What are Borrow Pits and Can You Fish Them?

what are borrow pits and can you fish them

Good morning, brothers.

I came across a video last night, where a YouTuber was complaining about the amount of people on their favorite local shoreline.

It certainly does seem like fishing has increased in popularity. Unfortunately, fishing etiquette has not increased at a proportional rate.

It’s not uncommon to have people, pets, or any number of things encroach on an area where you’re working and just wreck the fishing… but complaining won’t help…

So, What’s a Fisherman to do?

If your fishing area is busy… you only have 4 options, and 3 of them SUCK.

  1. You can quit (don’t be a wuss)
  2. You can complain and wait for the world to change around you (bad choice – none of us are that important)
  3. You can be rude and tell people to leave you alone (no – being annoyed is not a good reason to be a crappy person)
  4. You can find remote areas to fish (good choice – take matters into your own hands like a man)

I like option #4, but this begs the question: where does one find these remote areas?

One option is to look for places that require a fair amount of effort to explore… the fishing is not necessarily difficult, but getting there is. However, another option that I stumbled into is looking for water that is difficult to fish.

Clear water is difficult to fish.

Full stop.

Here in the Midwest, clear water is not exactly abundant. We’re surrounded by algae-filled lakes and dirty rivers… but some of the pits are extremely clear. I’m talking 20-foot+ visibility on a bright morning… and noisy bank fishermen plodding along are not going to catch these spooky fish… after a day or two of this, they won’t be back…

Ain’t no fish in that lake!

Oh… yes there are… they’re just harder to catch…

pit quarry fishing smallmouth bass clear jon boat
Pit smallmouth bass on a Z-Man EZ Tube

What is a Borrow Pit?

borrow pit lake pond quarry stone
Some pits can be surprisingly beautiful, and in this example, there won’t be much bank traffic simply because there isn’t really anywhere to walk. If a tiny ramp is present, this is a perfect jon boat or kayak lake…

The term borrow pit is one used in construction and civil engineering that describes an area where earthen material has been removed. That material will be used for fill at another location. Often people think that the name comes from “the borrowing of material at one location, to be used at another.

I was surprised to find that the name is actually a misinterpretation of the word barrow. A barrow is a “mound” of stone or dirt, and barrow pits were created when these mounds were required.

As per usual… there are many different thoughts on which is correct, and which came first… but here’s the important part…

Borrow Pits can be “Reclaimed” and Utilized

borrow pit lake pond example quarry stone
Some pits are absolutely massive…

Often, this means turning them into ponds or lakes by filling them with water when they are no longer in use, and incoming and outgoing technicalities of the water aside, they are valuable for recreation, the water supply, fishing or any combination therein.

It is advantageous to fill these pits, because if they are left barren it’s not uncommon to see them become dump sites for “end of life” vehicles, urban waste, or even hide outs for armed robbers and ritual killers.

(When I was a kid, me and some buddies found a trailer in an old local pit that was filled with dead, skinned animals. Safe to assume there was something evil going on… )

When filled with water, pits need to be set up properly or that water will stagnate and turn into a breeding ground for mosquitos, tsetse flies and other nasty critters. Pits that are properly formed are able to carry fish and wildlife.

In terms of bottom composition, weeds are not out of the question – but it depends. What material was here? What was removed? Sand, gravel, clay (e.g., bentonite), limestone, talc, iron ore,
and bauxite, among others may make up the area.

This means that weedy cover may not be present (or very sparse) because it simply can’t grow – but on the other hand, the water can be crystal-clear.

This makes the fish spooky. It makes them harder to catch. It makes stealth imperative. It means hobbyists will become discouraged and leave. It means extra thought must be put into bait selection, and how we approach different areas, and what areas we dedicate time to.

It makes for a much more challenging – and therefore rewarding – fishing experience.

So to my friend that was lamenting the congestion on his local city lake shoreline, I would say this.

Find a pit.

Embrace the suck.

It will be frustrating at first, but accept the challenge. Go out and get after it. Because the fish are in there… and when you start to put together the pieces of the puzzle… it starts to get really, really fun.

In the next article we’ll talk about a few top tier options for fishing wary bass in crystal clear water that really work well for me.

top 8 baits borrow pit bass fishing
The Top 8 Baits for Borrow Pit Bass Fishing

Then, I’ll be tying them on and using them myself.

rock quarry jon boat largemouth bass fishing

Tight Lines & Godspeed, Patriots.

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