Having read Peter Rolfe’s wonderful book on crucian carp, called Crock of Gold, I perhaps understand even more why they are my favourite among stillwater fish.
Given that they seem to exist in many estate lakes, farm ponds and even the little pools often found on commons, surely they must be an ancient English species.
Nothing could be further from the truth! It is highly likely that carp pre-dated them in the UK by centuries! It’s one of the reasons why they are concentrated in the south of England - nothing to do with climate, as they are common in Scandinavia where it’s a good deal colder than here.
Anyone who has ever fished for them will know they are enigmatic, often disappearing for months, even seasons, before returning as if they had never been away.
What I didn’t realise is that they could be taken as the ‘shapeshifters’ of myth and folklore because their body shape responds to circumstance.
If they are stocked into a water with predators, perch or pike, the book explains that their shape changes to make predation more difficult, not over generations but in a matter of weeks!
It is for that very reason I was surprised to read that the Record Fish Committee’s ‘expert’ had turned his nose up at Dave Harpin’s fish from Gold Valley, weighed in at 4lb 12oz. As a match angler Dave has little idea of how to take a good picture of a big fish, and the one shown in Angling Times certainly wasn’t the best. Body shape is a very poor indicator of authenticity and there are several pictures of true crucians in Crock of Gold with tails as forked as the one caught by Dave.
The fish is ‘known’ at Gold Valley. I actually weighed it in for Alan Harrington at (if memory serves) 4lb 1oz a few years ago.
I have absolutely no doubt it is 100 per cent crucian. In fact, I’d go so far as to say if it isn’t, neither are any of those in Godalming’s Marsh Farm, because they are identical.
Or perhaps the man who has dedicated so much of his life and work to my favourite fish has got it wrong? What do you think?