Saturday, 18 May 2013

In Search of Gold....

As I was due to fish last Friday but spent the whole day in bed with a sickness bug, I opted to move my work leave to this Friday, originally planning to fish for tench at the moat, then halfway through the week changing my mind in favour of Oaks Melt for perch, at the last minute changing things completely in favour of my first ever visit to Marsh Farm in search of the wonderful crucians they have on offer and the search for my first ever 2lb fish. I love crucian carp, they are right up there with perch and rudd for me when it comes to looks.

I did a little homework a couple of days leading up to the trip, read a few online articles, picked the brains of a few who have fished there and I was given the impression that if you hit it right, a red letter day could well be on the cards. The venue is said to be the home of the next crucian carp record, and with an accolade like that comes anglers, lots of them, but as I was fishing a work day I hoped the crowds wouldn't be too heavy. Also, rumour was that the shy little fish had began feeding strongest through the night when there were less anglers present. It was shaping up to be a challenge, but a day off work fishing beats a day doing anything else.

I arrived at 730am, just when the shop opens, and what a shop it was. An extensive tackle shop selling everything you could imagine, every type of bait and also refreshments and snacks. The toilet block on-site was as clean as the one in my house, the lakes looked amazing and a big thumbs up must go to the owners. Inside the shop I showed the guy my net, he checks to make sure they are dry, then paid for my day ticket. I chose to purchase the two rod ticket, the reasoning behind this was in case I wanted to put the 500 out with a ground-bait feeder out towards the island later in the day in case things were slow.

The lake I was to fish was the aptly named 'Harris Lake', which had islands running through the centre to give it a 'canal' feel. After walking around twice looking for an area of deepish margin close in I decided to spend the day in peg 46. I had no island in front of me to fish to but reeds to the left and a depth of around 4feet just beyond the shelf. I set up my Wizard, teamed it with my new Aerial loaded with 4lbs line and attached a small pole float as nothing in my traditional float tube was sensitive enough. This particular float sat pretty with just 5 number 10 shot, an edge I was sure in the quest for my timid quarry. A hook-link of 2lb 12oz and a size 14 hook finished the set up.

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I mixed up two kilos of ground-bait but apart from a little hemp left it pretty much unloaded due to not wanting to fill the fish up, rather to keep them grazing with just a few free offerings thrown in every so often. Hook-baits were sweetcorn, luncheon meat and some little hooker pellets. I started off my introducing three tangerine sized balls of ground-bait into the area I had plumbed, the drop where the depth dropped from 3 to just over 4feet. I began fishing somewhere around 9am and was greeted from time to time by various anglers who all had something nice to say about the tackle I was using, which was lovely.

The first time the float went under, after about half an hour, resulted in a hook pull soon after making contact, and the next bite resulted in what was obviously a rather strong tench charging through the reed and breaking me. Not the best start, but once I was tackled up and fishing again the bites, although slow, produced three tench of around the 1.5lb mark and my first crucian of 1lb 6oz.

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Bites were still very slow coming but by lunchtime I'd had three crucians, the other two going just over a pound, and two more tench. I baited the swim a little, ate my lunch and thought about what I could change in order to get more bites, or at least see the ones I was getting but couldn't hit. Whilst thinking back to my match fishing days and asking myself what I would have done differently back then, I spotted the tench were splashing around in the margins opposite me, a good sign as if they are spawning they'd probably leave me alone. Don't get me wrong, I love tench, but with such light tackle and those reeds next to me....well you understand I'm sure.

So, lunch was consumed and a new game plan was hatched. One more number 11 shot was added just a few inches from the hook, I remembered this was what we did when confronted with finicky fish, I'm not sure of the mechanics surrounding this extra drop shot, I just knew it made a difference most times. The second trick was to use pieces of sweetcorn, I mean cut a single grain into quarters and use a small piece, in the past it could be the difference between the fish taking confidently enough for you to see and hit the bites, or not.

With my belly full and a new confidence I began fishing, this time with just 1mm of the float tip showing. It didn't take long for the first bite to come, a gentle dip on that tiny float tip, the result of which was a creaking Wizard and another crucian jag jagging as they do before sliding gracefully towards the net. Fish number four was 1lb 8oz, they were getting bigger.

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The changes I made to my fishing were ever so effective, I wasn't waiting very long at all for a bite, and even though I was still missing a few, the fish were coming thick and fast. A couple more small tench showed too but then came the fish I came for, the target I had set myself, a crucian carp of over 2lbs......1oz over actually. This was shaping up to be one of those days I would never forget.

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I got to 13 crucians, averaging 1.5lbs and a handful of tench and then suddenly everything went quiet, as if the shoal had moved on. The float stopped bobbing, the bubbles stopped rising and for the next hour I wondered where they'd gone. I thought about setting up that other rod and throwing a feeder out into the middle, but the purist in me decided against it opting to persevere with the float in the margins. The float did eventually slide away again, but there was no way of stopping what was attached to the hook which ended with me and yet another hook-link parting company deep within the reeds.

Another hook and a switch to luncheon meat saw one more crucian come to the net, a bonny fish I thought might make 2lb again but which weighed 1lb 12oz, still a fabulous fish, fish I could never tire of catching, whatever their size. It was close to 5pm when I decided to start packing my things away and think about heading home, I would have loved to have stayed until the 8pm closing time, but I had things to tend to back home so really had to get going. 14 crucians and some tench, I'll class that as a red letter day for sure, and I can't wait to return and have another crack at them.

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  1. What can I say SK, that is exactly what I went for and will be going back for again, a 2lb + Crucian, some great fish there, excluding Roach they are greatest looking species we have.

    Well done on that bag of fish.


  2. Hi James

    Indeed sir, it was a fabulous day out and I can't wait to get back.

    All the best

  3. What a great result Stu, and I have to say, that reel looks good enough to eat!