“I DON’T normally target crucians until late spring, but with strong, warm, south-westerly winds blowing in, I decided to rip up my normal plans, and have a crack at them – and I ended up catching the fish of a lifetime!
“Most of my crucian fishing is done at Sugar Mill Ponds, in Goole, East Yorkshire, not far from my home in Hull. But a few times a year I make the 500-mile round trip to a Surrey stillwater that holds some special fish. Usually, I wait for the weather to warm up, but with a brief mild spell forecast I headed down for a two-night session.
“The car park was deserted, and I dropped a chair and bag in a swim I’ve never fished before, but which looked ideal in the conditions, with a strong south-westerly blowing into the bank.
“I rigged up a pair of ultra-light feeder rods with 2oz Guru Hybrid feeders. Usually I use 1oz versions, but I upped the size due to the wind. My hookbait was fake casters or boilies, fished on a size 16 hook and surrounded by sweet Method mix groundbait on the feeder.
“I wanted to keep bait going through the swim, so I recast my feeders every 30 minutes, using the line clip for accuracy to build up areas of feed.
“My crucian PB was 3lb 3oz, caught two years ago from the same lake. I really wanted to beat that, and at 8pm the right-hand rod took off, giving a typical crucian bite of a few bleeps before going off again a few seconds later.
“Lifting gently into the fish, it headed sideways in the shallow water before I netted it in my headlight beam. At 3lb 6oz, I was delighted with a new PB, but the best was yet to come!
“I recast, but almost as soon as I set the rod down, the other one was off and a 2lb 6oz fish was quickly returned. At 1am, the right-hand rod signalled another take, and this time the scales showed 3lb 10oz – another PB.
“Come 8am, I recast and within seconds another fish hit my bait. Lifting it on to the bank, I wondered if it could be my first ‘four’. It was thick across the shoulders and, at 4lb 5oz, it was less than 8oz off the British record!
“The next bite turned out to be from a 25lb 8oz mirror carp, and 30 minutes after that I landed a 7lb 1oz tench – both of which were new PBs too! I’d managed five PBs in the space of 24 hours, plus my first 4lb crucian.
“There’s some great fishing to be had when we get mild spells at this time of the year so, if you’ve got your sights set on a specimen crucian, ‘get out at the first opportunity’ is my advice… you may just bag one earlier than you expected!”