I started fishing last year and after reading a few magazines and speaking to a few people, I’m still a bit confused. Before you start fishing I have read you need to search out gravel patches to place your rig and loose feed on, but if you’re float fishing this isn’t necessarily the case. All you need to do then, is plumb the depth and try and ascertain the depth. Why is it more important therefore to find gravel when fishing on the bottom?
Thanks for the question – to be honest both are important. So, you are doing right by looking for variations in depth and searching out those all important differences and features. To take it a step further would be finding those clear, gravel patches... most of the time (I’ll come back to that later).
On all lakes and rivers, there will be areas that all fish will visit regularly. These will be holding areas of natural food, whether it be bloodworm, mussels, snails, etc. Over time these may get cleared down to the gravel. These areas may be quite small, where the fish have dug down. So this would indicate a natural feeding spot, well worth trying out. The other clear areas that can be created over time are where anglers’ baits have been put in over many years. The fish will also be used to visiting these as well. So, as well as finding the depth, it’s worth taking some time to try and find these spots by having a cast around with a lead only. When drawing the lead back, you will always feel a tap-tapping as you draw the lead over clean gravel. Try it in the margins where you can see a clear patch – it’s totally different to pulling across mud, sand or silt. If you use braid with the lead, it will feel much more pronounced. Many anglers will use braid on their marker rod for this purpose. Presenting bait on such a spot, the carp should find the bait easier, and it may well be the first place they visit in an area. As well as finding this gravel spot, try and identify its size and shape, this will help when you are baiting up and also with regard to the placement of hookbaits. For example, do you want your hookbait in the middle of the clearing or on the edge of the clearing? There is a well proven theory that bigger carp will always have a mooch around the outside of these as opposed to diving in straight away.
Now to my second point. Over time, fish can stay away from these areas and stop visiting them in favour of other areas for a number of reasons – whether it be the lack of any food present, or being caught their too regularly, and consequently shying away. That’s why it’s important to understand the water you are fishing in more depth (pardon the pun). On some lakes I fish, I look for those gravelly areas that the carp visit regularly as they search for food – a bit of understanding on what the carp are feeding on in a water will help too. In other parts the gravel is barren and the carp may prefer to search for siltier areas just away from those gravelly patches, or at the bottom of a bar or drop-offs. These are natural collecting areas for an abundance of food items and bait as well. I guess that’s for another day though. Hope this helps.
£250 W IN N IN G Q U E S T IO N Are you this month’s Contact winner? firstname.lastname@example.org Jon at to claim your prize A nice common taken by looking for a gravel patch, where they were searching for natural food
A torpedo-shaped river carp, taken from fishing a silty area at the back of the gravel
This is what the carp are feeding on amongst the gravel