Business as usual on the gravel pit (bream article and video, entry 297)

Business as usual on the gravel pit

I was really looking forward to getting back on the gravel pit, and with the day being mild enough to wear shorts, the prospect of fishing without having to wear cumbersome clothing appealed to me. Arriving at the peg it was a beautiful day but the weather turned even in the time it took for me to set up. So I started in shorts but by the time everything had been sorted, I was in my winter suit. Not only did the wind pick up, but it came from the east and was blowing directly into my fishing spot. The water temperature was 9.6 – 9.7C though, which was an increase on the previous week’s session and so on that front alone I was confident and hopeful.



The importance of a marker float

Knowing the depths in front of you is important wherever you are fishing, but on a gravel pit it becomes even more of an issue. Most pits are large venues of open water and many anglers feel intimidated by the prospect of fishing them. And if the thinking is ‘cast it and chance it’ then it really does become a gamble. But that’s where we need to plan our angling and start to think not about the surface of the gravel pit but rather the bottom.

One thing you can say about the bed of a pit is that it will be anything but uniform. If you’re used to fishing estate lakes for example, then a gravel pit really is a different ball game altogether. Due to the extraction process that created the venue in the first place, it will usually abound with features such as bars, gullies, plateaus and drop-offs. And this is where the marker float come in, as these fish-attracting spots cannot be discerned with the naked eye from the bank.

And not only does the dragging of a float through the swim enable the angler to draw up a map of water depth, it also helps us to know what the bottom consists of. By the way the heavy lead reacts as we draw it towards us, we know whether we are going to fish to silt, gravel or weed. All of these things gives us the edge when tackling the vast expense of a gravel pit.




Cast out and waiting for a fish

Brown crumb, maggots and corn

I had fished the swim before so knew what lay before me. But I still put the marker float in place as it makes for accurate baiting. When you’re catapulting balls of bait 40 metres into vast open water you need something to guide you. So I set the float to the right of the swim and proceeded to propel 14 balls to two spots in front of me. I did all this on arrival before then getting the rods ready, the shelter up etc.

The groundbait I put out consisted of brown crumb as the carrier and sweetcorn and live and dead maggots. The live maggots bury into the gravel and give the fish a reason to stay around as they root about. I find that the tench and bream in this swim are typical ‘patrol’ fish as opposed to residents. You lay your trap in anticipation of the fish moving in. And then they depart. And depart they will, but the aim is to get them to stay as long as possible.

This is where – within reason of course – issues of overfeeding aren’t as acute on this swim as on other venues. You know the fish will come in and you know they will feed. And big tench and a shoal of big bream can be ravenous when they get going.


Ravenous but elusive





Tip of the week

If you’re not familiar with a marker float, then get acquainted. It’s amazing how many anglers fish a venue over a number of years and don’t fully know the exact depths etc of the place.

If it’s possible and relevant, then spend time before fishing marking out a plan of the lake on a sheet of paper.

You will then be fishing intelligently instead of casting blind.


But as well as being ravenous, they can also be elusive and for the second week on the trot, my campaign resulted in just one fish. Last week it was a tench, this time round a bream. I had a single bleep on one of the rods just into dark but I had to wait until the early hours of the morning before I caught a fish.

I had topped up my initial baiting by several more balls before dusk and so there was enough feed out there to get the fish to hang around. Whilst sometimes one bream can trigger several other quick captures, on this occasion it did not work out that way and I slept the rest of the night. The second day I switched to popped-up maggots on one rod to tempt the fish but I didn’t even get pestered by small ones.



Just the one fish, but a nice bream

A cold second night

The second night was freezing cold. I shouldn’t complain too much though because I did choose to go through it in shorts, as I always feel uncomfortable in the sleeping bag in the winter suit. Not to mention the smell after I caught the bream. If you think small bream slime is disgusting, let me tell you that the bigger fish aren’t any sweeter. I was also plagued by rats as is the norm at this venue. They even dragged my towel from under my bedchair down to the run where they tried to pull it through. Fortunately I had a spare as no way would I even consider using that one again.If it wasn’t for the fact that I enjoy the gravel pit so much I wouldn’t go there ever at night because of the vermin. But at the end of the day it will take more than a rat to put me off my fishing…. So one bream and a plague of rats – business as usual on the gravel pit!




Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

The weather has suddenly taken a turn for the worst. On the news they were talking about a return to December and January weather. So it may be that I do a week perch fishing on the canal and give the gravel pit a miss for a week. It’s been hard anyway and a freefall in the weather won’t improve things at all. Either way, I’ll be out and back next week with another update.

(Originally posted March 2009)

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