Contributions may be sent to Peter Rolfe.
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
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.
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?
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?
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.
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
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."
Here is the photograph. I have no doubts that it is of a hybrid, almost certainly crucian x goldfish. See what you think!
14th February 2017
Lucjan Sliwa of the Polish Anglers Association wrote to me about 'karas pospolity'
14th February 2017. Article about crucians
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!
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.
Toftwood Angling Club.
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.
PS I'll put this correspondence on the website if you have no objection. It may well help others.
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.
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,
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.
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?
21st August 2016
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.
24th July 2016
Rhu Cayford contacted me last year about crucian fishing in Sweden and has been back in touch.
4th June 2015
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.
4th June 2015
I'll forward you a couple of contacts in Sweden.
If no joy, do get back to me.
PS Good luck, you lucky man!
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