This winter has been one of the coldest for a while, so I was gagging for that spring warmth! Although this winter was a productive one fish-wise, I was glad to see the back of it. I'm not a big fan of the cold or the amount of darkness that comes with the winter. It wasn't long and the trotting and perch gear was stored away and I began to think of "bars of gold" the magnificent crucian. I only had a couple of sessions lined up for the crucians this spring, due to family commitments but my first session came at the start of March. Early I know, but there was a lovely warm weather front and I couldn't ignore the conditions as I fancied getting out for my first night since October the year before!

I had a couple of days booked off, so I headed to the venue. I didn't expect it to be busy, and it wasn't. People probably weren't as nuts as me at that time of year. I knew where to head to as the previous spring the crucians seemed to hold up in a particular area. I wheeled my gear around to the area and was shocked to see another crucian angler there already. After a quick chat we found out we had a number of mutual friends and got on rather well. I decided to plot up in the swim next door and found that in front of me had some depth and the bottom was nice and clear, so there was no real need to flick a lead about. I set up my two feeder rods with in-line Method feeders with short hooklinks and small buoyant caster hookbaits with both rods fished at 25 yards range. I then mixed up my trusty Spomb mix, which consisted of various groundbaits, Dynamite Coconut and White Chocolate F1 Mix and some Betaine Green groundbait, I then added some Red Krill Pellet, hemp and dead maggots. I didn't want to overdo the swim with heavy baiting as once you've put it in you can't take it back out. I like to build my swim up according to how the fish are feeding, so I introduced four small Spombs over the area. With the rods out and bait over the rods I set up base camp.

Once everything was set I had my first brew of the session and a good old natter with the angler next door. It didn't take long for one of my rods to jump into action, a tench was responsible for disrupting the social though. I was happy with it though, as it was a good sign that the fish were moving about and feeding. With the tench returned my rod was cast back out over the baited spot. The day was slow and the odd tench made an appearance, though sadly no crucians fell to my rods, but the lad next door managed to land a 3lb+ crucian! Good signs of things to come (hopefully). I decided to put some bait out prior to it getting dark and as darkness fell, all that was left to do was chat and drink tea. I received a bite on my left rod, a rather scatty take, I lifted into the fish and my rod bent double... a carp! With light rods and tackle it was good fun playing the beast which really put my tackle to the test. But after a spirited fight and my arm falling a sleep the carp was in the net. A lovely old Dink strain fish known as "Barry" we laughed about the name of the lump, took some shots and returned him to his home. By now it was getting on and the other angler had left for the evening. I sat in silence watching the water when I noticed a few fish rolling in close so dropped a rod a bit shorter. By now it was really getting on and the temperature had dropped, so I got into my bag and began to drift off. The left rod let out a series of bleeps and I looked out to see the bobin pulled up tight to the blank. I ran out and lifted into the fish, at first thinking it could be a roach or rudd but after a few seconds it started to feel a lot heavier and gave a better account of itself. I knew it was a crucian by this point by the standard fight under the rod tip, though I hadn't seen the size, so I applied caution to the fight. It wasn't long until it was in the net. I was buzzing! It's always good to catch your target species on your first trip of the year to the venue. The needle spun around to 3lb 8oz! What a cracker! A friend took some lovely night shots and the cru was returned. I decided to drop both rods in short now, but sadly no other bites came through the night.

At first light I applied more bait to the longer area and got both rods onto the spot. Again, it didn't take long and one of my rods was away, funnily enough it was another hard fighting carp. Another spirited fight on the light gear, but eventually the carp gave up and ended up in the folds of my net. It was another lovely mirror and I was made up. The day dragged again with just the odd tench breaking the day up. Sadly no more crucians came my way on that trip but I knew they were on the move and feeding so I was buzzing to get back down. Sadly my partner fell ill, so my fishing understandably took a back seat. Over the next few weeks the fishing for crucians really picked up. As did the mild weather. I really was chomping at the bit to get back down. Fortunately my other half slowly got better and I got the green light to get back out.

My next session was after working eight days solid, two of which were spent working at The Big One Fishing Show (great fun) and I was gagging to get out! At first I had planned to arrive early Tuesday morning but I was too eager, so I arrived at 11pm on the Monday night. I dropped in an area I'd had big hits from in the past and knew the crucians were about in the area, so I was very hopeful. After having a chat with a couple of gents fishing the same bank I slowly set up and got the rods out. Again, using the same methods I always fish (in-line Methods with short hooklinks and small hookbaits) I didn't put any bait out over the rods as I didn't want to make too much of a disturbance. With the rods out and my brolly and bed all set-up I got my head down. Just as I was drifting off my left rod absolutely churned off! Oh god, another carp! This one felt huge and it battered me all about the margins and flat rodded me several times in the process. I really didn't expect to land it to be honest. But luck was on my side and the carp finally graced my net. She was big! I left her in the net whilst I sorted everything out and the needle spun around to just under 31lb, I couldn't believe it! An epic capture on the crucian gear. It took me a fair old while to get to sleep as I was buzzing and when I looked at my watch it was already 3am and I had my alarm set for 5am to get the rods sorted prior to any morning feeding fish. It only seemed like five minutes asleep, before my alarm awoke me, but up I got up and made a tea. With the morning light I mixed up my trusty Spomb mix and put out four Spombs full at 25-30 yards range. I then clipped up both rods and fished them at the same range too. The other lads had told me that bites had been few and far between, so I wasn't counting my chickens. But I still remained confident knowing what had been caught off this bank the previous week or so. I was drinking tea and talking to other anglers when my left rod leapt into life. I picked up the rod and reeled into a dead weight, a classic crucian sign. I guided the fish to the margin where it had started to dog about on the bottom, making me a little nervous. My heart was in my mouth as I knew it could actually be a bloody big one too, and that it was! My nerves nearly got the better of me, but I landed the magnificent specimen! A new personal best and my fourth 4lb-er from the venue. I was over the moon! Thankfully we got some cracking shots too before the specimen was returned to its home. Only tench made an appearance the rest of the day, making it a long day, as the bites were quite spread out. Before dusk I put out a few spombs, topping up the area for the night ahead. Thankfully it was a quiet night with just a few roach waking me up now and again. Just like the day before i'd set my alarm for 5am and again I topped the swim up with a few spombs of my trusty mix, in hope of some more dawn feeding crucians. Unlike the previous day it was more overcast and slightly cooler. Far better conditions in my opinion. I wasn't wrong either, as it wasn't long before one of my rods let out a series of bleeps and again I was into another big crucian. This one really put up a scrap and as soon as I had it in the net, the other rod was away! Another crucian, though this one looked a little smaller than the previous. The first crucian went over the magic 4lb mark and equaled my PB which I set the day before and the other crucian went 3lb 10oz. I was over the moon with the result! So much so, that I decided to pack up and head home early. In total over there i've done 7 sessions, for 25 crucians which wasn't bad going at all. Especially with 5 over 4lb, 16 over 3lb and 4 over 2lb. What a fantastic tally and one I am over the moon about. With my spring crucian target smashed, my sights are now set on the tench.