Dan Woolcott 4lb Crucian

“The Method feeder is the undisputed king of crucian carp tactics but fishing slightly differently to how the most do paid off for me on a recent session. Those were the words of Drennan Cup Champion Dan woolcott after a recent session at Sutton Lake in Shropshire

He told us “I was at Sutton Lake in, a gorgeous venue that’s home to some very large but pressured crucians. It was two years ago that I had my first session on the venue, and over that period, lessons learned have shaped my approach. We all know that when we load a Method feeder, we should tuck the hookbait into the ball of feed. But on a recent trip, I was receiving piles of line bites but not catching anything. I knew fish were out there picking up my hookbait and getting away without being hooked, so something had to change.

Like tench, crucians feed in an almost stationary position, gently wafting their fins to hold over the bait. If there’s any slack in your hooklink, they’ll easily blow your bait in and out without ever feeling the resistance of the feeder. I realised that, when you tuck your hookbait into the ball of feed, you inevitably end up with a bit of slack in the line. Whilst this is fine for more aggressively feeding species, for the crucians, I needed to cut it out. So, I broke one of the first rules of Method feeder fishing and left my hookbait hanging out. As I was using 5lb Acolyte fluorocarbon, I knew it’d kick away from the feeder and lie tight a few inches from my pile of feed. Any fish that picked it up would feel the weight of the feeder quicky, and therefore hook itself.

It’s safe to say, the tactic worked a treat, and over a few days fishing I landed a few good ‘twos’, a 3lb 11oz fish as well as a PB of 4lb exactly. One other thing I did that’s slightly different from the norm in crucian fishing was to use a real grain of corn on the hook. Plastic baits are incredibly popular for the species and do of course work. But for me, it’s always a compromise using them, and I only do so if small fish are a problem. A real bait is always better, and if I can use one, I will. The Scopex corn from Dynamite Baits is brilliant too – super bright and full of flavour.

This is fished with Green Lip Mussel groundbait, and I’ll also feed some hemp, worm castings, and a few grains of corn. On this water, I’ve found that the fish live right under the nearside marginal bushes, so rather than casting, I use a baiting pole to put my hookbait into spots it’d be impossible to reach otherwise. I don’t use a fancy one though – instead I use a Milo pole my parents bought me in the 90s with a baiting spoon glued to the end and some foam either side to keep it floating. It does the job!

My approach is generally to spend a few hours in a swim before moving on, dropping a bait into the next one. Location is important as always, and I’ve found that crucians absolutely love a new wind, especially if it’s from the south. If I see one’s coming, I’ll set my alarm for 3am and be on it for first light. You can almost bet your house on a few crucians following it in!”

Well done Dan!