Stillwater Fishing

stillwater fishing

Taking time to choose a good swim on stillwater is even more important than it is on rivers. That is because there is no flow to carry bait to fish and draw them into your peg. Instead, you must locate them.

It always pays to spend a few minutes looking at a venue after you arrive for a pleasure fishing session to asses a number of important factors before you choose where to fish. The first thing to take into account is the wind direction. If there is a fairly strong wind, it will have blown items of food across the surface of the water, into on corner, attracting fish with it. Fishing into the wind may be uncomfortable, but it can often be very productive.

Natural Features

The next thing to look for is a natural feature, such as an island, a reed bed, or an area of lilies. Many commercial fisheries are completely flat and featureless below the water, with no sunken trees, snags or big drop-offs in depth. That is good for the angler. Fish are attracted to any features that will provide cover and safety, and on these venues the anglers can see all of them. If there is one over-riding rule, it is to fish as close to these features as you possibly can. You should look for a peg from which you can cast close to an island – within 2-3 ft (60-90cm) – or where you can drop your bait neat to beds of reeds or lilies.

Biggest Mistakes Commonly Made

The biggest mistake that many anglers make on these commercial fisheries is to cast straight out in front of them into open water. Often the very best place to dish is about 2ft (60cm) from the bank, right next to the reeds that are virtually under your feet. If the water is colored, as it often is on these venues, fish will be there even if the water is only 2ft (60cm) deep.

Gravel Pits

Gravel Pits

Gravel pit complexes present a completely different challenge. Gravel pits are like the surface on the moon under the water, with huge craters where the gravel has been dug out, large ledges where the diggers have moved around and large, shallow bars where the waste materials were dumped.

Pattern for Construction

There is no particular pattern to their construction, and each pit will be different. A venue might plunge to a depth of 30ft (9m) only 20ft (6m) out, but in the middle it might be only 4ft (1.2m) deep. This is a situation which requires you to spend time mapping out the pit to locate the features that will attract fish. But it is worth it, as gravel pits hold some huge specimen fish and many British records are achieved in such waters.

The first step to map out a gravel pit is a technique called ‘leading’, which is essentially, plumbing the depth all over the venue. This involves using a 1-2oz (28-57g) lead tied to the end of your line with a ‘marker float’ above it. When you cast this rig out, the lead sinks to the bottom of the pit, and you retrieve line until the float is pulled down in the water and it hits the lead. Then you pay out line, 1ft at a time (or in metric measurements) until the float appears at the surface. By counting how many feet you have released, you can calculate the depth of water at that point, and more importantly, you can measure any changes in the depth as you cast to different areas.

As you move from swim to swim, you can build up a picture (indeed many anglers actually draw a picture) of the sub-surface profile of the lake’s bed. It is from this map that you can plan your attack.

How to Fish During Warm Weather

In warmer months or during warm spells of weather in the winter, try fishing along the side of shallow bars, as these are natural food larders and, therefore, excellent fish-holding areas. During cold-weather, fish the deeper areas of the pit, where water temperatures will be warmest.

The time at which you fish is vital to success. On clear venues (and most gravel pits are clear) night fishing is the best time to catch fish, and this is particularly true on hard-fished venues. If you are unable to fish at night, try to fish on overcast, breezy days when the light intensity under the water will be low.

If you do catch a good fish, make a note of the time at which you caught it, as big fish in gravel pits generally have set feeding times which may only last for an hour each day.


Gravel pits are undoubtedly hard work compared with artificially stocked commercial fisheries, but the rewards can be fantastic.


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