Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Catch a Crucian 2017

Catch a Crucian Month is back with a photo competition to celebrate three great years of progress in restoring the prospects for crucians in England

For the second year running the Angling Trust and the National Crucian Conservation Project (NCCP) have teamed up with the Association of Crucian Anglers who came up with the idea of designating June as 'Catch a Crucian Month'. They have organised a photo competition with some great prizes to be judged by a panel of leading crucian crusaders including Chris Yates, Hugh Miles from Passion for Angling, the author and crucian expert Peter Rolfe, angling artist Chris Turnbull and big fish specialist Gary Newman.

The competition, which is open to all and will run throughout June, is designed to promote crucians as a species, to assist in the recognition of true crucians, to encourage more anglers to take up crucian fishing and to highlight the need to develop specific crucian waters.
Since its launch three years ago the NCCP has inspired interest from all over the country with clubs and fishery owners creating a number of new, bespoke crucian fisheries. They were often helped by the Environment Agency's fish farm at Calverton who increased their production of true crucians to support these stocking initiatives. Crucian production at Calverton between 2013 and 2016 saw a staggering total of 152,046 DNA tested crucians stocked into 195 separate waters.
New crucian waters include: Little Melton Lakes in Norfolk; Rocklands Mere and Mill Lodge Farm Fishery, both also in Norfolk; Yaddlesthorpe Ponds at Scunthorpe; Grace Lake at Biggleswade; the Moat at Marsworth; the Kinver Freeliners water; Warwick’s Water in Newbury; Holtwood Ponds at Christchurch and Edmonsham Ponds at Wimborne.
Martin Salter, National Campaigns Coordinator for the Angling Trust said: “There is no doubt that in less than three years we have achieved a significant turn around in the fortunes of crucians and some of their threatened habitat. Clubs and fishery owners are in regular contact seeking advice on how to create their own bespoke crucian waters managed in accordance with the very best practice from our resident crucian expert Peter Rolfe.

The guys at the EA have been fantastic with their advice and practical support, which has seen over 150,000 true crucians stocked across the country. A species that was in decline as a result of loss of habitat and hybridisation now has a far more secure future thanks in no small part to the endeavours of everyone involved in the National Crucian Conservation Project."
On the announcement of a second Catch a Crucian Month and photo competition in June of this year Martin Salter said: "This delightful event went down really well last year and it’s great that Bait-Tech and Angling Direct are happy to continue their generous sponsorship. We are making some changes to the categories to offer a new prize for the best short, homemade video capturing the charm of crucian fishing."
How to enter
Entries are free of charge and will be online via the special competition website. Simply follow the instructions on the website to register then go catch your crucian anytime in June and get snapping and filming.
Most competitions in fishing revolve around catching the biggest or the most fish but this initiative from Britain's crucian enthusiasts to promote their favourite species is to be judged more on the quality of the photography rather than the size of the captures.
Entrants will even find some top tips for taking a great fishing photo, which award winning film maker Hugh Miles has kindly produced for the event.
There will be four categories for entries with the best three photos in each going into a final:
Best Crucian Picture
Best Short Crucian video
Best Scenic Picture of a Crucian Water
Best Picture of a Junior with a Crucian
Thanks to some generous sponsorship from Bait-Tech and Angling Direct each of the four main winners gets a £100 Angling Direct tackle voucher, plus a special Bait-Tech bait bucket containing £35 worth of crucian groundbaits, pellets and additives.
Our judges will choose three finalists in each category and all 12 finalists will receive the Bait-Tech bait package and a signed certificate. All appropriate entries will be displayed on the competition website and we are hoping for a great selection for the judges to choose from.
Angling artist and competition judge Chris Turnbull said: "What a tragedy that our crucians, one of angling’s most iconic traditional species, have been neglected for so long and allowed to disappear from our fisheries. Thankfully the National Crucian Conservation Project has come together in the nick of time to promote the crucian and hopefully put it back where it belongs - cherished at the heart of angling!"
Oliver Harper, Angling Direct’s Marketing Manager said: "Angling Direct are proud to be associated with the National Crucian Conservation Project and to support this great competition again. We are 100% behind the aims of the project to restore the crucian carp and its habitat."
Hayley Goldsmith, Managing Director of Bait-Tech said: " Bait-Tech are very happy to be supporting this competition for a second year and to be playing our part in promoting a better future for crucians – a species that we know our customers enjoy catching. We are really looking forward to seeing another bunch of great photos taken during this year’s Catch a Crucian Month.”

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Association of Crucian Anglers Marsh Farm fish-in June 2016

The ACA held there annual fish in at the wonderful March Farm fisheries which is run by Godalming Angling Society. The fish in was well attended by ACA members and a number of stunning crucian and tench were caught during the 2 day event.

Check out the video by the ACA's Kevin Sanders.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Catch a Crucian Month

Catch a Crucian Month begins in less than two weeks! 

Try and catch a crucian carp during June and enter our crucian photo competition- there are some great prizes on offer from Angling Direct and Bait-Tech and you’ll help raise awareness of this wonderful native fish and its habitats. 

Find out more here: get involved!

Monday, 10 August 2015

ACA Fish-in - Hinderclay, Suffolk

The most recent Association of Crucian Anglers fish-in took place at Hinderclay lakes in Suffolk. The fishery is more known for it's match fishing then it's crucian fishing but is gaining a reputation for producing big catches of crucians. It's not unusual to have in excess of 20-30 in a day session with most fish being in the 1-2lb range. Plus the odd bigger 2lber. The lake we would be angling on was Spring lake. The largest on the complex. Stuart, the owner of the venue kindly reserved the whole of the deep water bank for the fish-in. There were 7 members fishing so this gave us plenty of choice. There were classic crucian swims all along the bank with Lillie’s, overhanging trees and reed lined margins.

  It did not take long for the swim choices to be made. Robert Turrell was just fishing for the day so he made the most of his time and the first crucian was swiftly landed. It did not take long for the news to filter down the lake of the first capture. There was a steady trickle of crucians coming out over the morning and into the afternoon. The crucian fishing was not as fast paced as expected but the Bream were keeping us busy in between the crucian bites! Kevin Sanders had some fun with a rather large Carp that stripped the line from his centre pin at an alarming rate! Unfortunately this did not end well and the fish found it's way to the other side of the lake and shed the hook! Not long after this though Kevin put the net under a 2lb crucian. Most of the lads had caught a few crucians by the time mid afternoon came around.


Chris Netto was not setting his stall out completely for crucians and had a ledger out for the Perch. Commercial waters like this often produce big Perch. He had been getting constant bites using prawns as hook baits but up to now only small Perch were falling to his rod. One fish coughed up a small Roach so the Perch were feeding well. As the evening was drawing ever closer there was the hope a bigger fish may come along. Alas the bigger fish stayed a mystery so maybe it would be worth a go for them come the Autumn?

By mid afternoon everyone was pretty hungry. Our hunger was postponed for a while as earlier Robert Turrell made a trip to the local shop and bought ice cream for everyone. It was much appreciated as the sun was shining all day! Good for the tan but not for the fishing! We all gathered around the bbq and tucked into the burgers and sausages (not so much the salad). We had a good feed and a good chin wag about all things fishy before getting back to our swims and settling for the night.
Evening fell and it was getting increasingly difficult to see the float. Kevin dropped a method feeder in the margin and within a few minutes had a take that turned out to be a Cucian of 1lb 8oz. A few of the guys came equipped to float fish through the night and had several crucians between them. Others elected to get some sleep and make an early start the following morning.

The 2nd day continued in the same fashion as the 1st with a steady trickle of crucians falling to float tactics. Luncheon meat and pellet paste seemed to catch well. Chris Turnbull ended up with around ten crucians to 2lb 4oz and most of the lads had 4-8 crucians each. While nowhere near as prolific as it can be we still managed to net around 40 between 7 of us. Not forgetting the ravenous bream!

Chris Turnbull decided to return the next day for a follow up day session. He went on to catch as many on a day session as he did during the whole of the fish-in! 

If you can make it to Hinderclay you may be in for one of the big catches it is getting a reputation for. It will be well worth the trip!

Kevin Sanders

Thursday, 23 July 2015

New PB - Angling Trust's Martin Salter

Angling Trust's Martin Salter took time out this week to have a session at Johnson's and he's glad he did because he broke his crucian PB of 2lb 12oz twice!

First was a cracking 2lb 13oz specimen and then this superb 3lb 2oz.

Martin also saw the great work done being done on crucian preservation by the NCCP and EA Calverton fishery where some of the first NCCP growing on crucians were stocking into the Godalming Angling Society lake.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Crucian Crusade

Not so very long ago crucians could be found in almost every pond throughout much of England. However, a lot can change in a short space of time and now their numbers are in a steep decline. Unless we take strong action to halt this, they will soon disappear from the few waters they still exist in.

While I’d always believed that crucians are indigenous to the UK, DNA testing undertaken at Hull University suggests that they have probably only been in the country for between 500 to 600 years. It is possible they were introduced as an ornamental species but in this relatively short space of time, this beautiful little fish managed to assert such a position in our affections that it has become as quintessentially English as cricket on the village green. Almost every English angler over the age of 40 or 50 will have fond memories of catching crucians from idyllic lakes and ponds in many parts of England in his or her childhood. Yet, today, most younger anglers struggle to recognise a true crucian as is evident by the number of photographs of brown goldfish posted on social media sites that have been mistakenly identified as crucians.

There are various factors leading to the demise of crucians. They are a hardy little fish that can thrive in farm ponds that present poorly oxygenated conditions that would defeat most other species. Back in the days when anglers freely moved fish from one water to another, these little ponds provided a major source of small crucians to stock into larger fishing lakes. But today most of our ponds have fallen into neglect, becoming overgrown with trees and ended up so stagnant that they cannot support fish. Others have dried up in drought weather conditions, been ploughed over or backfilled for land development.

Secondly, and something that anglers alone must take the blame for, is the relentless stocking of king carp into every drop of available water. Unfortunately for true crucians, their sexual habits may be a bit louche. They will happily interbreed with other species of carp to the extent that they crossbreed themselves out of existence. While there are a few waters where crucians and king carp populations manage to coexist, these are vastly outnumbered by the number of waters where crucians have disappeared altogether.

A third reason for their decline has been their crossbreeding with the brown goldfish Carassius auratus, the presence of which can mostly be directly attributed to dodgy fish farms passing off brown goldfish as true crucians to unsuspecting fisheries. To the untrained eye, brown goldfish and crucians can look remarkably similar. In crucian waters that are stocked with goldfish, the fate of the crucians is doomed!

If the situation is bad in England, in mainland Europe they’re really up against it due to the presence of a foreign invader called the gibel or Prussian carp Carassius gibelio. Gibel carp are a crucian’s nightmare. They look similar to crucians and will happily jump into bed with them. This liaison is proving the kiss of death to European crucians. We should be extremely grateful that, for the moment at least, we do not have gibel carp in the UK. One look at the German top 50 crucian list reveals that all but two of these fish are some form of hybrid. This underlines the importance of conserving what is left of our crucians in England, for it may well be their last European stronghold. However, not only do we need to preserve the few crucian waters we have, we also need to start creating bespoke crucian fisheries to help take the strain (and the pure strain at that, pardon the pun).

One doesn’t need to look far back in angling history to find angling writers undervaluing crucians by referring to them as being “jolly little fellows” or suchlike, as if they were some kind of comical lesser species compared to king carp. Of course specimen carp fishing was in its infancy in those days, with king carp waters still few and far between. Since then, however, specimen, pleasure and match fishing for carp has taken over angling, with stocking more and more king carp becoming angling’s answer to just about everything. In the process we have tragically overlooked the fact that biggest does not necessarily equate to being best. Fishing for crucians has a charm and magic entirely of its own, but as the saying goes, “You never miss your water until your well runs dry!”

Last but not least, crucians are extremely vulnerable to being predated upon. Ask any hard-bitten pike angler of old and they will confirm what good live baits crucians were, back in the days when there were plenty of ponds to plunder. Whatever it is that makes them so attractive to predators, it isn’t unusual to see entire stocks of them slowly disappear due to predation by pike. We often find waters where a few adult crucians reach specimen proportions, before dying out altogether. Forward thinking fisheries can get around this problem by creating a crucian nursery pond containing no other species. In these nursery ponds they can be left to breed as prolifically as only crucians can, before being cropped and transferred into the main fishery once big enough to stand a chance against predators. Incredibly, crucians can actually change their body shape over time as a defence mechanism, by growing a higher back to present a more awkward mouthful for predators to swallow. Crucians found in Scandinavia and parts of the Baltic Sea often exhibit exceptionally high backs for this reason.

On the 28th May 2014 the National Crucian Conservation Project (NCCP) was officially launched at the Angling Trust’s Coarse Fish Conference in Reading. Since then, the project has moved forward at great pace. Its objectives include the creation of a regional network of growing-on centres to increase the availability of crucians large enough to withstand predation when stocked into new waters. The creation of a ‘pure’ crucian accreditation scheme that fisheries and fish farms can apply to be part of is also envisaged. A crucian ID guide is being published, alongside fact-sheets on creating and managing crucian waters. Eventually courses and events will be run for fishery owners and managers. The angling community has responded enthusiastically, with a growing number of crucian fishery projects being started throughout the country .

To compliment the NCCP — and with social media being such an important method of networking in these digital times— the Association of Crucian Anglers (ACA) was set up as a Facebook Group. The aim of the ACA is to provide a means for anglers and fisheries to support the NCCP at a ground roots level. It is a closed group, where membership is either by invitation or has to be applied for. This protects the group from being swamped (and watered down) by serial Facebook group joiners with only a limited interest in crucians. But the door is wide open to anyone that wants to get involved. In 2014 the group held its first fish-ins at various waters in order to assess the condition of their crucian stocks, and this will continue. The group also set about putting together a directory of crucian waters. This quickly grew into a long list which at first glance gave the impression that crucians are still widespread but many of these fisheries turned out to be anything but true crucian waters, with the double threat of brown goldfish and king carp especially prevalent. Of course there may be true crucians in some of these waters but being crowded out by hybrids and goldfish they have are unlikely to thrive and breed.

More than anything else, the joint efforts of the NCCP and ACA has succeeded in identifying the huge affection many anglers have for crucians. Hopefully now we can now harness that affection and get it working on building a brighter future for the species. Who knows, eventually we might even start returning angling to a place where youngsters can once again discover the joys of catching beautiful crucians on the float in the margins, rather than their first steps in angling being spent behind matching rods and bolt-rigs without ever learning the basic skills!

Chris Turnbull ACA. NCCP