Crucian Carp (Carassius carassius)
In the UK, crucian carp usually weigh between 6 ounces and 1 lb 8 ounces (160-810 g) and grow between 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) in length.
LC – Least Concern
A Note On Spawning
Crucian carp usually reach sexual maturity after 2-5 years, with the males reaching maturity a year before females on average. They spawn once water temperatures are consistently above 18°C and usually after rainfall.
The females release hundreds of thousands of spherical yellow-orange eggs over vegetation. These eggs are about 1.5mm in diameter and stick to submerged vegetation where the males then fertilise them. Fry emerge around 4 days later.
The crucian carp has a similar overall shape and appearance to the other carp species, but with some significant differences. Firstly, it doesn’t grow anywhere near as large as other carp species, a crucian specimen weighing 2 lbs or over would be considered a great catch. The crucian also lacks barbules, has a much flatter body, the lateral line is more prominent and the dorsal fin is pronounced with a convex shape.
Young fish have golden-bronze flanks, which darken as they age. Mature crucians typically have dark green backs and deep bronze flanks which lighten as it approaches the underbelly, although this can vary depending on the water they are found in. The dorsal and tail fins are dark, whilst the pectoral, pelvic and anal fins are all orange-red in colour.
A true crucian lacks barbules, but cross-breeding with common, leather and mirror carp is common and can produce a hybrid crucian, which has a single barbule on one side of its mouth.
So how do we catch one?
The crucian carp is primarily a bottom feeder, it forages in the thick mud and silt on the bottom, feeding on plant life. Occasionally it will rise to the surface to take water beetles or insect larvae.
When the fish are surface feeding, utilising freelining techniques, such as the use of floating bread crusts can be effective. Otherwise, a static based positioned on the bottom using either float or ledger techniques will work well. Bread baits, worms, maggots, luncheon meat, dog or cat foods are recommended baits.
Crucians feed mainly feed during the summer months and feed most prolifically in early mornings and late evenings.
The crucian carp is far less common than its other carp relatives, in the UK it is non-existent in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and is only found in England. It is almost exclusively a still water fish, with a preference for heavily overgrown, swampy ponds and small lakes. Some slow-flowing rivers and canals can hold small populations too.
The crucian carp is an extremely hardy fish and is said to be able to survive for hours out of water (don’t try this out though). It has a high tolerance for low oxygen levels, allowing it to survive in water that is very stagnant and can withstand high levels of pollution. It is also able to endure very cold conditions and in frozen water can massively reduce its metabolism and stop feeding, for many months. It can also survive through droughts, as it buries itself in the mud, emerging many weeks later once rainfall has rejuvenated the water body.
An ideal spot and time to catch crucian carp
Crucian carp are found in shoals, usually swimming with fish of the same age and size. These shoals can be very large, but are often shy and are easily scared off by disturbances on the bank, they are also shy biters.
When out after crucian carp, fish the areas where their natural food sources would normally be. This is typically the shallower regions of the pond or lake; areas with reeds, submerged weed beds and lilies make great spots. Float fishing is considered the most effective method for catching crucian carp, go for either running line or pole, and light tackle fished on the bottom or around surface plants. Self-cocking floats, quills that require no shot to hold their position and small pole floats are ideal depending on the type of water you are fishing. Crucian carp are very wily and shotting patterns need to be able to display very delicate bites.