Correspondence

Contributions may be sent to Peter Rolfe.


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June 27th 2017

Some correspondence with Hans van der Pauw on the subject of crucians in the Netherlands.

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 24 June 2017
Subject: Crucian carp

Dear Mr. Rolfe,

My name is Hans van der Pauw, from the Netherlands. I'm a historian by profession and an angler by some inner urge which, after fifty years of angling, I haven't been able to figure out to my satisfaction yet. I came upon your website through that of Hugh Miles. I have a soft spot for crucians. I've always found them the fish you find at the end of the rainbow. I haven't caught many of them, alas, and always by accident. Sometimes by weird accident. Many years ago - probably in the early 1980s -I caught a sizeable crucian on a Heddon River Runt plug. It stuck half out of its mouth like a Cuban cigar and the tail treble was very hard to remove. That was my first unusual experience with them. Another surprising occurrence was a crucian I caught in the summer of 1987. This one had very large fins, like a 'veil-tail' goldfish. My younger brother made a Polaroid photo of me holding that fish, of which I will add a scan. I've always been curious about this phenomenon. I suppose it's rare, but I can't find any information on it. So I would like to ask you if have you ever come across it. If so, I'd be grateful to hear from you.

In the Netherlands the crucian carp stocks have slowly been declining after WW-II, mostly because of the loss of appropriate habitat, if I've read my literature well. In the past three decades or so, crucians have also been gradually ousted by the Prussian carp (Carassius gibelio) in some regions, so I guess I'll have to hurry if I want to catch a few crucians by design instead of by accident. I don't know if that's the case in Britain as well; I get the idea that breeding with common carp is more of a problem there for the survival of crucian stocks.

By the way, did you know the crucian carp appeared on the Danish 50 krones banknote in the 1970's? When on holiday in Denmark in those days I was very much taken in by that - these blue notes were hard to spend. (I'll add a pic of that too.)

Regards,

-Hans van der Pauw-

Hans' 'veil-tail' goldfish The crucian on a Danish 50 krones banknote

Van: Peter Rolfe
Verzonden: zondag 25 juni 2017

Dear Hans

Thank you for your interesting email. The big-finned "crucian" was almost certainly a "brown goldfish", just possibly a crucian × goldfish hybrid. In the UK the goldfish has contributed to the crucian decline in the same way that the gibel carp has on the continent - by taking over crucian habitat and hybridising with Carassius carassius.

One of the main problems we encountered in our conservation efforts was that anglers here found it difficult to distinguish true crucians from brown goldfish and the even more lookalike crucian hybrids. Hybrids between common carp and crucians, and indeed goldfish and common carp, are a quite popular anglers' fish in commercial fisheries. In the wild they are less common and generally less of a problem than goldfish × crucian. They still confuse some, though.

Crucian conservation is now well advanced in UK, I am glad to say, and we know much more about them than we did and how to manage ponds and lakes for them. It is possible that in the years to come, the only true crucians will be in the remoter parts of Europe and in the UK. WE hope that the Channel will keep us safe from the gibel carp!

I have never heard of a crucian taking a lure, Hans. They have rather small mouths. But then I have read of bream and rudd taking lures in the Netherlands - in Stillwater Angling by Richard Walker. The fish on the Danish 50 krones banknote is very interesting, though the dorsal fin looks a bit suspicious! I have been told that in Denmark the goldfish is known as the "golden crucian" - still more confusing.

If you are really interested in the crucian, I do recommend getting hold of a copy of Crock of Gold - Seeking the Crucian Carp, the definitive book on the species. You can get it on Amazon. It is a really in-depth study of the fish. Your English is so excellent, you will have no trouble reading it.

Thank you for getting in touch and for sharing your experiences. Do you mind if I put these emails on my website, to interest other crucian enthusiasts?

Very best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 25 June 2017 16:42

Dear Peter,

I was surprised to hear your opinion on the big finned crucian. I've never heard of a brown goldfish in Dutch literature. Goldfish (Carassius auratus auratus) do seem to occur in Dutch waters. According to a serious Dutch biological book on the fresh water fish in this country, they were introduced in the Netherlands from China in the 17th century and have since been set free or had time enough to escape into Dutch waters - the latter seems quite clever to me, from a bowl. They are considered the golden variation of what we call a 'giebel' (gibel carp: Carassius auratus gibelio) and as these orange critters are highly vulnerable for predation in the wild (as some evil live-baiting pikers know), the less gold their offspring has, the better they survive. This results in mostly gibel-couloured goldfish in the wild (your brown goldfish, I assume), that are consequently almost or completely undistinguishable from the true gibel. So the book has it. I get the feeling this is all quite confusing for the biologists themselves as well. But obviously you know much more about the subject - even so, I wish you luck!

Members of the biological carp family do predate on small fish to some degree. Rudd have regularly been caught on very small spinners over here in Holland, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when ultralight spinning was more 'en vogue' over here and rudd were purposefully fished for with tiny spinners. I've tried that myself several times, in those days, but have never succeeded in catching a single rudd that way. Actually, in 50 years of angling I've caught only three members of the carp family on lures. The first one, somewhere in the early 1980's, was the fairly large crucian carp I already mentioned. It was some 30 cm, if my memory still works correctly, and it took a Heddon River Runt plug - not even a tiny size Heddon, but a floater in the regular 3 inch size (I have a picture of that very plug, that I will add). Indeed it was a miracle how the crucian had succeeded in grabbing it, as its mouth closed almost completely over the back half of the plug and it was an enormous hassle to get the treble out by sliding an artery forceps between the plug and its mouth. It took some time as well, reason why I didn't prolong the suffering any more by taking pictures. The second time it was a bream of about 40 cm which took a small (2 inch) Sölvkroken Favorit spoon and the third was a carp of about 55 to 60 cm which took a Shakespeare 'Little S' plug. When it grabbed the plug, well into its mouth, it felt like the plug hooked a submerged mattress or something. There was no hit to be felt on the rod but instead a gradual increase in tension and then the fish sailed off to port side, ahoy. A very strange experience, I remember: I couldn't make out what was going on at all, nor what was shimmering in the water when the fish came in. Like I said: only three such unusual experiences in 50 years of angling. Statistics could have been a little more generous.

As to the 'karusse' (Danish for crucian carp) on the 50 kroner bank note from the 1975-1999 period, I agree about the dorsal, it does look rather gibel-like. It was meant to depict a true crucian though. It was reproduced from a drawing by the illustrator and architect Ib Andersen (1907-1969).

I have quite some Danish angling books, but there is very little in them on the distinction between the crucian and the gible. Incidentally, the gibel is called 'dam-karusse' over there, which translates as 'pond crucian' even though my Dutch biology work says it's the crucians that favour the ponds and the gibels prefer a bit of flow in the water. Furthermore, in Denmark the goldfish is called 'guldfisk' or - indeed - 'sølvkarusse', which means silver crucian (and not golden crucian, I'm afraid - I don't know why they do this to us). 'Sølvkarusse' seems a more appropriate name for the gibel, I think, and I did see some fish called 'sølvkarusse' on Danish websites that seem to be gibels, or at least have that colour (I couldn't judge them by their dorsals on the pics).

The Danish record for karusse (crucian) is 4 kilo's. It was caught by a Henrik Nielsen on October 15, 2006 in a lake on Sjælland, Denmark's biggest island. I'll add a picture of that fish, to make up for all the confusion.

Finally I hope Brexit will also prevent Britain from gibels spreading into the country. In that way at least some good may come of it.

Very best wishes to you too,

-Hans-

PS, Since you asked, I don't mind at all if you put my e-mails on your website.

Van: Peter Rolfe
Verzonden: maandag 26 juni 2017

Hans, hi

I don't know whether you have seen this but it is evidence that you do have some good crucians still in Holland! What a beauty!

Best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 27 June 2017

Dear Peter,

Thanks for the picture of the splendid Dutch crucian. Strangely I hardly ever read anything about crucians in Dutch magazines or on Dutch angling websites. Until very recently it didn't even cross my mind that we had such beautiful yet neglected fish swimming around here. Well, somewhere, surely... Perhaps most carp anglers prefer quantity (in pounds per fish) over quality. This fallacy started here in the early 1970s, when specimen hunting was adopted from England. Back then it even caused a sharp controversy between traditional carp anglers that praised the purity and power of the wild carp over the sullen dead weight of the model potato bag carp, that was originally bred and meant for consumption, not for sport. The heated discussions on racial purity would be very politically incorrect today - I believe we came very short of having the traditional wild carp called the Arian carp.

This makes me wonder: in Britain, where traditionally people seem to have a fine nose for social stratification (with definitions like 'upper middle class' and so on), does the crucian have a higher status among anglers than the brown goldfish - or rather, is the true and pure crucian valued more than the brown goldfish or cross-breads? In a way I hope not, as these fish themselves are all quite innocent: they swim around doing their best being what they are and have very little knowledge on taxonomy. But then again, I can imagine you strive for pure crucians in your waters, as a means of conservation of the species, which I find admirable of course!

Best wishes!

-Hans-

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 27 June 2017

Hans, good morning.

Several times I've mischievously suggested that if, as I believe and the literature indicates, the goldfish and the crucian came into the UK at about the same time, then both are worthy of conservation. The response has always been a deafening silence! I have had some experience of an accidental goldfish fishery and it had quite a lot going for it: the fish were beautiful, even the ones that did not develop the red-gold colouring; they fought hard; they fed throughout the year during the day, if the conditions were at all favourable; they grew faster than crucians, I think.

But yes, my focus is on the crucian, largely because it has been more genuinely in danger of extinction here, perhaps world-wide. The crucian movement has done so much to improve the situation and I'm proud that my advice on how to manage crucian fisheries (in "Crock of Gold...") has shown individuals and clubs the way to be successful.

But I do have a sneaking sympathy with the goldfish, though of course there is no risk of its disappearing thanks to the ornamental market and its fish enthusiasts.. If I were younger, I should look out for an enclosed pond or lake that I could turn into a super goldfish water!

The hybrids, though, complicate the issue. They can be very successful and take over a water, with the ever-present possibility of back-crossing and a consequent alphabet soup of "species". Sometimes they are very attractive fish; often they are insipid in colour and appearance.

So the best compromise, I believe, is to make sure that crucians and goldfish are never in the same pond or lake because in the end both true species would be eliminated, especially since we now know that hybrids are not always sterile.

I share your reservations about carp. In some ways it is a shame that the mystique of carp fishing has disappeared. On the other hand modern carp fishing gives a lot of pleasure to very many people. We have to be alert, though, to the danger that carp - like Tesco - could take over the world!

Best wishes

Peter

From: J.L. van der Pauw
Sent: 28 June 2017
Subject: Various

Hi Peter,

I did find a picture of the crucian I caught on the plug after all - even two pictures! I know you are an expert on crucians and as you told me you had never heard of crucians caught on lures, I felt somewhat uncomfortable; I would want you to think I was telling some wild story. So I went up to the attic and searched in some old albums. Several things surprised me. One is that I did make pictures of the fish, although I was almost sure I didn't, two is that I was painfully mistaken by no less than a decade in when I caught it (not in the early 1980s but in Februari 1991), three that the fish was actually larger than my estimate of some 30 cm, as it measured 37 cm. I've added the pictures, on which the Heddon River Runt plug that took the fish is visible as well.

Heddon River Runt plug and crucian Heddon River Runt plug and crucian

Something else. Did you know crucians thrive in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? I came across them last month on the island of São Miguel, one of the Azores. The Azores are a group of islands in the middle of the Atlantic, at about the same latitude as Lisbon and New York. That's where all the depressions seem to come from, so one gets curious. São Miguel is an island of unparalleled natural beauty. Its origins are volcanic, it's mountainous and very green with lots of birds and a moderate temperature the year round.

I stayed in a couple of places on the island. One was a small cottage at the shore of one of the two crater lakes of Sete Cidades, in the west of the island. These are two lakes, one fairly deep (up to 19 meters) and blue, one more shallow and greener, because of more vegetation and algae. Both lakes are separated by a dam which has large arched openings in the middle so the water and the fish of both lakes are well connected. I've added a picture which shows the situation from a bird's perspective (that bird was me, in this case).

The lakes are stocked with fish, at least for over a century but probably much longer, I don't know. At the beginning of the dam is a small bed of flowers with an old plaque in it, consisting of glazed tiles, which tells about the lakes and the fish they contain. I've added a pic of that as well.The first fish that is mentioned on the plaque is the crucian carp.

the two crater lakes of Sete Cidades At the beginning of the dam is a small bed of flowers with an old plaque in it, consisting of glazed tiles, which tells about the lakes and the fish they contain

I haven't fished the lakes, as I had no rods with me, but I saw many carp cruising and jumping and some perch as well, as the water is very clear. I could bare the sight of the carp, but I would have loved to go after the perch with a very light spinning outfit.

I also visited lake in the eastern half of the island, at Furnas. There is a siniar plaque over there, which a failed to take a picture of, but I believe it mentioned about the same fish, and possibly also trout. The water in this lake was apparently higher than usual as the grassy areas around its borders were partly submerged and in the shallow water hundreds of carp were spawning very wildly - mostly fish of some 50 to 60 cm.

Were you aware of crucians in that remote part of Europe (São Miguel is still on the European tectonic plate, some of the more westerly Azores are on the American plate) ?

Best wishes,

-Hans-

(Webmaster JAA JAA awards Hans bonus points for the use of a Cardinal 44 reel.)

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 27 June 2017

How interesting, Hans. Yep, that's a crucian on a lure alright. The Lake(s) look superb but I bet the fishing is difficult! I wonder if any crucians still survive, with all that competition and predation - and where they came from in the first place.

You are providing me with some fascinating stuff to use if I ever do a second edition of Crock of Gold... In the meantime, the website will benefit.

Best wishes

Peter

From: vanderpauw@planet.nl
Date: 11/07/2017 19:14
Subj: Fish on the Azores

Hi Peter,

As I said, I planned to dig a little deeper into the crucian carp and the stocking of fish on the Azores. I inquired at the Direção Regional dos Recursos Florestais (the Forestry Department) on the main island of São Miguel, that also supervises the fresh water fish stocks. They gave me details on the stocking of fish on São Miguel. Carp were imported first, from Germany in 1890. This was done by José Maria Raposo de Amaral, the greatest landowner of the island and in many aspects probably the most important and powerful local man of those days. Roach followed in 1895, brought from England by William Hayes, then Consul of England. And then came the perch, in 1898, also brought from England, by José Maria Raposo de Amaral again.

According to the Direcão pike and sander are late-comers, in 1978 and 1981 respectively, which seems strange as they are mentioned on the plaques near both lakes, which certainly seem to be much older than 1981. These plaques also mention the crucian carp, but the Direcão has no (separate) information on this species; maybe the crucians were considered plain (common) carp, I don't know. Also the Direcão says sander only live in the lake at Furnas, even though the plaque at the lake at Sete Cidades clearly mentions them.

I wonder if these lakes really were complete fishless before 1890 - for many thousands of years, that is.

I enclose the correspondence for your interest.

Best wishes,

-Hans van der Pauw-

From: Peter Rolfe
Sent: 14 July 2017

Hans, apologies for delay - computer problems! I imagine that the fish from Germany included the crucians - at least that is what I would have expected since the crucian seems to be a northern European fish, not a Romancer!

Thanks for the research!

Best wishes

Peter

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May 27th 2017

A follow up letter from Andrew Cooper about complementary species for crucians

From: Andrew Cooper
Sent: 27 May 2017 19:24
Subject: Complimentary species

Hi Peter,

I have just read of your experiments with stocking other species alongside crucians and wanted pass on my own thoughts that may deserve experimentation. In my last message to you I mentioned a farm pond I had fished that held a healthy stock of crucians, that grew to a good size for such a small water. The only other fish in this water were sticklebacks. I believe that these helped to reduce the success of each spawning by consuming large quantities of eggs and fry. Adult fish were unaffected by their presence and retained the low-back shape. Ruffe (another declining species?) would possibly perform a similar function but may induce the discoid shape in younger fish due to their predatory nature?

Obviously, if the purpose is to introduce an alternative angling target, then neither is ideal, however, if it is to allow crucians to grow to a reasonable size without stunting in a smaller water...

Kind regards and best wishes for the new season, Andrew Cottier-Cooper

P.S. I have found a number of crucian waters local to me since my last message, the best of which is Kingstanding Pools (Burton Mutual AA). My biggest from this water last year was just shy of 2lbs and they are still growing.

From: Peter Rolfe
Subject: RE: Complimentary species

Thanks for that, Andrew. I did know about the possible spawn-eating by sticklebacks but it's is good to have anecdotal confirmation. I caught ruffe on the Waverney many years ago. Would they thrive in stillwater? Then they were a nuisance when we were after the bream. Now I guess they are not caught as frequently. Sadly anglers are unlikely to spring to their defence as they are doing so effectively for crucians.

I am glad you have found some decent crucian fishing. They are an addictive species!

Please keep in touch.

Best wishes

Peter

P.S. If you don't mind, I'll include this on my website Correspondence page. Someone may have similar experiences and it all helps to build up knowledge.

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May 1st 2017

A follow up from Lucjan from Poland, who wrote in February. He has written an article in his Polish fishing magazine, trying to arouse interest in the decline of the crucian there. The photo of a Dutch crucian looks splendid, but note Lucian's comment. The Gibel is spreading across Europe and is popular with anglers. What hope is there for the poor crucian?

Hi Peter!

Thanks for that contact! I am not sure if I can get any help there, but always I can try!

In Poland we have to go through the long battle for crucians. Situation is not easy, there are still wild, small ponds, lakes with true crucians, but for how long? In my opinion, without proper help from the government or EU, it will be hard to keep them 'clean'. We have to start from the beginning - make the people aware, what is going on. We have scientists connected with fishermans, they allowed to stock invasive Gibelio in many waters. I don't know, if other scientist know, that crucian carp is very rare spiecis, and it should be treated with special care.

For now, we have some plans, to find small ponds, which would grow crucians and tench, for stocking other waters. But its'not easy. Maybe it would be, if we start fundation or another 'project', but we need more time and people. If my magazine will survive next months, that would be possible :-)

The problem is, that we would need proper plans and instructions, how to start with such a 'stock' ponds, which species should be there, how to feed the fish, etc. We would be very grateful, if you could help us somehow. In Poland is very hard to stock crucians,because is hard to buy crucian fry or bigger crucians. Stock ponds are a great idea, because many clubs could stock their waters with their own fish.

Please have a look at the picture - there is a big crucian carp caught in Netherlands, by my friend, few weeks ago. He said is very hard to get crucians in that country, Gibelio took their place, it is one of the most popular spiecies there...

Also look at the article - on the page 14, Ihope you won't be disappointed.

I have plans to make some underwater videos this year, I'll join Godalming AS soon, and I hope to catch some nice crucians with my camera. It's only one place in my area, near London, with clear water and crucians. Maybe I get more attention with such a videos?

Best wishes!

Lucjan

a big crucian carp caught in Netherlands, by Lucjan's friend
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April 17th 2017

Two cracking crucians, caught by Richie Martin, one of last year's winners in the Angling Trust's "Catch a Crucian" competition. These two fish were caught at Godalming AC's Johnson's Lake a week or so ago, just before the water closed to let the crucians spawn in peace.

Hi Peter,

Hope you are well, just wanted to send a couple of pics from last week,

I genuinely was re-reading Reflections on Still water when the bobbin lifted for the 3lb 13oz pictured below!

The one with me with my mouth open (rare I hear you say haha!) was 4lb 2oz

Crazy couple of hours, of action made all the more enjoyable by sitting back with a cuppa reading your beautiful book!

Thank you Peter

Kind regards

Richie

Richie Martin's crucian double Richie Martin's crucian double
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April 5th 2017

On April 5th 2017, Martin Salter wrote to me asking me to confirm the identity of a fine fish, which he felt was a crucian, caught by Nigel Ashworth, secretary of Whitworth Valley Angling Society. The fish weighs about 4lbs and Nigel thought there were bigger ones in the lake. Perhaps an exciting new big crucian water had been discovered.

After I had seen a second photograph, my reply was as follows:

"Lovely fish, Martin, but still not a crucian I fear, despite the fine dorsal. It just isn't right, a bit like the ex-Swedish record fish which gut feeling told me wasn't a crucian, even though in that case the lateral line scale count was ok. In the end they DNA-ed it and found it was a gibel carp x crucian. There are so many hybrids and back crosses out there, it is a veritable minefield."

"Sometimes, indeed, all the counts and fin shapes are ok but something about the fish tells you that it isn't pukka. With this fish the scale count is very dubious because normally the little scale at the tail end doesn't count and this fish has two of them, which you have counted as full scales, I think. Again, this is moot!"

"Colouration is difficult to make a judgement on alone because fish do vary according to the water they come from, but this one is again not quite right: it lacks the usual richness of a crucian. The underfins don't have enough darkness towards the end enough to be a true big crucian. Again, small crucians sometimes lack this, but it is usually quite marked in the case of a big true cru."

"The crux for me is the head shape and the appearance of the scales, neither really cruciany!"

"Why not get the fish DNA-ed? It shouldn't cost too much and will establish the validity of the lake's stock one way or the other. I'd wager quite a lot of money (if I were a betting man!), though, that it is a hybrid, as Chris suggests."

"Sorry!

Best wishes

Peter"

Here is the photograph. I have no doubts that it is of a hybrid, almost certainly crucian x goldfish. See what you think!

Crucian hybrid
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14th February 2017

Lucjan Sliwa of the Polish Anglers Association wrote to me about 'karas pospolity'

14th February 2017. Article about crucians

Hello Peter!

My name is Lucjan Sliwa, I am a keen angler, member of Polish Anglers Association, Polish angling club in UK.

I love crucians, I try to do something about that slowly disappearing species in my country. In Poland crucian carp is called karas pospolity -which means common crucian. It was very common indeed... I remember when I was young few ponds full of them. Now situation is almost critical. Crucian is almost gone, his place took gibel carp. It's very sad, in Poland no one is defending them. Government body allows to stock gibel carp, which is one of the most succesful invasive spiecies! They are everywhere, from sub mountains fast rivers, almost all stillwater, rivers,to salty water of Baltic Sea. Young anglers call them crucian, they don't know the differences between those two species. Angling association dosn't see a problem, they even establish the record fish not as crucian carp and gibel carp, but just crucian. It's very sad. With every year they become harder to find, for most anglers they are rare.

I live in the UK, and together with my club we have newspaper, which will be distributed in UK and in Poland. I would love to translate one of your articles, to show to anglers how big problem we face today, how we can loose that beautiful fish. In one of articles you wrote for IFM, you are describing how to help crucians by establishing special ponds to breed them. Do you agree to have that article translated?

You know, one of the problems in Poland is how scientists are behaving. They are focusing on fishing industry, for them is important to have a 'product', they don't care about species like crucian carp, they want to achieve maximum productivity from netted waters. They don't like anglers to be honest. I wrote one article before, in one of the biggest angling magazine, about the crucians, but I am not a scientist. For them the problem does not exist. They allowed to stock gibel carp (they call it binding the biomass), which is like a death sentence for common crucian. Your article, with connection with IFM would be perfect, because it's not a thought of angler -'crucian nutter' (I mean myself), but proper article, from proper scientific magazine.

Of course as well more people can understand where the problem lies. I would love to start similar project in Poland, in the UK we also want to do something (from our club you have full support). But the first thing is to educate anglers. Not everyone knows what is going on...

I hope you say 'yes', so more thing can be done. It is too late to stop the gibel carp on the continent, but for sure many crucians ponds could be created. I fish both Marsh Farm and Milton Lake in Dorking, and a lot people like my videos from there (I got my Youtube channel), they would love to fish typical tench and crucian waters, but now carp is everywhere. Thanks to you and articles - like this one from IFM, someone could have the knowledge what to do, how to breed crucian so it can help to save the them!

I've sent e-mail to the IFM, but they didn't answer.

Article was in the issue dated October 2014. FM_article_O

Peter, I love your work, I really appreciate what you do!

Thanks

Lucjan Sliwa

14th February 2017. RE: Article about crucians

Of course, Lucjan, please do use my article in any way you wish. You have contacted IFM and shame on them for not replying. The copyright rests with me and I give you full permission to translate or use it as you choose. Please acknowledge my authorship, that is all.

I imagine you have read "Crock of Gold." and have seen my website: www.crucians.org . If anything there can help just let me know.

I wish you success in your fight to conserve the crucian. The cause is going well in the UK, thanks to the involvement of enthusiastic people like Chris Turnbull, Martin Salter, the Environment Agency and the Angling Trust, but the crucian was in danger of extinction here too until we all got together. So do not despair - and good luck.

Best wishes

Peter

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16th November 2016

John Manley contacted me about a neglected pond near Dereham.

Hello Peter,

I have recently taken over a neglected pond from Dereham Town Council, and have secured a 50 year licence to control the fishing rights and look after the welfare of this beautiful pond that I have fished since 1978. It has always held a few Crucians,Tench, and Roach, and in February this year, I founded Toftwood Community Angling Club, in a bid to encourage the youngsters in the local community to make better use of a facility that is now right on their doorstep because it is now surrounded by a huge housing estate, with a majority of the houses being homes to young families with children, who have little to do in the area.

I am trying to improve the fishing, the wildlife, and fauna in and around the pond. One major problem that faces me is the amount of silt and debris in the pond. At the East end of the pond (which is 90 yards long and 35 yards wide) there is a huge collection of silt which is 5 foot deep in some areas.

The deepest part of the pond was 11 feet deep when I first started fishing it, but now has 3 feet of sweet compost smelling silt on the bottom. My question is, what is the best way to remove the silt??? We have dragged the pond extensively and removed the bikes, shopping trolleys, fence posts, trees and hundreds of branches, not to mention some burgled jewellery that we handed over to the local police!!!!

Since clearing the pond, we have managed to create an extra 8 fishing platforms, which means we now have 10 places to fish from, and our 2 "Free Family Fishing days" that I organised in conjunction with the Angling Trust (the club are now members) has encouraged membership of the new club to blossom to 55 members, half of which are youngsters, with half of those being under 10!!!

So the future is bright, but funding is hard to come by, even though I am now into my second funding bid.

I would love to have your views on how we can make this little gem of a water even better, but especially how you see the stocking of Crucians, and the silt removal, within our programme of improvement.

Regards,

John Manley,
Founder Member,
Toftwood Angling Club.

20th November

Good morning, John.

How impressive. I do wish you well with such a brilliant project.

From what you write, you will have some difficulties, but they shouldn't badly effect what you're aiming to do.

First, the silt. Our usual response to a badly silted pond is of course to drain out all the water and dredge out the mud. But this is not always practicable - the cost is high, you have to have somewhere to put all the silt, and it is temporarily very destructive of the pond ecology. So you may have to live with the fact that there is a lot of silt there. If you have about 8' of water remaining in the deepest areas that is ok - what about the shallowest parts of the pond? How deep? What proportion of the pond is shallow, how much of acceptable depth?

Costs of dredging would be considerable. You'd probably need two excavators and tractors and trailers or dumpers. At about £35 per hour per machine, you can see how it mounts up. And that is assuming that you have somewhere close to dump the stuff, which it doesn't sound as if you have.

Another possible way forward is to try applications of micro-chalk (Siltex). I have had some experience of this, with rather inconclusive results. I am about to use it again on five small ponds I manage, so I obviously believe that it will help in my case.

It depends upon the kind of silt! If it is non-organic stuff (sand, etc) brought into the pond by a stream then chalking won't have very much effect - it only works on organic silt, the result of decayed weed, leaves, fish and bird faeces. I suggest you Google Siltex and Micro Chalk for more info. If it does no more that slow down rates of silt deposition then it may be worth consideration long term and there's just a chance that it may help more than that.

Costs for (say) an acre of water would be about £250 including VAT and delivery for 1 tonne. Add £500 if you wanted it spread for you but you possibly have use of a boat with an outboard motor and some labour - two or three good blokes would do it. I'm doing my ponds in early December to try to avoid too much resulting weed growth next summer, which could be an issue.

Secondly, the fish. Your problem with crucians is the proximity of people!

Sooner or later someone will dump unwanted goldfish in the pond and you will have certain hybridisation with crucians and lots of hybrids. Probably your chance of crucians breeding successfully, even with just roach to compete with, is not great so you will need to top up with crucians every year or two to give fishermen a reasonable chance of catching the true species. But that shouldn't deter you. It's not an ideal situation but you'll still get decent fishing. Tench and roach should be fine. If you have roach already I wouldn't add rudd - same problems with hybrids. Perch are fun for youngsters but can multiply quickly - they'll mop up crucian fry too: not a problem if you're restocking with crus regularly. Just make sure the crus you put in are too big for the perch you have to eat.

You'll be under pressure to add carp, which you don't mention. That's up to you, of course. Just be aware, as I'm sure you are already, that they can take over a pond. If you can net it regularly and sell the surplus, that needn't be a serious problem. They will interbreed with the crucians but not necessarily problematically. The same applies as to the goldfish/crucian mix: in a mixed fishery, largely for youngsters, it may be acceptable as long as you can top up with crus if they are a main species. I would not, myself, allow carp to dominate the lake. Carp waters are two a penny and don't encourage the variety of fishing methods that mixed species do - so no-one learns to use a float or a centre-pin!

I hope that all helps, John. Please don't hesitate to get in touch again. If you like, phone me - I'm in most evenings.

And the very best of luck with the enterprise.

Best wishes

Peter

PS I'll put this correspondence on the website if you have no objection. It may well help others.

20th November

Hi Peter, thanks a lot for your great reply, all of which I have taken on board. I feel the addition of Siltex to be the one to go for long term. I will have a thorough read of it and budget for that next year maybe. I would like to get Crucians and Tench stocks improved, and there are 2 suppliers on Norfolk advertising them in the 6-8" range, so may try to get 50 of each to start with. The shallower parts of the pond are only 3 feet at one end, under 3 protected Oak trees, but that end is not silted up. It's the deepest middle section, and the west facing end that is most heavily silted and it seems to be mainly leaves, and twigs and branches that have rotted down. It actually smells like damp compost, but is fairly black, but the silt itself is incredibly fine, almost green in colour, but doesn't smell of much at all. There is no pond weed to speak of in the pond apart from some water Lilly's and a large bullrush bed. We have planted some water Iris and sedge this Autumn.

Please feel free to publish what you wish. I am happy for you to use any part of my email, and our club name, if you want.

To my knowledge there is only 1 10lb carp in the pond but a few goldfish from compassionate owners is inevitable, and I know there are a few fantail Crucians in there, but they are all fish for the youngsters to catch, and they always make a surprised but happy comment when they are caught, so I'm happy with the situation.

Regards,

John.

21st November

Good luck with all of that, John.

Your fantails are either brown goldfish or goldfish x crucian crosses. But you can still add proper crucians to provide fishing for your favourite species - just don't expect them to breed true, if at all.

The Angling Trust has a fishery improvement grant scheme and I'm sure you would qualify very well for some financial help from them. Again, I suggest you Google AT, become a member - which I'd strongly recommend anyway, and find out how to apply. Come back to me if you have problems. Their Fish Legal scheme is worth considering too, to give you some recompense should pollution occur. Also, The EA have crucian stocks available free of charge for suitable waters, though the fish are small. They might frown at the presence of goldfish but if you explain the situation to them they could perhaps play ball.

Yes, I agree - chalking the pond may well help, though you'll probably need to do it more than once to have much effect. You may find that adding Siltex or Micro Chalk will result in much more weed next summer.

If your bulrushes are in fact reedmace, with the brown furry top, they can be dragged out easily enough if you want to control the size of the bed - though it does give shelter for birds. Regular cutting with a scythe will work too, with the emphasis on "regular". If it is true bulrush, with round, dark-green stems, cutting is probably the best solution if you want to reduce it. Or is it Norfolk reed? - this does need regular control if it not to take over the shallower parts of the pond. I can identify from photos if you're not sure what it is.

Iris and sedge are excellent, the ideal marginal plants.

I hope all that helps.

Best wishes - and more power to your elbow,

Peter

21st November

Hi Peter, Thanks for the added info.

The club have joined the Angling Trust, so we are members, and I will be applying for a Fishery improvement grant, I am in regular contact with the AT Regional officer, James Lewis, so I think I will email him and ask for an application form. I am expecting our membership to grow next year, so we will be increasing our subscriptions anyway, so I will give it a go. Thanks for the flag up on the EA and Crucians, I would like to think that the original stock of Crucians in this pond were "true" Crucians, I believe it was originally an old "Marle pit" as there are still huge lumps of flint lying on the bottom imbedded in the clay.

I must try to look at the history of the pond from the original landowners, who were Dutch.

Take care and thanks again,

John.

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17th October 2016

Stephen Marfleet contacted me about crucian carp in Home Park at Hampton Court.

Dear Mr Rolfe,

I read recently (in the newsletter of the Friends of Bushy & Home Parks) that crucian carp are to be introduced in to the Dew Pond in Home Park which is in front of Hampton Court Palace in SW London.

Knowing nothing about crucian carp (not being an angler) I was delighted to find your comprehensive website!

Thank you for going to the trouble of creating it. It will help my wife and I to get to know more about the crucian carp as we wend our merrie way through Home Park in the coming years.

It's a relatively small pond. There are usually cormorants in the Park during the winter months.But I imagine there are other places in the two parks where crucian carp already thrive/survive, so we hope the cormorants will not get too fat and happy.

Thanks again.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Marfleet

17th October 2016

RE: Crucian Carp in Home Park

Thank you for the good news, Mr Marfleet. The crucian cause has really taken off over the last two years. As you know, it was in danger of becoming just a memory in the UK but now we find ourselves in the position of beginning to think of the country as an ark site - the outlook for the crucian in Europe is bleak because of the spread of the gibel carp, closely related to crucians and with a great appetite for hybridisation.

Thank you for taking the trouble to tell me about the planned introduction. If I can help with confirmation of identity of the brood stock through photographs I would with pleasure do so - but hopefully those in charge of the stocking know what they are doing!

Best wishes

Peter Rolfe

PS Cormorants are bad news indeed, though!

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21st August 2016

John Johnstone contacted me a historical crucian record.

Hello Peter,

I was wondering if you could help me with a query regarding the Crucian Carp record?

In the 1970's I broke and subsequently held the Crucian Carp record. The fish weighed 4lbs 15ozs 8grams.

When I caught the fish I wasn't sure what the Crucian Carp record was but I knew the one I caught was a magnificent fish and I thought it stood a chance of breaking the record. Incidentally, I caught the fish at a complex of lakes in Kent called Johnsons, a day ticket water.

Anyway, I wrapped the fish up in wet towels, emptied my tackle box and hot footed it over to the Anglers' Den, Gillingham, Kent. The fish was fine on arrival and the Anglers' Den staff kindly put it in a bath of water. They then called for a few anglers, who were well known at the time and I'm sure you would know them as you and I are about the same age, to come and witness it. They witnessed it and weighed it in the Anglers' Den. They confirmed that in their opinion it was a Crucian Carp and the weight was accurate. Lovely. Then I asked what happens next to get the record and they said that I had to kill the fish and send it to London (University) so it could be verified as a true Crucian. Well, on hearing that I thought that as nice as it would be to hold a British record I was firmly against killing the fish because it was magnificent so they informed me that if I didn't kill it I wouldn't be awarded the record. So I said "OK, I know I've beaten it, I'm putting the fish back".

One of the experts said to me that it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to take the fish to a friend of his at the newspaper in Chatham who would take photographs from all different angles, which I did. Anyway, we submitted the claim as a matter of interest, photographs etc. and sent it off. On doing that I thought that was end of story. I couldn't get the record because I wasn't prepared to kill the fish. Anyway, I can't precisely tell you how long after all this but I was going to work one day and I bought the Angling Times, opened it up and there was a page of new British records and they had the new records and the existing records at the time and God Almighty there was my name. They had awarded me the record even 'though their policy at the time was that the fish had to be killed. So, that pleased me Peter because I thought I'd put the block on the fish having to be killed to get a record.

As you probably know, Peter, the current record now stands at 4lbs 9ozs and 8drams. Please, Peter, could you explain to me or help me to understand how I've caught a fish of 4lbs 15ozs and the current record is 4lbs 9ozs miles adrift of my record.

Hope you get the gist?

Regards,

John Johnstone

21st August 2016

John

In 1997 the existing crucian record list was scrapped because people at last realised that many of the entries were either brown goldfish or hybrids and I'm sure that in that list some of the fish, like yours, could well have been genuine.

Do you have any of those photos, John? I could perhaps tell from them whether your was a true cru. We know a lot more now about identifying the fish than people did then.

Best wishes

Peter

P.S. John has been in touch to say he is in discussion with the BRFC and has requested some of the photos if they still have them. I am keeping my fingers crossed!

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24th July 2016

Rhu Cayford contacted me last year about crucian fishing in Sweden and has been back in touch.

4th June 2015

Hi Pete,

As a Crucian enthusiast and a lover of the species I am always wanting to learn about this magnificent fish! I started fishing nearly 30 years ago and the lake I fished in Bishops Stortford (Malcolm barker memorial lake) was full of them! After catching my first I was hooked!

Since then I have fished many places and managed to get them up to 3lb 8oz. What I would love to do is catch a massive Crucian and I've heard there are some Giants in Sweden. As my brother lives there I feel this is the obvious choice. I just thought you might know who to contact. Any help would be appreciated.

Rhu Cayford

4th June 2015

Rhu, hi

I'll forward you a couple of contacts in Sweden.

If no joy, do get back to me.

Best wishes

Peter

PS Good luck, you lucky man!

24th July 2016

Hello Peter.

I don't know if you remember but about 18 months ago about information on fishing for crucians in Sweden and you gave me a few emails to try.

Following on from there my friend Keith and I decided to 'have a go' at fishing lake Ursjon in Sweden for 4 days and recently came back!

We caught 9 crucians to 3lb 12. They were truly beautiful fish and the surroundings were too. We saw snakes, lizards, beavers and didn't hear one road in the back ground! Needless to say we are returning next year! I would have to say this must be the premier place in the world for crucians! For beauty of the area and fish and having to fish for them the 'proper way' with light tackle small floats and small baits.

Also what was interesting was that water was only 2ft deep and below that 4ft of silt before you hit hard bottom which suggests that is why there are only crucians and a few perch and pike survive as when it freezes in winter I would think they bury themselves in silt so they truly are the most hardy of coarse species. (As well as the most beautiful).

A wonderful experience and without your help it would never have happened!

Thanks Peter,

Rhu.

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22nd April 2016

Dave Felce wrote with something interesting from Spain.

Hi there Peter!

Hope you don't mind me contacting you, but I thought you might be interested in this beauty (?) I caught on the fly last week, from an embalse (reservoir) in Extremadura, Spain.

Looking through your site I'd say it's most likely a crucian x goldfish (lateral line count 31). It was certainly a thumper; I didn't weigh it but would estimate it at over 4lbs but under 5. I was targeting carp at the time using a "bellycrawl" nymph pattern and it gave me a pretty good work-out on the #6 weight!

All the best

Dave Felce (Corsican dave)

P.S. lovely site, btw. I've added it to my favourites

Spanish hybrid
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