For the coarse fisherman who knows where to look, gravel pits offer a wide variety of species. And with the right tackle, bait and angling style, some rich quarry can be caught.
Most species of coarse fish, including bream, roach, rudd, perch, pike, carp, tench and eel inhabit gravel pits. Chub, barbel, and also dace, more commonly river fish, may also be found. But all these species will not be found together and so, before going fishing, it is advisable to find out which fish are present so that suitable tackle can be chosen.
Study the waters
Gravel pits vary considerably in size, shape, depth and character, and to get the best from fishing them concentrate on just one or two of a group at a time. Study the waters, especially the effects of changing conditions on the feeding habits of the fish and the locations of the most populated swims.
A gravel pit rarely has a uniform depth. Instead, the bottom slopes drastically, creating shallows of a few feet and sudden deep holes of 20-30ft, perhaps more. This apparent unpredictability can daunt the angler on his first visit, but observation, a little planning and the right technique can produce good results first time.
The prime gravel pit species, bream, roach, carp and tench (but not rudd), are mid-water or bottom feeders. During the summer and early autumn they tend to feed by night in the shallows and by day in deeper water. Therefore, where possible, fish an area containing shallows and medium depths, with deep water close by. If weedbeds are present, so much the better.
A successful method is to ledger with a simple open-ended swimfeeder rig. Use this with a sturdy but sensitive 10ft rod, a fixed-spool reel, and a line strength to match water conditions and the size of the prey. A 3lb b.s. Line is suitable for sizeable roach and rudd, 3 or 4lb b.s. For average tench and bream, and 6-8lb for shoal carp. Set up the end tackle so that there is an 18in trail between hook and swimfeeder. The latter is held running-ledger style by a plastic-plug stop. Attach an eyed hook securely to the main line. Use front and rear rod-rests and adjust the outfit so that the rod points slightly downwards to the water. A small blob of groundbait hanging on the line between reel and butt will serve as a bite indicator. The bale-arm should be closed for roach, rudd, tench and bream, and open for the strong-pulling carp.