The crucian carp is a lovely, enigmatic fish but, by the same token, one of Britain's most frustrating. Catch a big crucian carp and you will be amazed by its fantastic gold colouration, but catching a crucian carp of any size can be a real challenge in itself as they are the most delicate of feeders.
Crucian carp don't grow anywhere near as large as common carp and a 2lb crucian carp is a very worthy fish to have caught. The current British record stands at a very impressive 4lb 9oz 9dr, caught by Martin Bowler.
Crucian carp are short and dumpy creatures. Colouration varies greatly between venues, like all carp, but in the main crucians have a rich golden colour.
They do not have any barbules, and that's certainly a great help when determining between a true crucian carp and a 'normal' carp.
The fins are very rounded and note the dorsal fin. It too is rounded but convex, unlike all other carp which have concave (rounded inwards) dorsal fins.
Like all carp, crucians can spawn any time and even twice between the beginning of May and the end of July. All they require is warm weather and warm water and they are off!
The males follow the females until they are ready to release their eggs, then spawning occurs in a really frantic way in the weed-lined fringes of stillwaters dotted all around the country.
Due to the size of the eggs (around the size of a No8 split shot) and the water temperature, the eggs hatch really swiftly - in only 6-10 days.
Crucian carp are just like all other carp - they are very aggressive feeders. They feed on almost anything that lives in freshwater, from leeches to snail eggs, and daphnia to emerging insect life - they will take it all.
They will feed by sifting through the bottom silt as they hunt for bloodworms, right up to taking flies from the surface - nothing really escapes a hungry crucian carp.
But, once a crucian carp is caught a few times it soon learns and they can be the most frustrating of all British fish to catch. They seem to gently nudge the bait, sucking it in really very gently to test it for hooks - and for that reason the best way to catch them is to use the tiniest of floats dotted right down to a mere millimetre or two poking above the surface.
If you have too much float protruding from the surface you simply won't spot the tentative and delicate bite from these beautiful golden fish.
Look out for...
Crucian carp like drop-offs into deep water.
They can be found close to marginal reedbeds.
Lilies are like a magnet to crucian carp.