Over the past few years I have been wondering as to where I could fish for the Crucian Carp as they are not as wide spread as the other King Carp family, I have struggled to find somewhere to have a good chance of coming across one and for quiet a long while now been keeping an eye on Marsh Farm and it's resident Crucian's and also the Yateley complex but today it was Marsh Farm I was to tackle, with quite a lot of research done on the fishery I felt quietly confident in doing ok.
At just over an hour from my front door to the fishery office/shop it is extremely accessible for me and relatively cheap considering the specimen fish available, on the train up I did a heads or tails as to what lake I'd fish ( Harris or Richardson ), tails it was and followed the wind to peg 23 on Richardson lake, over the years I've done very well for Crucian's nothing of epic proportions by heading to swims where the wind has blow the surface debris which with it will go the food.
My peg was in a bay and the wind blowing down the lake into my swim everything seemed right, so I got set up and plummeted the depth so that I fished the waggler about 4 inches off the bottom as I believed the fish were probably still a little sluggish and sitting deeper than usual at this time of the year, and I would just deepen it or shallow it up depending where I'd find them, after about 10 minutes I got my first enquiry so I just sat back and waited for the bites to get more clear cut, one thing I know about Crucian Carp is that they are very shy biters and you can miss twenty takes and only hit one, trick is to get them confident, but I was to find out that I had a lot more in my swim than just Crucian's, first hittable bite and I was in to a fish, which decided to stay deep for a while but after a bit of a scrap I got it to the top, it was a Tench around the 2lb mark.
Missing almost all of it's paintbrush tail.
It was a pleasant surprise to catch so soon on a new fishery, my confidence grew as the late morning turned into the afternoon, with a selection of fish coming to the net, 2 small Perch, 2 small Common Carp and another 5 Tench, two of which I had almost at the same time, the average being a shade under 3lb.
Chunky Common the bigger of the two.
The Tench twins, proper scrappers.
My float barely stayed still all day which is something I wasn't expecting, most of the other anglers were struggling with two guys fishing to my left packed up early because they couldn't buy a bite, so I guess I was doing something different to everybody else, but also picked up some great tips for fishing the lakes for future reference, but I still hadn't had my target fish and by this time I was on 9 Tench to 3.11, so I changed the depth by 2 inches so I was fishing a little shallower and was met almost instantly with a quick bite which I connected with and I was locked into battle with a big fish and powered through the swim and on the centre-pin which was my choice of reel today I could barely control it and after about 30 seconds the hook pulled, unfortunately I didn't get to see what it was but my hunch was a decent size Carp or a big Tench.
That coincidentally was the third fish I'd lost in a space of 4 hours, I put it down to striking to early and the bait wasn't taken properly, but it's hard to sit on your hands knowing if you weren't quick enough you'd miss the chance, so I left the swim to settle for a few minutes and then recast, immediately the waggler sailed under and I was in again, the fish again stayed down but it then careered up to the surface and thus showing me it's identity, it was a Crucian !, I then eased off on the pressure as I didn't want to rush it and risk losing it, but I played it cautiously and within a minute she was mine, my first Crucian for over a decade!
Not one of the beasts that the venue is renowned for but at 1lb 13ozs it was an extremely welcome fish, I've waited years to catch one of these and it was target acquired after 5 hours of fishing and hammering through the Tench population I could rest easy and see if the tactic would bring me any more joy.
I couldn't stay until closing because I had to get back to London for training at Crystal Palace, so as the afternoon wore on the bites started to slow down and the Perch started to move with earnest grabbing my bait on the drop with every cast so, I changed the depth again so it was an inch off the bottom and after a wait of about twenty minutes my float slid away and was latched into a better Tench which turned out to be the biggest fish of the day at 5lb 2oz, a good end to an unexpected day of quality fishing.
My overall feeling about the fishery is that it looks very well run, but as a commercial fishery unfortunately the fish aren't in the best condition, which is a shame but I guess with the volume of people fishing it, that comes hand in hand with the pressure and the unfortunate handling of some of the fish by a very small minority, but the Tench do certainly fight well here, great sport and I'll be back in search of a resident beast of a Crucian Carp, they are here just got to find them!.
5lb 2oz Best Tench of the day.
Daily scorecard: 17 Tench to 5lb 2oz
2 Common Carp to 3lb
1 Crucian Carp 1lb 13oz
4 Perch to 5ozs.