A Guide To Plaice Fishing
As the winter draws to a close many anglers turn their attention towards perssuing that popular spring time flat fish, the Plaice. Arriving around the end of February in some regions if the Winter has been a mild one, this attractive quarry is often the first serious proposition for the angler who has spent the new year catching rockling and Dabs.
Popular venues include Slapton sands in devon, Chesil Beach in Dorset and Eastney in Hampshire. All three of these marks share a couple of common similarities. Firstly, they are all shingle beaches with clean sand within casting range, a favourite habitat of most flatfish.
Secondly, they are all on the English Channel coast where the water clarity tends to be quite good most of the time owing to the lack of suspended sediment ( with the exception of the May Water, an algae that blooms with the rise of the sea temperature in the spring) , a key factor when targeting the predominantly sight feeding Plaice.
Weather conditions play a key role in Plaice fishing too, ideal conditions involve a settled area of high pressure and the light winds associated with it, although any off shore wind will have the desired effect of smoothing the sea giving it that ‘gin clear’ look. The water clarity could be perhaps the most essential factor in successful Plaice fishing, the freshest bait on the neatest rig cast to the horizon will almost certainly result in failure if the water is dirty, so keep an eye on the weather forecast at all times.
Prefered tidal stages are an individual choice and it would be fair to say that Plaice can be caught at most stages of the tide; some anglers will concentrate their efforts over the top of the tide on a spring, others over low tide during a set of neaps, over time you will get to know the hot time at your local patch so fish when you feel most confident.
Tackle for plaice fishing does not need to be in any way complicated or heavy, most average around 1lb- 11/2lb and a 3lb Plaice is an exceptional fish at most venues so light tackle can be used to get the most out of these feisty flats.
With the advent of long continental style rods in the UK, many anglers are now seeing the benefits the extra length has to offer when coupled to a large fixed spool loaded with light mono and the easy casting distance it can bring. Although long range casting catches the lion’s share of the fish, a wise angler would fish a second rod at slightly shorter range as many a good Plaice is caught this way.
Traces can be simple 2 hook clipped paternosters armed with size 2 Aberdeen patterns, the ‘loop’ version is popular in some regions and the addition of colourful beads, sequins and blades above the hook baits are proven catch boosters. Specialist Plaice beads are incredibly popular in some regions where as in others, a sequence of red and yellow beads above the hook are established tradition. Again, this is an area for personal preference but there is certainly nothing to suggest that these additions would have a detrimental effect on catches, so give them a try?
Bait choice for most would be either fresh black lugworm or ragworm, the latter fished ‘head hooked’ in a DVice has given some great results in recent seasons, if you have yet to try one you wont be disappointed. Other useful additions to your armoury would be fresh peeler crab or razor fish, both baits that have taken their fare share of plaice.
Bites can vary from a strong pull round of the rod tip to just a subtle nod and benefit from being given a little time to ensure a hook up. For this reason those anglers wishing to return their catch choose a lighter pattern of hook that can be removed without damage, giving the fish a better chance of survival.
With spring in the air and the warmer weather on it’s way, why not target a Plaice this coming weekend?