Crucians and skimmers compete for the punch at Hitcham Ponds before the carp moved in.

August 4, 2023 at 4:07 pm

Heavy showers and a list of jobs at home have kept me away from fishing for a couple of weeks, but with enough fishing points earned and a weather forecast free of rain, saw me setting up my pole for an afternoon’s fishing for crucian carp at a tree lined farm pond on the border of South Bucks.

Most anglers fish this club pond for the resident carp, but my target is always the “silver fish”, especially the hard fighting crucian carp, although the days of double figure nets of these golden fish have declined since the introduction of free biting skimmer bream.

Strawberry flavouring has been my top additive to my groundbait mix for the bread punch. Based on 50% liquidised bread, with ground carp pellets and ground hemp, I added enough water to form stiff balls that pass straight to the bottom in an effort to avoid the tiny surface feeding roach and rudd.

Within minutes of putting in a few nugget sized balls of feed seven metres out, bubbles were breaking on the surface. I had set up a float rig with the bulk shot just off bottom and a size 14 barbless hook buried in an 8 mm pellet of bread. First cast the float sailed away and I cursed the likely tiny roach, but no, the elastic came out as the hook made contact with a decent rudd.

Back in the float settled, then bobbed. A few more bobs, then the float slowly moved off. I lifted and the elastic was out again with a fish fighting deep, a flash of gold confirming a crucian carp.

This was a good start. A lift of the bulk shot lay the float flat and I struck into a fish that the broke the surface. It was a small skimmer bream, that was soon in the landing net.

What next? Another decent rudd that grabbed the pellet of bread as it drifted down.

A quality roach followed, which I assumed was another crucian as it fought deep, before coming to the net.

I’d been fishing for only 30 minutes, feeding a nugget of feed after every fish and the area in front of me was fizzing with bubbles. The fish had come up in the water and I shallowed my depth stringing out the bulked shot resulting in more positive bites. Skimmer bream were coming steadily.

The occasional crucian was also beating the skimmers to the punch as my keepnet began to fill.

I now lifted into something big. It remained deep, slowly shaking it’s head, swimming to my right toward a lily bed. I attached another two lengths of pole to give me more control, without overstressing the hook, being able to steer this unseen lump as it speeded up toward the island. I was convinced that I had hooked a big bream, which tend to glide around using their weight and depth of body to fight. It came in close and I prepared to net the Thing, removing the bottom two joints again. Whether this jogged the fish into action, I don’t know, but it now shot off to the left toward the base of a tree and all I could do was hang on, while the elastic stretched out. I could see the fish. It was a white koi carp with bright orange markings. The barbless hook came out. Most of my fish had been lightly hooked, this was another one. It was time for a cup of tea and a Wagon Wheel chocolate covered biscuit.

It was back to the skimmers, some of them a respectable size. A surprise tench found it’s way through the skimmers. Not big, but a welcome sight. I don’t remember catching tench from here before.

The next lift of the pole saw the elastic stay down. Another carp! I quickly slipped on the extra two lengths as the carp beelined to the island. The elastic stopped it and the carp turned, running to the right toward the lily bed. It was not a big carp, long and thin and I was able to wear it down, until it began rolling on the surface. Shipping the pole back, I broke down to the top three as the carp appeared on the surface ready for the net. It weighed just over 3 lb 8 oz.

In the shade, my camera washed out the deep bronze of the carp and took another in the light. After this shot, I returned the carp to avoid damaging the silvers in my keepnet.

Controlling a carp on the pole at seven metres is hard work. After a cup of tea and a sandwich, I was ready again. I needed to be. I was in first cast, the elastic stretching out. With the two extra lengths of pole back on, this new fish was easier to handle, it was smaller and was soon sliding into the landing net. The colour washed out of the image again. It weighed in at 3 lb.

The next shot was better. I will have to check out the exposure settings.

It was getting close to going home time. Having had to pass two towns and a motorway to get here, the rush hour traffic crush would be worse on the way back. I scraped up the last of my feed and put it in.

This crucian was last of eight caught this afternoon, although skimmer bream were still eager to seize the punch. When you are catching, it is always difficult to stop fishing, but my mind was made up by another carp, that zoomed off, streaking out the elastic and snapping the 4 lb hook link like cotton.

The 8 mm punch stopped most of the very small fish from taking the bread and accounted for for six different species in the net. There was over 8 lb here, plus the carp; 15 lb, not bad for four hours work.