Abshot pond is a water close to my heart, it, along with Hilsea Moat, was among the first venues I fished for coarse fish, learning as I went using whatever tackle I could get my hands on, which at the time was minimal. Abshot went through some difficulties, namely topmouth gudgeon, so in the summer of 2012 it was drained, de-silted and restocked with more mild mannered angling in mind, I’ll explain.
It’s no secret that, since the arrival of king carp, true crucians are getting harder and harder to find, and where there are old fish present, the stockings of kings into their homes can only mean that the longevity of the pure breed is under threat. Therefore, what is needed is a shake up, less fisheries being hell bent on introducing fast growing carp into their ponds, and to think about the humble crucian. Act now and save this delicate little fish from what could end up being extinction of the pure breed.
Thankfully, there are folk out there who do care enough to do something, to take action before it’s too late. I’m pleased to say I’m involved with both, Portsmouth and District Angling Society (PDAS) and the Association of Crucian Anglers (ACA). PDAS decided that as Abshot was basically a ‘start again’ water after the draining, why not introduce those fish most of us started off catching, fish like rudd, tench, perch and the humble, but gorgeous crucian.
Recently I have become involved in the ACA, I got wind through Facebook that they were making moves to secure crucian fishing for future generations, to compile lists of waters that contain crucians, to work towards a register of where they are, carry out surveys of whether they are true crucians, and whether there is a likelihood that they can breed with anything else, i.e. king carp, brown goldfish etc…
It was decided that Abshot would undergo such a survey, and I was delighted I was going to be present when this was carried out. Basically the idea was to have a fish-in attended by PDAS club officials and members of the ACA where photos of crucians could be taken for verification, as well as a survey of other species in the pool. The date was set for Thursday 7th August, and I couldn’t wait.
I arrived at the lay-by just after 7:30am and met Chris Netto soon after, he’d travelled down from Heathrow. After the customary introductions we toured the pool, I pointed out some of the venue’s various features and filled him in on some of the history of the place. Chris took no time in commandeering peg 3 as his spot for the day, a nice section of lilies just off to the right some 5 or so yards out and a lovely patch of reeds and an overhanging tree to his left.
As we got back to the cars and began unloading, the other ACA member, Paul Thompson, arrived and after another brief tour Paul opted for the much fancied peg 5. In no time at all we were in our respective swims looking forward to a day’s angling for our beloved bars of gold. I plumped for peg 4, in between Chris and Paul so I could play host when needed and be on standby with the camera.
Tackle for the day was very simple, an 11 ft split cane light auctioned rod, a small centrepin reel and a body down handmade float. As Abshot is alive with rudd of all sizes, I do try to get the hook-bait down to the bottom as quickly as possible; therefore I secure my float in place with two rubber Drennan float stops. That way I can put all the shot down near the business end. A size 14 fine wire hook is always my choice which is tied to 2lb 12oz line. I’ve just picked up some of the new Preston plummets; they have a lovely antique bronze effect, which fits perfectly with the kit I use.
So with everything set up I got down to thinking about what bait to use. I always use sweetcorn, it’s such a versatile bait, always works and can be shaped and manipulated however you see fit. Especially with crucians, I find that cutting a grain of corn in half; even quarters can make those impossible bites hittable.
Luncheon meat is also a firm favourite, but can be a little soft, especially in hot weather and comes off the hook easily, so I left it at home for this trip. The other thing I brought with me was a selection of small pellets, enough to keep the fish interested but not fill them up too much, that’s the key with crucian fishing.
So, with everyone set up we began fishing. Rudd were the first fish to be brought to shore, and lots of them. It took a while for the first crucian to be landed, perhaps it was due to the intense summer heat, but there was such a feeling of relief when that first small crucian hit my palm, after all, without them the day would have been just another day’s fishing. It was only a few ounces, but in perfect condition. Chris and Paul had a look and commented on how lovely it was, and that it certainly looked like the real thing. I took a few quick snaps and let it go.
Bubbles continued to rise, and for the first hour or so things were difficult for all three of us. I did manage to land a decent tench of around 4lbs, it put up one hell of a scrap in the tight swim I was in and on the light tackle I was using. Although not the target species, you couldn’t be disappointed with such a lovely fish, so as it was so well behaved on the mat, it seemed a shame not to take its picture.
I continued to feed to swim little and often and the bubbles continued to rise all around the float, yet the bites were almost impossible to hit. I began chopping the corn down, using small pieces rather than whole kernels, and finally a few crucians started coming my way. Paul also started landing one or two which was nice, none of them were big, but beautiful fish up to around 8oz were certainly making a bright day even brighter. There were even a few very cute miniature tench coming to see what the fuss was.
Up until lunch I think Paul had about 10 crucians, I had a few more than that and Chris was yet to get off the mark. His swim wasn’t as active as ours, with less bubbling and less time between bites. At lunchtime I visited the car, fetched the tea making kit and in Chris’ peg we enjoyed a chat, a pot of tea and a packet of biscuits. It was nice to take a break from the fishing, to rest the swim and to offer Chris a few pointers.
As it happened, Mick the bailiff came along to see how we were doing and mentioned luncheon meat to Chris, he’d forgotten all about it, dug it out from his bag, put a piece on his hook and immediately caught his first crucian of the day, followed quickly by number two. Thanks Mick.
After tea I wander the banks around my swim with the camera in hand and took a few nice shots. There was a kingfisher present on the day but we only saw it a couple of times. There were plenty of butterflies in and around the brambles and nettles and a common darter (dragonfly) perched on my redundant rod tip posing wonderfully for the camera.
The crucians started to come thick and fast for me, every third cast I was bringing another one to the net. Paul also continued catching and Chris, although a tad slower, was still catching his fair share and both were enjoying their days immensely. Paul shouted that he’d hooked something a little more substantial, and I rushed over in time to see his net a cracking tench of about 3lbs.
It was whilst chatting with him that I spotted these little Sonubaits 4mm hooker pellets, so I asked if I could rob and handful and took a few of these oily little baits back to my pitch. I attached one to my size 14 hook, which looked a bit out of place if I’m honest, but the results were amazing. A crucian a chuck for a good couple of hours, I lost count how many crucians I clocked up, plus rudd, a couple of roach and another super tench. It was fishing at its absolute best, and we were clocking up a great array of photos to aid with the verification of the crucians in the pool.
As the day wore on and evening began it got cooler, the sun disappeared below the tree line behind us, our swims were plunged into shade and it felt a whole lot more comfortable. Paul left at around 7pm with 21 crucians under his belt, a few tench and lots of rudd. He enjoyed the day and we enjoyed his company.
At 8:30 Chris and I decided to call it a day, it was getting late, Chris had a long drive and we’d had our share of fish. Chris ended on 10, caught a baby tench and also had lots of really nice rudd, and I clocked up at least 50 crucians as well as roach, tench and rudd. It was an awesome day on an awesome water, the guys were very impressed, were happy that the fish are in no danger of cross breeding with anything else and that the fish appeared to them to be 100% true. All that remains is to submit the report and photos and to have the rest of the team cast their eye across what we are sure is a venue that has such an exciting prospect.
The future is bright, in a couple of years there is nothing stopping Abshot producing 2lb crucians, big rudd and maybe some monster perch with the amount of small rudd they have to feed on. I call it nice fishing, anglers with floats as opposed to bite alarms, peace and quiet, maybe somewhere to take young ones. Perhaps it’ll be the place I take my Jessica for her first fishing trip.