Ryan Hayden managed this impressive 4lb 1oz crucian on his first session targeting the species with fellow big-fish specialist Jamie Cartwright.
After waiting for the ideal moment to go and fish for them, a week of warmer weather, and most importantly, warmer nights came. With my chosen venue being very shallow I knew the water temperatures would rise and hopefully spur a few of the resident crucians into feeding.
Due to the lake being quite busy with carp anglers, we arrived at the venue first thing and surprisingly there were a couple of free swims in a corner with the warm wind pushing straight into it. Without any hesitation, I headed back for my gear, not quite believing these swims were free!
To start with I cast out a lead, not really to gauge the depth as I already had an idea, but to make sure the bottom was not covered in debris. With other anglers around me fishing at 30-35 yards, I opted to fish slightly shorter at around 25 yards in the hope that any fish moving closer in would come across my baited area first.
To start off I introduced three Spombs of pure groundbait, mixed with a lot of additives. This would hopefully draw some fish into the area, but not actually feed them too much. The only feed being that in the feeder.
The majority of anglers on the venue targeting the crucians and tench use In-line Flat Method Feeders, which are very effective, but with the amount of small fish present I felt it was perhaps not the best option as the feeder could be attacked from all angles, possibly leaving an empty feeder. I still opted to fish with a ‘bolt-rig’ setup but with a slightly different feeder, a Drennan Pellet Feeder to be exact. This would allow me to have only one access point for the fish to get at the feed. I hoped this would slow down the smaller fish and also meant that when a crucian did come along, it should have a much greater chance of picking up the hook bait.
Within the feeder, I used a mixture of micro pellet and crushed halibut pellets, which were dampened down with water mixed with additives. These held in the feeder really well with a light squeeze of the thumb and allowed me to bury the rest of the hooklink within the feeder, which in turn shortened the already short 3in hooklink.
For my hook bait, I opted for something that would stand out and catch the attention of any crucians. For this, I used a single grain of the smallest ESP buoyant corn, which sank very slowly and was almost weightless combined with a size 16 Wide Gape Specialist hook and 6lb Sinkbraid.
The session began very slow, with the odd tench rolling and carp crashing at distance. Then, all of a sudden, Jamie’s rod was away seconds after having cast out. A small tench was the culprit. No sooner had it slid over the net, my rod was also away, screaming off taking line off the baitrunner!
My first thoughts were that it was another tench, but as it come closer and closer it just became a heavy weight. When it popped up just out from the rod tip I could see it was a huge crucian and the biggest I had ever seen before! A quick scoop with the net and it was mine!
I stood there staring down into the net saying to Jamie that it looked huge. I had only ever seen crucians up to around 2lb before, so was unsure just quite how big it was. By the look on Jamie’s face as he lifted the fish out of the net and onto the mat I knew it was a big fish. “That’s definitely a three”, he muttered. As he lifted the scales I could not believe it when he said the words, “Four pound, one ounce!”
I would have never imagined my first bite on a new venue would have been not only from my target species but one of the very fish I hoped to catch one day! A fish of a lifetime, and to share it with a good friend made it all the more special. Your turn next time, Jamie!