Correspondence 2013

Contributions may be sent to Peter Rolfe.


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1st October 2013

Teemu Etela-Aho wrote from Finland, where crucians grow just as big as they do in Sweden. 2kg is about 4lbs 7oz! I bet his English is better than our Finnish!

Hi Peter!

Greetings, from here the cold Finnish.

Crucian season went really fast over the lake waters then cooled very quickly. Four angling trip I managed to do during the fall. Every trip I did the same to a location where I got last year, the real monster crucians.

But now the really big ones remained hidden. I was really lucky and got some really great crucians.

Four exceeded the 1.5kg and one +2kg!

The attached I put a couple of photos.

Teemu Etela-Aho's 2kg+ crucian

And there would be a bit writings of my angling trips

http://teemue.blogspot.fi/2013/08/ruutanoita.html

http://teemue.blogspot.fi/2013/08/gourmeeta-sen-olla-pitaa.html

Best Regards

Teemu Etelš-Aho

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25th September 2013

Hello Peter,

I've been a frequent visitor to your website for a while now and must say it's been an interesting read on those occasions. I live up in Manchester and one of the first memories I have of fishing, when I was 5 or 6, hopping on the bus with my dad to a small farm pond, paying 50p to the farmer, and fishing for hordes of stunted crucians with bread. It was amazing. Much different than the usual skimmers and roach we caught on our local canal. Little bars of gold, I'd never seen such pretty fish!

They're still in my top three fish and whenever I can I try to fish for them. Sadly, waters are a bit hard to come by, especially up north, but recently I have found a little gem of a place. A former sand quarry, full of them. I've had them to an ounce over 2lb. Each session usually produced 15-20 fish in just a three or four hour morning session. All the fish over a pound. I've attached some links to my blog for you to have a look. I'm not 100% they are true crucians but they look pretty near to me. What do you think? And now, I apologise for not holding up the dorsal!

One of Vinny's crucians Two more of Vinny's cracking crucians

Keep up the great work, the crucians depend on you.

Regards

Vinny

That's really good crucian fishing, Vinny, and they're lovely fish - of course, pure gold! No doubt at all that they're the real thing. What a lucky guy!

That's a water to cherish and protect with your life! Does anyone else fish it? How big is it?

Can I use your email on the website? Would you like to write an account of a morning's fishing for it, to further the cause?

Best wishes

Peter

Hi Peter,

The water is quite interesting. It is run by a small club who fish matches on it. There's a good head of silvers in there, and some shoals of bream. The odd tench make up the numbers as do the hordes of tiny perch. Only a few carp are present, big old fish certainly over 20 years old. Thankfully it seems the club are aware that the stock of crucians are special and so will not be stocking any small king carp in the future. Apart from the match anglers, it seems that its not fished a lot at all. It's about 4-5 acres and has depths pretty much everywhere to 20+ft. Fishing in the margins, which are 4-5ft, is obviously the way to go. It's challenging and I've done less than 8 sessions on it. I'm sure if I put the effort into it next spring/summer I might catch the odd bigger fish. There's got to be enough 'water' for fish to thrive to good sizes. Not that fish approaching 2lb aren't good sizes!

I will definitely write up something about one of the sessions for your website. Might take me a few weeks though. I'll send some extra pictures too.

I'm VERY happy that you think they're true crucians. That's good enough for me. They are beautiful fish regardless. To me crucians represent what angling is all about. That nervous anticipation. The fine margin between success and failure. And when you do fail, as I suppose you have to do, it only strengthens the urge to try all over again.

I'll keep you posted on anything that happens on the water and I shall write up an account of a session for you.

Thanks for getting back to me, and take care,

Vinny

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26th August 2013

The following correspondence dates from March 2013 and I've only just got round to sending it to the webmaster!

Phil Littlejohn wrote from Australia...

Hi, is it true that crucians have a single air bladder? (goldfish have a twin). I have just caught what I believe to be a crucian here in Australia but don't what to kill it. Perhaps if I get more I'll check.

Hi, Phil. Sorry, can't help with the swim bladder but I can probably identify your "crucian" from a sharp photo. Lateral line scale counts and shape of fins are a good way of identification, though not 100%. I've not heard of crucians in Australia but there are certainly goldfish in New Zealand!

Best wishes

Peter

Thanks Peter,

I will use your keys provided on your website (which is exellent). Our fisheries have identified crucians for the first time in Australia approx 6-12 months ago, believed to have been imported some 100 odd years ago. It's hard to believe they have gone unnoticed for that period although we have feral goldfish and even harder to believe they are pure and not hybrid because of that. I believe they are threatened in England?

Thanks for the response.

Regards

Phil.

Phil, hi

Are there many coarse fishermen in Oz? Do you fish in big or small waters? Which part of the country are you in?

Yes, crucians are under pressure in UK though there are more and more people doing their best to conserve the species and quite a few enlightened (!) people who like to fish for them.

Best wishes

Peter

Hey Peter,

There are a group of coarse fishermen here in Melbourne, where I live. Carp, roach and tench are targeted in reservoirs etc and surprised me how serious they take it with the price of equipment! I mostly fish with waders and dip net sampling our waterways, the aim is to collect and photograph all known species of freshwater fish and crustacean of Victoria. The list of species is getting smaller as I have been doing it for some years. The Crucian I caught was from the Campaspe River along with redfin, tench, a native gudgeon and pygmy perch, yabbies and shrimp. The river is drying up to small pools.

Regards

Phil.

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15th August 2013

Andrew Cottier-Cooper writes...

Hi Peter,

Please find attached photo's of a fish I've spent a number of early mornings over the last two seasons trying to catch! The lake from which I finally caught this fish is a 1.5 acre former mill pool near my home in Staffordshire, sadly it has in recent decades been heavily stocked with small mirror, common and ghost carp. There is however a small head of rather elderly looking crucians that can be caught if their cousins (or the roach and skimmer bream) aren't attracted to the area in too great a number.

I guess this population is now under threat from hybridisation, if indeed they breed in the pool at all. The majority of the club that currently hold the fishing rights on the pool appear to be mostly interested in match fishing so are unlikely to be interested in altering the stock to protect the crucians.

Andrew's old warrior crucian Andrew's old warrior crucian

Despite this unhappy thought, and despite the fish's modest proportions, I don't think I've ever been more pleased to find any particular fish on the end of my line than this old warrior.

Kind regards and tight lines,

Andrew Cottier-Cooper

I know of one other crucian pool in this area, however it is probably 20 years since I last visited and I can no longer find it! There was a report (from an elderly Farmer) of a 4lber, although I would probably take that with a grain of salt as the water was only a smallish field pond!

P.P.S. Sorry I couldn't get him to hold his dorsal up for the photo!

Thank you for the email, Andrew, and well done on the crucian against all the odds. Yes, I suspect with you that the crucian population in the lake seems doomed: if the fish are young enough to be fertile, the chances of cross-breeding must be high with a big population of carp; and the roach and skimmers would make the survival of spawn and young very doubtful anyway.

I hope you can run to earth your other crucian waters and can enjoy fishing for this lovely fish under easier conditions - they're difficult enough in normal circumstances!

Best wishes!

Peter!

JAA: And a very fine reversed quill float as well.

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22nd July 2013

Genevieve Leaper's email shows how goldfish spread, even in Scotland.

Dear Mr Rolfe,

I came across your website while looking for info on fish identification and hoping you might be able to help. We have two mystery fish that have appeared in our pond (a wildlife pond, not supposed to have any fish!) and I haven't found anyone yet who can identify them. Mainly by process of elimination I think they must be crucian carp, or perhaps more likely, goldfish. The larger one (photographed in the pond) is rather darker, about 4 inches total length, the smaller fish (photographed in the tank) is about half an inch shorter. As far as I can count they have about 31 and 27 scales along the lateral line.

goldfish goldfish

The other puzzle is how they got here; I've ruled out fish eggs on pond plants, but we do have a pair of mallards visiting occasionally - do ducks often transfer eggs? How old could these fish be? The pond was only created in September 2011. So if they are more than a year old, someone must have dumped them (unlikely as it seems as we are at the end of a farm track, half a mile from the nearest neighbour). Finally, what affect might they have on the native wildlife (amphibians, dragonflies etc.)? I don't want to get rid of them unless we really need to. Can't imagine that two fish will be a problem in a pond of 250 sq m, but are they likely to breed?

Hope you don't mind me contacting you, but would be very grateful if you can identify our fish, thank you,

Genevieve Leaper

Hillhead of Cheyne
Stonehaven
Aberdeenshire

Dear Genevieve Leaper

How interesting! I once found a baby pike in one of my garden ponds, which is still a mystery! The fish are goldfish, I'm pretty certain, with a lat line count of about 29. Crucian x goldfish are usually 31 so I suppose it's just possible that one is a hybrid. Neither is a crucian.

Colour variation is typical. Goldfish often darken along the back as they begin to change to red-gold. A light patch develops from behind the gills as the back darkens - very pretty. They don't always change to the ornamental colour, though, so you may not see this. How did they get there? Well, if they've suddenly appeared they've probably been dumped, despite the remoteness. It's amazing the trouble people will go to to find a home for unwanted pets. I suppose it is possible that they've been there for two or three summers (to guess from the size) and they've escaped notice until now - in that case they could have been introduced as fertilized eggs by wildfowl. This is the usual explanation for strange appearances of fish though I don't think this has ever been proved - scope there for an enterprising naturalist!

Will they breed? If they are the only two in the pond they could of course be the same sex. If not, two goldfish could lead to a plague, because in numbers they will degrade the pond environment. In Scotland that would seem unlikely but who can tell with a summer like this one.

Newts, toads, etc all co-exist with fish in the wild and I have a pond here in my garden where newts, toads, frogs and fish live happily side by side - if fish try to eat tadpoles, for example, they instantly spit them out. Too nasty-tasting perhaps.

It's all a question of balance. Too many fish and other life suffers. Just a few fish and all is fine. Trouble is, it's not easy to establish the sex of your fish. Generally the female is plumper and the male, much slimmer, develops little white postules on the head in the breeding season and beyond. The male harries the female in the shallows and submerged vegetation. If this has been happening, then you probably have a new generation of baby goldfish already!

If one is a true goldfish and the other a hybrid they are very unlikely to breed - but it is not impossible, though not many of the young would survive.

The pond is pretty big and it may be that there are more goldfish in there than you have yet spotted.

So it's over to you, I'm afraid. There are risks in leaving them in your pond but I can understand your reluctance to kill them. Perhaps dig another (small) pond for them or put them in a big aquarium to admire in your house. Perhaps a neighbour has an ornamental pond you can gift them to - though this is where they may have come from in the first place! Putting them in another pond/lake in the wild isn't really an option - you can see what trouble that might cause, especially if there were true crucians there already. Hybridization is the biggest threat to crucians in the UK.

I hope this all helps but please get in touch if you want to know anything else.

Best wishes

Peter

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23rd April 2013

John Spilsbury asked...

Hello Peter, I wrote a while ago on the subject of Cheshire Meres Crucians and received an interesting reply. After taking a break from angling for some 35 years or so, I restarted 3 or 4 years ago, and thought that I would never have any trouble identifying true crucians. All those I used to catch so many years ago were certainly true fish, even the ones from a pond that did hold some brown goldfish too. I am sure they had not been in there long enough to interbreed. That remains the only angling pond on which I have personally seen goldfish. It also held a few gold goldfish. I understand that goldfish have become much more widespread in angling waters since then. The crucians I used to catch, were occasionally from the Meres, because they were rare, and frequently from small ponds which seemed to be the true domain of the crucian. Maybe small ponds were unlikely to hold pike and allowed the crucians to thrive.

I have always loved the crucian though and in the past they were always of that wonderful golden colour. I fished a small pond last season in which there were crucians: obviously true crucians. Only small, but bright little jewels and I enclose a picture of one of them. Gorgeous little fish, and I could happily catch them all day if they looked like this little fellow (below).

crucian carp

I do like crucians, and upon hearing that my club had a water that was "full of them" I decided to have a go, and, facing into the teeth of a gale I landed 11 of the fish, all between 1-4 and 2-0. All the fish looked very similar in shape and colour, although one or two were not in the peak of condition, with some tail fin rot visible. I was very pleased with this early season catch, with the water at just 9 degrees, but I had a suspicion that all might not be as it seemed. They were all far browner than the crucians I was used to. And it made me wonder whether they might not be pure bred fish. Do older crucians sometimes grow darker and browner, fins less red?? Or could, as often happens, the fish have adapted their colour to suit the surroundings? I have attached a picture of one of these fish, they all looked very much like this (below). I think as well, that there could well be different "races" of fish species.

crucian carp

So I wonder if, should you have time, you might advance an opinion of the second fish. I don't remember, although it is a long time ago, the large Cheshire Meres crucians looking this colour. And it was so long ago that my photos of them are black and white.

John, good morning.

I'm pretty sure that your small fish is a crucian and the bigger one a goldfish x crucian hybrid, from general appearance and scale counts. The diagonal count on the smaller fish is short of the 7 I should like to see but it is a typical "pond" crucian with a low back and sometimes the scale count is reduced. The dorsal has the right profile. I should like to have seen the dorsal shape in the bigger fish but it would not affect my identification - I have seen hybrids with perfect "crucian" dorsals.

The hybrids could be the result of both goldfish and crucians being present in the water or thanks to a stocking of crucian lookalikes.

9 degrees is very low for crucians to feed in daylight but ok for goldfish and hybrids. They are excellent fish on many counts but do need to be kept well clear of genuine crucians for obvious reasons. Logically, goldfish are as worth conserving as crucians, since both, I believe, are C18th introduced fish, but they are not as threatened as crucians because of their ornamental popularity. Never the twain should meet, though!

Yes, crucians often do darken with size and age and habitat. I agree, too, that crucians can look subtly different depending on their breeding history, like any other fish - carp are an easy example - forming strains or races. But the basic species features remain the same - ie scale counts, fin shapes, gill-raker counts, denticulation of dorsal and anal front spines, peritoneum colour. You can do some autopsy investigations of your own if you have the inclination. Please see the book or the website for details!

Good luck with the crucian fishing and thank you for the interesting email, which I'll probably use on the website because of its help to others, if you don't mind.

Best wishes

Peter

P.S. The 'webmaster' has caught goldfish x crucian hybrids and brown goldfish just before and after dusk, in water temperatures of only 3°C making them good sport on a very cold day!

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2nd January 2013

Jon Wall asked...

Hello Peter, thought I would drop you an email, after talking to you. I read a good deal of your website and how you keep track of the fish movements at the Wetland I will never know, busy little bee you are! I also took a look at Wikipedia's inserts for crucians and they have a few interesting things on there too, I don't suppose you contributed to that also?

Anyhow it all got me thinking, do you believe in any way that when predators are present in a crucian pond and they are high backed crucians that they will gain a higher overall weight than the likes of the crucians at the Lakes, or do they become less broad and tall? Also if you introduced predators to a mature stock would these crucians develop the high back or is it only juvenile fish that will?

Jon

Hello, Jon.

Wikipedia's not too bad, though vague about hybrids. Must one day get round to improving it!

Record fish have always been high-backed and I suspect that the Lakes fish will peak at about 3.5lbs, though we did have a 4 some years back and I did have a 3lbs 10oz beauty soon after we moved the crus into the Lower Lake. Best chance would be a fish heavy with spawn, I think - so a cold spring might improve chances of a real biggie, given that there is a traditional closed season on the water so you can't fish before mid-June.

One scientific paper suggests that crucians become less high-backed with age, perhaps because they are too big to be at risk from predators in the lake/pond. The jury's out on that one, though.

I suspect that predators would have to be pretty big to have any effect on mature stock, though I doubt that anyone has done this experiment. In the Wetland the high back seems more marked in the smaller fish than in bigger ones and this possibly reflects the size of the pike. I'm planning to remove these from the pond some time this coming fortnight and should be able to get some idea from their size of how many crucians (poundage) they've eaten and guess at how many crus are left.

Tight lines

Peter

Hi Peter

So if a predator was introduced to a pond with a mature stock of crucians they would remain low backed but any of their young would grow with the high back?

Do you think with a lower stock in the Lower Lake and now weed we will see the fish achieve higher weights? From what I have caught I thought the average weight has increased but I'm surprised that with the quantity I've not seen a '3'.

Just another one as you are an expert, how much would a pond, say a 1.5 - 2 acre pond, on average cost to let/rent, I know it will differ from place to place but just a ball park figure? One day I would like a project of my own and I suspect crucians would be the priority. If I know a rough figure I could decide if it a dream I could follow.

On another note I agree Wikipedia is a bit vague but it did cover a little on the high back and predators theory hence I thought you may have had something to do with it,

Jon

Hi, Jon

I think that's right - I don't think we yet know how mature fish react to pike being put in the water when there weren't any there previously. The younger fish would certainly show a change in shape, though.

It will be very interesting to see what happens this coming season on the Lower Lake. With so many fish coming out at just under 3lbs this last year, there must be a good chance of plenty topping this weight in 2013 - but I thought that last season and it just didn't happen.

I'm not sure that the weed is relevant, except perhaps to allow more fry to survive. Weed probably allows more different sorts of invertebrates to survive and as we all know a mixed diet is good for you, but crus and other fish too seem to thrive where there is none, probably because of the huge numbers of bloodworms and other things that live happily in the bottom ooze and in the plants that grow round the edge of the lake.

I've really lost touch with rental prices but, to give you some idea, I pay £750 a year for "The Wetlands", about 1 acre of water in 6 main ponds. I really don't know if that's expensive or not. They're small ponds of course so there's no competition with carp anglers, which I suspect is where the money is.

Tight lines

Peter

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