really put my finger on why. Colour and scale count, though, clearly indicate hybrid. Only a DNA test would confirm a back cross, I'm afraid - so little work has been done on this that it's a bold person who would claim that identification from a photo, even one as good as this. I think it's safest to confirm it as a cru × goldfish hybrid with a more than usual leaning towards the former - why that should be so, I can't explain.

As to source, well, I suppose it could have been part of an original stocking i.e. put in mistakenly for a cru. Our best guestimate as to life span of crus is 20 years, so if the Napton fish go back further than this, it just could be a fish spawned there from a rogue goldfish. You are obviously happy that the crus you are so conscientiously hunting are the genuine article. Have you a pic for comparison, I wonder?

I'm full of admiration for your dedication. It all goes to prove that fishing is so much more than catching fish! How big is Napton?

Would you have any objection to my using this correspondence and pics on the website? It is a very interesting subject to a crucian freak!

Regards
Peter

From: Daniel Everitt
Sent: 14 August 2018 09:33
To: Peter Rolfe
Subject: Re: Possible back hybrid.

Hi Peter

I personally find the subject of fish hybridization intriguing. Something I have theorized regarding roach/bream hybrids is that the dominant traits are dependant on which species is which parent. e.g. if the mother is a bream the offspring will look more like a bream and less like a roach and vice versa. Or that the parent will the more dominate (less diluted) genes give the offspring more of its features as is the case with dog breeding.

I feel sure I've probably read somewhere that crucians life span is thought to be around 20 years, but to be honest I and many others fishing for them were under the impression that these Napton fish were very old and the original stocking may have been 40+ years ago. If 20 years is accurate then the crucians we are fishing for are more than likely generation two or three.

Napton Reservoir is a levelling reservoir for the adjacent Grand Union canal. Being on a hillside its very shallow on the canal side then runs down into 18ft in places on the Dam side. The location, shape and depths add together to make it a very slow water to warm in the spring which becomes intensely weedy in the summer. predominantly it is a tench water with a few large carp, sprinkling of big bream and millions upon millions of rudd, roach and perch. All of the afore-mentioned fish make searching for the few remaining crucians quite a daunting task. However the future for Napton looks bright as Leamington Angling Association obtained the rights for it after the previous club let it go and in the three years so far we have seen the introduction of fresh tench and 500 small crucians. The construction of an otter fence is currently under way and this combined with more fish planned fish stocking looks certain to herald a golden time for this midland gem.

I have included a link to some interesting drone footage of Napton which gives a good view of the water and its sheer size;

Also I have attached a few examples of the Crucians I have caught from this water and I feel sure you will understand my instant doubts about the hybrid fish when you see them and also see why we believe this fish to be quite old. Interestingly there seems to have been little to zero recruitment after this generation of fish as they all seem to be around the same size and state, which might indicate that they haven't spawned successfully or that the small number and any offspring produced combined with high predator numbers hampers means not many small fish survive.

You are more than welcome to use any correspondence or pictures you choose to as all of the picture I have sent are mine.

Daniel Everitt
http://thelureofangling.blogspot.com/

15th August 2018

Daniel, why not find a spare scale - when that rare opportunity arises! - and put it under a microscope. That could well be a way of finding out how old your lovely fish are. I can see why you are obsessed with catching them. It would be really interesting to know if you are fishing for original fish or a later generation.

Like you, I've always been interested in hybridisation. We're lucky that so far we do not have Gibel Carp in the UK - that would make our problems many times worse.

Any stocking with crucians may need to be repeated to be effective, especially in so big a water and one containing perch. Otherwise it could be a repetition of the old, familiar story of: "We put in a lot of crucians ten years ago and they just disappeared." See 'Crock of Gold…' and the website for some thoughts on restocking. Any crucian fry now are probably gobbled up or starved out by the hosts of other fish, so an annual re-stocking is needed to bring about an eventual balanced crucian population, though it may never be self-regenerating.

How big do the perch grow? - that information needs to be taken into consideration before deciding what size crucians to re-stock with.

Fingers crossed for the resurgence of your wonderful reservoir and its crucians.

Best wishes
Peter

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June 27th 2017

Some correspondence with Hans van der Pauw on the subject of crucians in the Netherlands.

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 24 June 2017
Subject: Crucian carp

Dear Mr. Rolfe,

My name is Hans van der Pauw, from the Netherlands. I'm a historian by profession and an angler by some inner urge which, after fifty years of angling, I haven't been able to figure out to my satisfaction yet. I came upon your website through that of Hugh Miles. I have a soft spot for crucians. I've always found them the fish you find at the end of the rainbow. I haven't caught many of them, alas, and always by accident. Sometimes by weird accident. Many years ago - probably in the early 1980s -I caught a sizeable crucian on a Heddon River Runt plug. It stuck half out of its mouth like a Cuban cigar and the tail treble was very hard to remove. That was my first unusual experience with them. Another surprising occurrence was a crucian I caught in the summer of 1987. This one had very large fins, like a 'veil-tail' goldfish. My younger brother made a Polaroid photo of me holding that fish, of which I will add a scan. I've always been curious about this phenomenon. I suppose it's rare, but I can't find any information on it. So I would like to ask you if have you ever come across it. If so, I'd be grateful to hear from you.

In the Netherlands the crucian carp stocks have slowly been declining after WW-II, mostly because of the loss of appropriate habitat, if I've read my literature well. In the past three decades or so, crucians have also been gradually ousted by the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) in some regions, so I guess I'll have to hurry if I want to catch a few crucians by design instead of by accident. I don't know if that's the case in Britain as well; I get the idea that breeding with common carp is more of a problem there for the survival of crucian stocks.

By the way, did you know the crucian carp appeared on the Danish 50 krones banknote in the 1970's? When on holiday in Denmark in those days I was very much taken in by that - these blue notes were hard to spend. (I'll add a pic of that too.)

Regards,

-Hans van der Pauw-

Hans' 'veil-tail' goldfish The crucian on a Danish 50 krones banknote

Van: Peter Rolfe
Verzonden: zondag 25 juni 2017

Dear Hans

Thank you for your interesting email. The big-finned "crucian" was almost certainly a "brown goldfish", just possibly a crucian × goldfish hybrid. In the UK the goldfish has contributed to the crucian decline in the same way that the gibel carp has on the continent - by taking over crucian habitat and hybridising with Carassius carassius.

One of the main problems we encountered in our conservation efforts was that anglers here found it difficult to distinguish true crucians from brown goldfish and the even more lookalike crucian hybrids. Hybrids between common carp and crucians, and indeed goldfish and common carp, are a quite popular anglers' fish in commercial fisheries. In the wild they are less common and generally less of a problem than goldfish × crucian. They still confuse some, though.

Crucian conservation is now well advanced in UK, I am glad to say, and we know much more about them than we did and how to manage ponds and lakes for them. It is possible that in the years to come, the only true crucians will be in the remoter parts of Europe and in the UK. WE hope that the Channel will keep us safe from the gibel carp!

I have never heard of a crucian taking a lure, Hans. They have rather small mouths. But then I have read of bream and rudd taking lures in the Netherlands - in Stillwater Angling by Richard Walker. The fish on the Danish 50 krones banknote is very interesting, though the dorsal fin looks a bit suspicious! I have been told that in Denmark the goldfish is known as the "golden crucian" - still more confusing.

If you are really interested in the crucian, I do recommend getting hold of a copy of Crock of Gold - Seeking the Crucian Carp, the definitive book on the species. You can get it on Amazon. It is a really in-depth study of the fish. Your English is so excellent, you will have no trouble reading it.

Thank you for getting in touch and for sharing your experiences. Do you mind if I put these emails on my website, to interest other crucian enthusiasts?

Very best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 25 June 2017 16:42

Dear Peter,

I was surprised to hear your opinion on the big finned crucian. I've never heard of a brown goldfish in Dutch literature. Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) do seem to occur in Dutch waters. According to a serious Dutch biological book on the fresh water fish in this country, they were introduced in the Netherlands from China in the 17th century and have since been set free or had time enough to escape into Dutch waters - the latter seems quite clever to me, from a bowl. They are considered the golden variation of what we call a 'giebel' (gibel carp: Carassius auratus gibelio) and as these orange critters are highly vulnerable for predation in the wild (as some evil live-baiting pikers know), the less gold their offspring has, the better they survive. This results in mostly gibel-couloured goldfish in the wild (your brown goldfish, I assume), that are consequently almost or completely undistinguishable from the true gibel. So the book has it. I get the feeling this is all quite confusing for the biologists themselves as well. But obviously you know much more about the subject - even so, I wish you luck!

Members of the biological carp family do predate on small fish to some degree. Rudd have regularly been caught on very small spinners over here in Holland, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when ultralight spinning was more 'en vogue' over here and rudd were purposefully fished for with tiny spinners. I've tried that myself several times, in those days, but have never succeeded in catching a single rudd that way. Actually, in 50 years of angling I've caught only three members of the carp family on lures. The first one, somewhere in the early 1980's, was the fairly large crucian carp I already mentioned. It was some 30 cm, if my memory still works correctly, and it took a Heddon River Runt plug - not even a tiny size Heddon, but a floater in the regular 3 inch size (I have a picture of that very plug, that I will add). Indeed it was a miracle how the crucian had succeeded in grabbing it, as its mouth closed almost completely over the back half of the plug and it was an enormous hassle to get the treble out by sliding an artery forceps between the plug and its mouth. It took some time as well, reason why I didn't prolong the suffering any more by taking pictures. The second time it was a bream of about 40 cm which took a small (2 inch) Sölvkroken Favorit spoon and the third was a carp of about 55 to 60 cm which took a Shakespeare 'Little S' plug. When it grabbed the plug, well into its mouth, it felt like the plug hooked a submerged mattress or something. There was no hit to be felt on the rod but instead a gradual increase in tension and then the fish sailed off to port side, ahoy. A very strange experience, I remember: I couldn't make out what was going on at all, nor what was shimmering in the water when the fish came in. Like I said: only three such unusual experiences in 50 years of angling. Statistics could have been a little more generous.

As to the 'karusse' (Danish for crucian carp) on the 50 kroner bank note from the 1975-1999 period, I agree about the dorsal, it does look rather gibel-like. It was meant to depict a true crucian though. It was reproduced from a drawing by the illustrator and architect Ib Andersen (1907-1969).

I have quite some Danish angling books, but there is very little in them on the distinction between the crucian and the gible. Incidentally, the gibel is called 'dam-karusse' over there, which translates as 'pond crucian' even though my Dutch biology work says it's the crucians that favour the ponds and the gibels prefer a bit of flow in the water. Furthermore, in Denmark the goldfish is called 'guldfisk' or - indeed - 'sølvkarusse', which means silver crucian (and not golden crucian, I'm afraid - I don't know why they do this to us). 'Sølvkarusse' seems a more appropriate name for the gibel, I think, and I did see some fish called 'sølvkarusse' on Danish websites that seem to be gibels, or at least have that colour (I couldn't judge them by their dorsals on the pics).

The Danish record for karusse (crucian) is 4 kilo's. It was caught by a Henrik Nielsen on October 15, 2006 in a lake on Sjælland, Denmark's biggest island. I'll add a picture of that fish, to make up for all the confusion.

Finally I hope Brexit will also prevent Britain from gibels spreading into the country. In that way at least some good may come of it.

Very best wishes to you too,

-Hans-

PS, Since you asked, I don't mind at all if you put my e-mails on your website.

Van: Peter Rolfe
Verzonden: maandag 26 juni 2017

Hans, hi

I don't know whether you have seen this but it is evidence that you do have some good crucians still in Holland! What a beauty!

Best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 27 June 2017

Dear Peter,

Thanks for the picture of the splendid Dutch crucian. Strangely I hardly ever read anything about crucians in Dutch magazines or on Dutch angling websites. Until very recently it didn't even cross my mind that we had such beautiful yet neglected fish swimming around here. Well, somewhere, surely... Perhaps most carp anglers prefer quantity (in pounds per fish) over quality. This fallacy started here in the early 1970s, when specimen hunting was adopted from England. Back then it even caused a sharp controversy between traditional carp anglers that praised the purity and power of the wild carp over the sullen dead weight of the model potato bag carp, that was originally bred and meant for consumption, not for sport. The heated discussions on racial purity would be very politically incorrect today - I believe we came very short of having the traditional wild carp called the Arian carp.

This makes me wonder: in Britain, where traditionally people seem to have a fine nose for social stratification (with definitions like 'upper middle class' and so on), does the crucian have a higher status among anglers than the brown goldfish - or rather, is the true and pure crucian valued more than the brown goldfish or cross-breads? In a way I hope not, as these fish themselves are all quite innocent: they swim around doing their best being what they are and have very little knowledge on taxonomy. But then again, I can imagine you strive for pure crucians in your waters, as a means of conservation of the species, which I find admirable of course!

Best wishes!

-Hans-

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 27 June 2017

Hans, good morning.

Several times I've mischievously suggested that if, as I believe and the literature indicates, the goldfish and the crucian came into the UK at about the same time, then both are worthy of conservation. The response has always been a deafening silence! I have had some experience of an accidental goldfish fishery and it had quite a lot going for it: the fish were beautiful, even the ones that did not develop the red-gold colouring; they fought hard; they fed throughout the year during the day, if the conditions were at all favourable; they grew faster than crucians, I think.

But yes, my focus is on the crucian, largely because it has been more genuinely in danger of extinction here, perhaps world-wide. The crucian movement has done so much to improve the situation and I'm proud that my advice on how to manage crucian fisheries (in "Crock of Gold...") has shown individuals and clubs the way to be successful.

But I do have a sneaking sympathy with the goldfish, though of course there is no risk of its disappearing thanks to the ornamental market and its fish enthusiasts.. If I were younger, I should look out for an enclosed pond or lake that I could turn into a super goldfish water!

The hybrids, though, complicate the issue. They can be very successful and take over a water, with the ever-present possibility of back-crossing and a consequent alphabet soup of "species". Sometimes they are very attractive fish; often they are insipid in colour and appearance.

So the best compromise, I believe, is to make sure that crucians and goldfish are never in the same pond or lake because in the end both true species would be eliminated, especially since we now know that hybrids are not always sterile.

I share your reservations about carp. In some ways it is a shame that the mystique of carp fishing has disappeared. On the other hand modern carp fishing gives a lot of pleasure to very many people. We have to be alert, though, to the danger that carp - like Tesco - could take over the world!

Best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 28 June 2017
Subject: Various

Hi Peter,

I did find a picture of the crucian I caught on the plug after all - even two pictures! I know you are an expert on crucians and as you told me you had never heard of crucians caught on lures, I felt somewhat uncomfortable; I would want you to think I was telling some wild story. So I went up to the attic and searched in some old albums. Several things surprised me. One is that I did make pictures of the fish, although I was almost sure I didn't, two is that I was painfully mistaken by no less than a decade in when I caught it (not in the early 1980s but in Februari 1991), three that the fish was actually larger than my estimate of some 30 cm, as it measured 37 cm. I've added the pictures, on which the Heddon River Runt plug that took the fish is visible as well.

Heddon River Runt plug and crucian Heddon River Runt plug and crucian

Something else. Did you know crucians thrive in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? I came across them last month on the island of São Miguel, one of the Azores. The Azores are a group of islands in the middle of the Atlantic, at about the same latitude as Lisbon and New York. That's where all the depressions seem to come from, so one gets curious. São Miguel is an island of unparalleled natural beauty. Its origins are volcanic, it's mountainous and very green with lots of birds and a moderate temperature the year round.

I stayed in a couple of places on the island. One was a small cottage at the shore of one of the two crater lakes of Sete Cidades, in the west of the island. These are two lakes, one fairly deep (up to 19 meters) and blue, one more shallow and greener, because of more vegetation and algae. Both lakes are separated by a dam which has large arched openings in the middle so the water and the fish of both lakes are well connected. I'v added a picture which shows the situation from a bird's perspective (that bird was me, in this case).

The lakes are stocked with fish, at least for over a century but probably much longer, I don't know. At the beginning of the dam is a small bed of flowers with an old plaque in it, consisting of glazed tiles, which tells about the lakes and the fish they contain. I've added a pic of that as well.The first fish that is mentioned on the plaque is the crucian carp.

the two crater lakes of Sete Cidades At the beginning of the dam is a small bed of flowers with an old plaque in it, consisting of glazed tiles, which tells about the lakes and the fish they contain

I haven't fished the lakes, as I had no rods with me, but I saw many carp cruising and jumping and some perch as well, as the water is very clear. I could bare the sight of the carp, but I would have loved to go after the perch with a very light spinning outfit.

I also visited lake in the eastern half of the island, at Furnas. There is a siniar plaque over there, which a failed to take a picture of, but I believe it mentioned about the same fish, and possibly also trout. The water in this lake was apparently higher than usual as the grassy areas around its borders were partly submerged and in the shallow water hundreds of carp were spawning very wildly - mostly fish of some 50 to 60 cm.

Were you aware of crucians in that remote part of Europe (São Miguel is still on the European tectonic plate, some of the more westerly Azores are on the American plate) ?

Best wishes,

-Hans-

(Webmaster JAA JAA awards Hans bonus points for the use of a Cardinal 44 reel.)

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 27 June 2017

How interesting, Hans. Yep, that's a crucian on a lure alright. The Lake(s) look superb but I bet the fishing is difficult! I wonder if any crucians still survive, with all that competition and predation - and where they came from in the first place.

You are providing me with some fascinating stuff to use if I ever do a second edition of Crock of Gold... In the meantime, the website will benefit.

Best wishes

Peter

From: vanderpauw@planet.nl
Date: 11/07/2017 19:14
Subj: Fish on the Azores

Hi Peter,

As I said, I planned to dig a little deeper into the crucian carp and the stocking of fish on the Azores. I inquired at the Direção Regional dos Recursos Florestais (the Forestry Department) on the main island of São Miguel, that also supervises the fresh water fish stocks. They gave me details on the stocking of fish on São Miguel. Carp were imported first, from Germany in 1890. This was done by José Maria Raposo de Amaral, the greatest landowner of the island and in many aspects probably the most important and powerful local man of those days. Roach followed in 1895, brought from England by William Hayes, then Consul of England. And then came the perch, in 1898, also brought from England, by José Maria Raposo de Amaral again.

According to the Direcão pike and sander are late-comers, in 1978 and 1981 respectively, which seems strange as they are mentioned on the plaques near both lakes, which certainly seem to be much older than 1981. These plaques also mention the crucian carp, but the Direcão has no (separate) information on this species; maybe the crucians were considered plain (common) carp, I don't know. Also the Direcão says sander only live in the lake at Furnas, even though the plaque at the lake at Sete Cidades clearly mentions them.

I wonder if these lakes really were complete fishless before 1890 - for many thousands of years, that is.

I enclose the correspondence for your interest.

Best wishes,

-Hans van der Pauw-

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 14 July 2017

Hans, apologies for delay - computer problems! I imagine that the fish from Germany included the crucians - at least that is what I would have expected since the crucian seems to be a northern European fish, not a Romancer!

Thanks for the research!

Best wishes

Peter

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May 27th 2017

A follow up letter from Andrew Cooper about complementary species for crucians

From: Andrew Cooper
Sent: 27 May 2017 19:24
Subject: Complimentary species

Hi Peter,

I have just read of your experiments with stocking other species alongside crucians and wanted pass on my own thoughts that may deserve experimentation. In my last message to you I mentioned a farm pond I had fished that held a healthy stock of crucians, that grew to a good size for such a small water. The only other fish in this water were sticklebacks. I believe that these helped to reduce the success of each spawning by consuming large quantities of eggs and fry. Adult fish were unaffected by their presence and retained the low-back shape. Ruffe (another declining species?) would possibly perform a similar function but may induce the discoid shape in younger fish due to their predatory nature?

Obviously, if the purpose is to introduce an alternative angling target, then neither is ideal, however, if it is to allow crucians to grow to a reasonable size without stunting in a smaller water...

Kind regards and best wishes for the new season, Andrew Cottier-Cooper

P.S. I have found a number of crucian waters local to me since my last message, the best of which is Kingstanding Pools (Burton Mutual AA). My biggest from this water last year was just shy of 2lbs and they are still growing.

From: Peter Rolfe
Subject: RE: Complimentary species

Thanks for that, Andrew. I did know about the possible spawn-eating by sticklebacks but it's is good to have anecdotal confirmation. I caught ruffe on the Waverney many years ago. Would they thrive in stillwater? Then they were a nuisance when we were after the bream. Now I guess they are not caught as frequently. Sadly anglers are unlikely to spring to their defence as they are doing so effectively for crucians.

I am glad you have found some decent crucian fishing. They are an addictive species!

Please keep in touch.

Best wishes

Peter

P.S. If you don't mind, I'll include this on my website Correspondence page. Someone may have similar experiences and it all helps to build up knowledge.

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May 1st 2017

A follow up from Lucjan from Poland, who wrote in February. He has written an article in his Polish fishing magazine, trying to arouse interest in the decline of the crucian there. The photo of a Dutch crucian looks splendid, but note Lucian's comment. The Gibel is spreading across Europe and is popular with anglers. What hope is there for the poor crucian?

Hi Peter!

Thanks for that contact! I am not sure if I can get any help there, but always I can try!

In Poland we have to go through the long battle for crucians. Situation is not easy, there are still wild, small ponds, lakes with true crucians, but for how long? In my opinion, without proper help from the government or EU, it will be hard to keep them 'clean'. We have to start from the beginning - make the people aware, what is going on. We have scientists connected with fishermans, they allowed to stock invasive Gibelio in many waters. I don't know, if other scientist know, that crucian carp is very rare spiecis, and it should be treated with special care.

For now, we have some plans, to find small ponds, which would grow crucians and tench, for stocking other waters. But its'not easy. Maybe it would be, if we start fundation or another 'project', but we need more time and people. If my magazine will survive next months, that would be possible :-)

The problem is, that we would need proper plans and instructions, how to start with such a 'stock' ponds, which species should be there, how to feed the fish, etc. We would be very grateful, if you could help us somehow. In Poland is very hard to stock crucians,because is hard to buy crucian fry or bigger crucians. Stock ponds are a great idea, because many clubs could stock their waters with their own fish.

Please have a look at the picture - there is a big crucian carp caught in Netherlands, by my friend, few weeks ago. He said is very hard to get crucians in that country, Gibelio took their place, it is one of the most popular spiecies there...

Also look at the article - on the page 14, Ihope you won't be disappointed.

I have plans to make some underwater videos this year, I'll join Godalming AS soon, and I hope to catch some nice crucians with my camera. It's only one place in my area, near London, with clear water and crucians. Maybe I get more attention with such a videos?

Best wishes!

Lucjan

a big crucian carp caught in Netherlands, by Lucjan's friend
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April 17th 2017

Two cracking crucians, caught by Richie Martin, one of last year's winners in the Angling Trust's "Catch a Crucian" competition. These two fish were caught at Godalming AC's Johnson's Lake a week or so ago, just before the water closed to let the crucians spawn in peace.

Hi Peter,

Hope you are well, just wanted to send a couple of pics from last week,

I genuinely was re-reading Reflections on Still water when the bobbin lifted for the 3lb 13oz pictured below!

The one with me with my mouth open (rare I hear you say haha!) was 4lb 2oz

Crazy couple of hours, of action made all the more enjoyable by sitting back with a cuppa reading your beautiful book!

Thank you Peter

Kind regards

Richie

Richie Martin's crucian double Richie Martin's crucian double
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April 5th 2017

On April 5th 2017, Martin Salter wrote to me asking me to confirm the identity of a fine fish, which he felt was a crucian, caught by Nigel Ashworth, secretary of Whitworth Valley Angling Society. The fish weighs about 4lbs and Nigel thought there were bigger ones in the lake. Perhaps an exciting new big crucian water had been discovered.

After I had seen a second photograph, my reply was as follows:

"Lovely fish, Martin, but still not a crucian I fear, despite the fine dorsal. It just isn't right, a bit like the ex-Swedish record fish which gut feeling told me wasn't a crucian, even though in that case the lateral line scale count was ok. In the end they DNA-ed it and found it was a gibel carp x crucian. There are so many hybrids and back crosses out there, it is a veritable minefield."

"Sometimes, indeed, all the counts and fin shapes are ok but something about the fish tells you that it isn't pukka. With this fish the scale count is very dubious because normally the little scale at the tail end doesn't count and this fish has two of them, which you have counted as full scales, I think. Again, this is moot!"

"Colouration is difficult to make a judgement on alone because fish do vary according to the water they come from, but this one is again not quite right: it lacks the usual richness of a crucian. The underfins don't have enough darkness towards the end enough to be a true big crucian. Again, small crucians sometimes lack this, but it is usually quite marked in the case of a big true cru."

"The crux for me is the head shape and the appearance of the scales, neither really cruciany!"

"Why not get the fish DNA-ed? It shouldn't cost too much and will establish the validity of the lake's stock one way or the other. I'd wager quite a lot of money (if I were a betting man!), though, that it is a hybrid, as Chris suggests."

"Sorry!

Best wishes

Peter"

Here is the photograph. I have no doubts that it is of a hybrid, almost certainly crucian x goldfish. See what you think!

Crucian hybrid
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14th February 2017

Lucjan Sliwa of the Polish Anglers Association wrote to me about 'karas pospolity'

14th February 2017. Article about crucians

Hello Peter!

My name is Lucjan Sliwa, I am a keen angler, member of Polish Anglers Association, Polish angling club in UK.

I love crucians, I try to do something about that slowly disappearing species in my country. In Poland crucian carp is called karas pospolity -which means common crucian. It was very common indeed... I remember when I was young few ponds full of them. Now situation is almost critical. Crucian is almost gone, his place took gibel carp. It's very sad, in Poland no one is defending them. Government body allows to stock gibel carp, which is one of the most succesful invasive spiecies! They are everywhere, from sub mountains fast rivers, almost all stillwater, rivers,to salty water of Baltic Sea. Young anglers call them crucian, they don't know the differences between those two species. Angling association dosn't see a problem, they even establish the record fish not as crucian carp and gibel carp, but just crucian. It's very sad. With every year they become harder to find, for most anglers they are rare.

I live in the UK, and together with my club we have newspaper, which will be distributed in UK and in Poland. I would love to translate one of your articles, to show to anglers how big problem we face today, how we can loose that beautiful fish. In one of articles you wrote for IFM, you are describing how to help crucians by establishing special ponds to breed them. Do you agree to have that article translated?

You know, one of the problems in Poland is how scientists are behaving. They are focusing on fishing industry, for them is important to have a 'product', they don't care about species like crucian carp, they want to achieve maximum productivity from netted waters. They don't like anglers to be honest. I wrote one article before, in one of the biggest angling magazine, about the crucians, but I am not a scientist. For them the problem does not exist. They allowed to stock gibel carp (they call it binding the biomass), which is like a death sentence for common crucian. Your article, with connection with IFM would be perfect, because it's not a thought of angler -'crucian nutter' (I mean myself), but proper article, from proper scientific magazine.

Of course as well more people can understand where the problem lies. I would love to start similar project in Poland, in the UK we also want to do something (from our club you have full support). But the first thing is to educate anglers. Not everyone knows what is going on...

I hope you say 'yes', so more thing can be done. It is too late to stop the gibel carp on the continent, but for sure many crucians ponds could be created. I fish both Marsh Farm and Milton Lake in Dorking, and a lot people like my videos from there (I got my Youtube channel), they would love to fish typical tench and crucian waters, but now carp is everywhere. Thanks to you and articles - like this one from IFM, someone could have the knowledge what to do, how to breed crucian so it can help to save the them!

I've sent e-mail to the IFM, but they didn't answer.

Article was in the issue dated October 2014. FM_article_O

Peter, I love your work, I really appreciate what you do!

Thanks

Lucjan Sliwa

14th February 2017. RE: Article about crucians

Of course, Lucjan, please do use my article in any way you wish. You have contacted IFM and shame on them for not replying. The copyright rests with me and I give you full permission to translate or use it as you choose. Please acknowledge my authorship, that is all.

I imagine you have read "Crock of Gold." and have seen my website: www.crucians.org . If anything there can help just let me know.

I wish you success in your fight to conserve the crucian. The cause is going well in the UK, thanks to the involvement of enthusiastic people like Chris Turnbull, Martin Salter, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust, but the crucian was in danger of extinction here too until we all got together. So do not despair - and good luck.

Best wishes

Peter

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16th November 2016

John Manley contacted me about a neglected pond near Dereham.

Hello Peter,

I have recently taken over a neglected pond from Dereham Town Council, and have secured a 50 year licence to control the fishing rights and look after the welfare of this beautiful pond that I have fished since 1978. It has always held a few Crucians,Tench, and Roach, and in February this year, I founded Toftwood Community Angling Club, in a bid to encourage the youngsters in the local community to make better use of a facility that is now right on their doorstep because it is now surrounded by a huge housing estate, with a majority of the houses being homes to young families with children, who have little to do in the area.

I am trying to improve the fishing, the wildlife, and fauna in and around the pond. One major problem that faces me is the amount of silt and debris in the pond. At the East end of the pond (which is 90 yards long and 35 yards wide) there is a huge collection of silt which is 5 foot deep in some areas.

The deepest part of the pond was 11 feet deep when I first started fishing it, but now has 3 feet of sweet compost smelling silt on the bottom. My question is, what is the best way to remove the silt??? We have dragged the pond extensively and removed the bikes, shopping trolleys, fence posts, trees and hundreds of branches, not to mention some burgled jewellery that we handed over to the local police!!!!

Since clearing the pond, we have managed to create an extra 8 fishing platforms, which means we now have 10 places to fish from, and our 2 "Free Family Fishing days" that I organised in conjunction with the Angling Trust (the club are now members) has encouraged membership of the new club to blossom to 55 members, half of which are youngsters, with half of those being under 10!!!

So the future is bright, but funding is hard to come by, even though I am now into my second funding bid.

I would love to have your views on how we can make this little gem of a water even better, but especially how you see the stocking of Crucians, and the silt removal, within our programme of improvement.

Regards,

John Manley,
Founder Member,
Toftwood Angling Club.

20th November

Good morning, John.

How impressive. I do wish you well with such a brilliant project.

From what you write, you will have some difficulties, but they shouldn't badly effect what you're aiming to do.

First, the silt. Our usual response to a badly silted pond is of course to drain out all the water and dredge out the mud. But this is not always practicable - the cost is high, you have to have somewhere to put all the silt, and it is temporarily very destructive of the pond ecology. So you may have to live with the fact that there is a lot of silt there. If you have about 8' of water remaining in the deepest areas that is ok - what about the shallowest parts of the pond? How deep? What proportion of the pond is shallow, how much of acceptable depth?

Costs of dredging would be considerable. You'd probably need two excavators and tractors and trailers or dumpers. At about £35 per hour per machine, you can see how it mounts up. And that is assuming that you have somewhere close to dump the stuff, which it doesn't sound as if you have.

Another possible way forward is to try applications of micro-chalk (Siltex). I have had some experience of this, with rather inconclusive results. I am about to use it again on five small ponds I manage, so I obviously believe that it will help in my case.

It depends upon the kind of silt! If it is non-organic stuff (sand, etc) brought into the pond by a stream then chalking won't have very much effect - it only works on organic silt, the result of decayed weed, leaves, fish and bird faeces. I suggest you Google Siltex and Micro Chalk for more info. If it does no more that slow down rates of silt deposition then it may be worth consideration long term and there's just a chance that it may help more than that.

Costs for (say) an acre of water would be about £250 including VAT and delivery for 1 tonne. Add £500 if you wanted it spread for you but you possibly have use of a boat with an outboard motor and some labour - two or three good blokes would do it. I'm doing my ponds in early December to try to avoid too much resulting weed growth next summer, which could be an issue.

Secondly, the fish. Your problem with crucians is the proximity of people!

Sooner or later someone will dump unwanted goldfish in the pond and you will have certain hybridisation with crucians and lots of hybrids. Probably your chance of crucians breeding successfully, even with just roach to compete with, is not great so you will need to top up with crucians every year or two to give fishermen a reasonable chance of catching the true species. But that shouldn't deter you. It's not an ideal situation but you'll still get decent fishing. Tench and roach should be fine. If you have roach already I wouldn't add rudd - same problems with hybrids. Perch are fun for youngsters but can multiply quickly - they'll mop up crucian fry too: not a problem if you're restocking with crus regularly. Just make sure the crus you put in are too big for the perch you have to eat.

You'll be under pressure to add carp, which you don't mention. That's up to you, of course. Just be aware, as I'm sure you are already, that they can take over a pond. If you can net it regularly and sell the surplus, that needn't be a serious problem. They will interbreed with the crucians but not necessarily problematically. The same applies as to the goldfish/crucian mix: in a mixed fishery, largely for youngsters, it may be acceptable as long as you can top up with crus if they are a main species. I would not, myself, allow carp to dominate the lake. Carp waters are two a penny and don't encourage the variety of fishing methods that mixed species do - so no-one learns to use a float or a centre-pin!

I hope that all helps, John. Please don't hesitate to get in touch again. If you like, phone me - I'm in most evenings.

And the very best of luck with the enterprise.

Best wishes

Peter

PS I'll put this correspondence on the website if you have no objection. It may well help others.

20th November

Hi Peter, thanks a lot for your great reply, all of which I have taken on board. I feel the addition of Siltex to be the one to go for long term. I will have a thorough read of it and budget for that next year maybe. I would like to get Crucians and Tench stocks improved, and there are 2 suppliers on Norfolk advertising them in the 6-8" range, so may try to get 50 of each to start with. The shallower parts of the pond are only 3 feet at one end, under 3 protected Oak trees, but that end is not silted up. It's the deepest middle section, and the west facing end that is most heavily silted and it seems to be mainly leaves, and twigs and branches that have rotted down. It actually smells like damp compost, but is fairly black, but the silt itself is incredibly fine, almost green in colour, but doesn't smell of much at all. There is no pond weed to speak of in the pond apart from some water Lilly's and a large bullrush bed. We have planted some water Iris and sedge this Autumn.

Please feel free to publish what you wish. I am happy for you to use any part of my email, and our club name, if you want.

To my knowledge there is only 1 10lb carp in the pond but a few goldfish from compassionate owners is inevitable, and I know there are a few fantail Crucians in there, but they are all fish for the youngsters to catch, and they always make a surprised but happy comment when they are caught, so I'm happy with the situation.

Regards,

John.

21st November

Good luck with all of that, John.

Your fantails are either brown goldfish or goldfish x crucian crosses. But you can still add proper crucians to provide fishing for your favourite species - just don't expect them to breed true, if at all.

The Angling Trust has a fishery improvement grant scheme and I'm sure you would qualify very well for some financial help from them. Again, I suggest you Google AT, become a member - which I'd strongly recommend anyway, and find out how to apply. Come back to me if you have problems. Their Fish Legal scheme is worth considering too, to give you some recompense should pollution occur. Also, The EA have crucian stocks available free of charge for suitable waters, though the fish are small. They might frown at the presence of goldfish but if you explain the situation to them they could perhaps play ball.

Yes, I agree - chalking the pond may well help, though you'll probably need to do it more than once to have much effect. You may find that adding Siltex or Micro Chalk will result in much more weed next summer.

If your bulrushes are in fact reedmace, with the brown furry top, they can be dragged out easily enough if you want to control the size of the bed - though it does give shelter for birds. Regular cutting with a scythe will work too, with the emphasis on "regular". If it is true bulrush, with round, dark-green stems, cutting is probably the best solution if you want to reduce it. Or is it Norfolk reed? - this does need regular control if it not to take over the shallower parts of the pond. I can identify from photos if you're not sure what it is.

Iris and sedge are excellent, the ideal marginal plants.

I hope all that helps.

Best wishes - and more power to your elbow,

Peter

21st November

Hi Peter, Thanks for the added info.

The club have joined the Angling Trust, so we are members, and I will be applying for a Fishery improvement grant, I am in regular contact with the AT Regional officer, James Lewis, so I think I will email him and ask for an application form. I am expecting our membership to grow next year, so we will be increasing our subscriptions anyway, so I will give it a go. Thanks for the flag up on the EA and Crucians, I would like to think that the original stock of Crucians in this pond were "true" Crucians, I believe it was originally an old "Marle pit" as there are still huge lumps of flint lying on the bottom imbedded in the clay.

I must try to look at the history of the pond from the original landowners, who were Dutch.

Take care and thanks again,

John.

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17th October 2016

Stephen Marfleet contacted me about crucian carp in Home Park at Hampton Court.

Dear Mr Rolfe,

I read recently (in the newsletter of the Friends of Bushy & Home Parks) that crucian carp are to be introduced in to the Dew Pond in Home Park which is in front of Hampton Court Palace in SW London.

Knowing nothing about crucian carp (not being an angler) I was delighted to find your comprehensive website!

Thank you for going to the trouble of creating it. It will help my wife and I to get to know more about the crucian carp as we wend our merrie way through Home Park in the coming years.

It's a relatively small pond. There are usually cormorants in the Park during the winter months.But I imagine there are other places in the two parks where crucian carp already thrive/survive, so we hope the cormorants will not get too fat and happy.

Thanks again.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Marfleet

17th October 2016

RE: Crucian Carp in Home Park

Thank you for the good news, Mr Marfleet. The crucian cause has really taken off over the last two years. As you know, it was in danger of becoming just a memory in the UK but now we find ourselves in the position of beginning to think of the country as an ark site - the outlook for the crucian in Europe is bleak because of the spread of the gibel carp, closely related to crucians and with a great appetite for hybridisation.

Thank you for taking the trouble to tell me about the planned introduction. If I can help with confirmation of identity of the brood stock through photographs I would with pleasure do so - but hopefully those in charge of the stocking know what they are doing!

Best wishes

Peter Rolfe

PS Cormorants are bad news indeed, though!

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21st August 2016

John Johnstone contacted me a historical crucian record.

Hello Peter,

I was wondering if you could help me with a query regarding the Crucian Carp record?

In the 1970's I broke and subsequently held the Crucian Carp record. The fish weighed 4lbs 15ozs 8grams.

When I caught the fish I wasn't sure what the Crucian Carp record was but I knew the one I caught was a magnificent fish and I thought it stood a chance of breaking the record. Incidentally, I caught the fish at a complex of lakes in Kent called Johnsons, a day ticket water.

Anyway, I wrapped the fish up in wet towels, emptied my tackle box and hot footed it over to the Anglers' Den, Gillingham, Kent. The fish was fine on arrival and the Anglers' Den staff kindly put it in a bath of water. They then called for a few anglers, who were well known at the time and I'm sure you would know them as you and I are about the same age, to come and witness it. They witnessed it and weighed it in the Anglers' Den. They confirmed that in their opinion it was a Crucian Carp and the weight was accurate. Lovely. Then I asked what happens next to get the record and they said that I had to kill the fish and send it to London (University) so it could be verified as a true Crucian. Well, on hearing that I thought that as nice as it would be to hold a British record I was firmly against killing the fish because it was magnificent so they informed me that if I didn't kill it I wouldn't be awarded the record. So I said "OK, I know I've beaten it, I'm putting the fish back".

One of the experts said to me that it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to take the fish to a friend of his at the newspaper in Chatham who would take photographs from all different angles, which I did. Anyway, we submitted the claim as a matter of interest, photographs etc. and sent it off. On doing that I thought that was end of story. I couldn't get the record because I wasn't prepared to kill the fish. Anyway, I can't precisely tell you how long after all this but I was going to work one day and I bought the Angling Times, opened it up and there was a page of new British records and they had the new records and the existing records at the time and God Almighty there was my name. They had awarded me the record even 'though their policy at the time was that the fish had to be killed. So, that pleased me Peter because I thought I'd put the block on the fish having to be killed to get a record.

As you probably know, Peter, the current record now stands at 4lbs 9ozs and 8drams. Please, Peter, could you explain to me or help me to understand how I've caught a fish of 4lbs 15ozs and the current record is 4lbs 9ozs miles adrift of my record.

Hope you get the gist?

Regards,

John Johnstone

21st August 2016

John

In 1997 the existing crucian record list was scrapped because people at last realised that many of the entries were either brown goldfish or hybrids and I'm sure that in that list some of the fish, like yours, could well have been genuine.

Do you have any of those photos, John? I could perhaps tell from them whether your was a true cru. We know a lot more now about identifying the fish than people did then.

Best wishes

Peter

P.S. John has been in touch to say he is in discussion with the BRFC and has requested some of the photos if they still have them. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

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24th July 2016

Rhu Cayford contacted me last year about crucian fishing in Sweden and has been back in touch.

4th June 2015

Hi Pete,

As a Crucian enthusiast and a lover of the species I am always wanting to learn about this magnificent fish! I started fishing nearly 30 years ago and the lake I fished in Bishops Stortford (Malcolm barker memorial lake) was full of them! After catching my first I was hooked!

Since then I have fished many places and managed to get them up to 3lb 8oz. What I would love to do is catch a massive Crucian and I've heard there are some Giants in Sweden. As my brother lives there I feel this is the obvious choice. I just thought you might know who to contact. Any help would be appreciated.

Rhu Cayford

4th June 2015

Rhu, hi

I'll forward you a couple of contacts in Sweden.

If no joy, do get back to me.

Best wishes

Peter

PS Good luck, you lucky man!

24th July 2016

Hello Peter.

I don't know if you remember but about 18 months ago about information on fishing for crucians in Sweden and you gave me a few emails to try.

Following on from there my friend Keith and I decided to 'have a go' at fishing lake Ursjon in Sweden for 4 days and recently came back!

We caught 9 crucians to 3lb 12. They were truly beautiful fish and the surroundings were too. We saw snakes, lizards, beavers and didn't hear one road in the back ground! Needless to say we are returning next year! I would have to say this must be the premier place in the world for crucians! For beauty of the area and fish and having to fish for them the 'proper way' with light tackle small floats and small baits.

Also what was interesting was that water was only 2ft deep and below that 4ft of silt before you hit hard bottom which suggests that is why there are only crucians and a few perch and pike survive as when it freezes in winter I would think they bury themselves in silt so they truly are the most hardy of coarse species. (As well as the most beautiful).

A wonderful experience and without your help it would never have happened!

Thanks Peter,

Rhu.

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22nd April 2016

Dave Felce wrote with something interesting from Spain.

Hi there Peter!

Hope you don't mind me contacting you, but I thought you might be interested in this beauty (?) I caught on the fly last week, from an embalse (reservoir) in Extremadura, Spain.

Looking through your site I'd say it's most likely a crucian x goldfish (lateral line count 31). It was certainly a thumper; I didn't weigh it but would estimate it at over 4lbs but under 5. I was targeting carp at the time using a "bellycrawl" nymph pattern and it gave me a pretty good work-out on the #6 weight!

All the best

Dave Felce (Corsican dave)

P.S. lovely site, btw. I've added it to my favourites

Spanish hybrid
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