Monday 29 May 2017


There’s something undeniably beautiful about crucians, not just the way they look but the places they choose to live, even the tentative way they bite.

perfect crucian country - one of Peter Rolfe's delightful Saxon Ponds

waiting for a tiny nudge

These golden creatures provide anglers with so many rewards that it’s heartening to see all the efforts being made to save them. Many clubs are even creating new fisheries to ensure our grandchildren can enjoy crucian fishing too.

crucian catching always makes for happy anglers
a perfect crucian swim

June 1st marks the start of ‘Crucian Fishing Month’ and the Angling Trust have once again organised a crucian photography contest to raise awareness of their beauty and their plight. I’m honoured to be a judge once again and there are prizes for the winners, so enjoy some thoughtful snapping. 

Here's where to enter :

keeping up the traditions of angling

I guess when judging last years contest I was looking for photographs that captured the essence of the qualities that make crucians special and there were certainly some excellent entries … but as my school report kept saying, “must try harder”.

telling the story of a puma in the Andes Mountains

I’m no stills photographer but I did try harder and that earned me the privilege of making more than sixty wildlife films all around the world. I guess the principles of a good picture are the same whether moving or still so for what it’s worth, I’ll list a few tips that I’ve found useful.

If you are entering the ‘film category’ – new this year – then just make sure you tell a story. Try to shoot it in a way that gives your audience a sense of actually ‘being there’, sharing the excitement with the angler. That often means getting off the tripod and with a wide angle lens, moving right in amongst the action. 

elastic stretcher

You’ll also need ‘cut-aways’ such as angler reactions, the bite, splashes of fish, bent rod and spinning reel, all shot so you are telling the audience what is happening in a dynamic way. This attention to detail really does make for engaging viewing.

a dignified surrender

Remember continuity too. Decide before you even start fishing where the angler is in relation to the lake. If he or she is on the left and the water on the right then stick with it so as not to confuse your audience. In the business we call this ‘crossing the line’.

Making the decision where 'the line' is can be crucial, whether in stills or film for it dictates where the light is coming from and that is vital for good photography. Back-light [sun shining towards the camera] can be wonderfully evocative, graphic too, which makes for more dramatic images and you can always use fill in flash if the sunshine is too severe.

my attempt to do justice to a splendid creature - no, not Chris
Pay lots of attention to the background. Always avoid clutter such as ugly buildings, parked vehicles, telegraph poles and even bits of tackle. In fact, anything that spoils the illusion of being deep in the countryside and when it comes to fish portraits, all the above is vital.

Try to angle the light on the crucian so those beautiful golden scales are etched and glow. Try also to use the lake as a background so the fishes home becomes a part of the photo. Water provides a lovely soft background for the fish too. I suggested this last year but I don’t think you were paying attention!

glistening gold and big too
If you have a fancy camera you could even crank up the shutter speed so the resultant wide aperture makes for an out of focus background. This is always good as it draws more attention to the fish … and don’t forget to check round the edges of the frame so that you can leave out any irrelevant details.

happy days with friends and a first crucian for Annabelle
Do enjoy photographing your golden gems and do try harder this time so as to enhance the crucians’ reputation as one of our most beautiful fish … but above all else, never forget that fish live in water, so be quick.

This is the link to the Angling Trust's details about the Photo Contest and how to enter :

Peter Rolfe's book, 'Crock of Gold' is essential reading for all crucian enthusiasts.

full of anticipation when dusk falls on June 15th