Tag Archives: plaice fishing

Book a boat part 1- Anglo Dawn, Salcombe

With many of us now looking at planning future fishing trips, we thought it might be nice to take a closer look at some of the fantastic charter boats operating out of the many ports around the UK coastline. Today, we focus on on ‘Anglo Dawn’, operating out of Salcombe and skippered by Chris Roberts. Chris will take it from here…

 I have been chartering since 2003 but have fished for my entire life. I have fished commercially and with rod and line. My father taught me to fish and one of my earliest memories was being tied to the mast of the boat and on another occasion catching dogfish. A little later on I moved to Australia to pursue a rugby scholarship and whilst there, out of season, I worked on a commercial drop-liner that fished the continental shelf, the Great Barrier Reef and occasionally ventured as far as one hundred miles offshore. 

Chris Roberts- Skipper of Anglo Dawn

I returned to the UK in 2003 and earned my yacht masters qualification and began chartering.

I’m also currently about to pass out as a coxswain for the Salcombe lifeboat. 

My vessel is Anglo Dawn, a 36ft Offshore 105 that will happily cruise at around 15 knots but can top 20 knots thanks to 370hp under the hatch. The boat is well kitted out with Garmin electronics, heated wheelhouse, onboard toilet and Icey-Tec cool boxes for stowing your catch. Deck space is very accommodating and there’s plenty of room throughout. 

Since I started operating out of Salcombe, we have seen some brilliant fish come to the boat including-

Ling 39lb 12oz

Cod 27lb

Pollack 25lb

Coalfish 25lb 8oz 

Conger 85lb

Bass 13lb 10oz

Plaice 6lb 5oz

John Dory 6lb 8oz

Turbot 14lb 

Blonde ray 29lb 

Brill 8lb 8oz 

Huss 13lb 

Black bream 5lb 

Blue shark 125lb (formula)

Porbeagle shark 70 lb (formula)

Now that’s a ling!

 

A heavy set cod and a happy customer

A lumpy pollack

Salcombe is set in a beautiful picturesque location and being the most southerly point means less steaming time to reach the more productive grounds. 

The picturesque Salcombe estuary

Parking is never a problem as I pick my anglers up from the large long-stay car park. 

The variety of the fishing found here is incredible with everything from two hour mackerel trips,

drifting the Skerries banks for plaice, rays and bass, offshore drift fishing over wrecks with artificials for species such as cod, pollack, bass and inshore work for species such as big bream and gurnards.

A lot of the best fishing is just a short steam from port so this ensures more fishing time. 

The banks in particular produce some excellent ray fishing with small eyed, blonde, spotted and thornbacks all regular captures. Bass are also very much on the cards.

A fine bass for skipper Chris

For those who prefer traditional deep water wreck fishing at anchor, we regular fish for the big conger and ling that inhabit the wartime wrecks that are strewn across the English Channel.

If you would like to enquire with Chris about making a booking, you can contact him on 

07967 387657 or visit his Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Boat-Service/Anglo-Dawn-Salcombe-Charter-Boat-Skippered-by-Chris-Roberts-1414306782132263/

Chesil Beach 2020 – Early summer prospects

Ben Stockley guests on todays blog and gives us a detailed insight in to just what we can expect from Dorset’s, if not the UK’s, most popular sea angling destination this summer. Ben’s portfolio of fish landed from the shingle is second to none, so we thoroughly recommend digesting every last word….

Chesil Prospects For June 2020

With fishing currently on the back burner, let’s look forward to some early Summer sport when hopefully we will all be back out enjoying ourselves once again! For anybody new to fishing Chesil, it can be a daunting place with over 18 miles to choose from before you even consider weather conditions, tides, etc. Below I have attempted to give some basic information which might just help you to catch a few more fish.

June Species

June will see many of the Summer species starting to show with Smoothound to low double figures the most popular target. Although Chesil fish generally tend to average 3-8lb, June represents a great chance to secure one of the larger specimens.

A typical smoothhound for Ben

For the big fish angler, the other main target will be Rays and apart from a Stinger, all of the main species can be caught this month to beyond specimen size. 

From the top- Small eyed, spotted and thornback rays

For those preferring a mixed bag, Plaice will show in reasonable numbers, Red and Tub Gurnard should be present, and the odd Black Bream will start to figure in catches. Mackerel anglers should have fun during early mornings/evenings and a few Bass, Conger and Mullet can also be found. Chesil being Chesil means that even aside from these reliable regulars, pretty much anything can turn up on its day! 

A stunning plaice captured under idyllic skies

As a general rule of thumb, Abbotsbury Westwards will produce mainly Plaice, Hounds, Tub Gurnard, Mackerel, Mullet and Rays whilst marks to the East offer all of the above plus Red Gurnard, more Conger, a few Bream but less Plaice.

Tides

The great beauty of Chesil is that it can be fished on any size of tide. For visiting anglers pick a medium sized one of 1.7-2.0 metres on the Portland scale. The very largest tides often send fish off the feed for long periods due to excessive flow. Similarly, much below 1.7 metres and you will be sitting through long spells with no flow and no fish. Choose an evening or early morning session, 4 hours before high and 3 back or shorten that to 3 either side if fishing west of Abbotsbury. This will mean a continuous run of right to left flow and hopefully plenty of bites! Expect that final hour as the flow eases off a touch to be the hot period but once slack water arrives, it’s time to go!   

Weather

Long hot days in June with clear flat seas can be quite difficult for fishing. However, set the alarm clock early and fish from first light until the sun gets too intense or again in the evening and the results can be spectacular if you match it to a decent period in the tide. 

If we do get a short onshore blow to churn the sea up a bit, it can be fantastic as it doesn’t seem to produce the hordes of Dogfish and Pout that the same conditions would do in the Autumn. It also seems to really encourage the Rays, Hounds and Bass to feed like crazy!

Weather to avoid for me is a stiff onshore wind combined with gin clear water. Sometimes this can be ok for Hounds but usually most fish will still be sat out at range and the loss of 20-30 yards can have a really negative impact. These conditions on a bright sunny day are an absolute kiss of death. 

Baits & Rigs

The rig – and baits – of choice for a mixed bag

Fresh Peeler, Ragworm and fresh Mackerel would be my top baits for a mixed bag on Chesil during June with a pack of quality frozen eels also useful if targeting Rays on some marks. Some small gutted and rolled blow lug or blacks can also work well if fishing west of Abbotsbury for Plaice.

My preference at a lot of marks on Chesil in June is a multi-hook rig of some description carrying small baits such as half a crab or a small section of ragworm tipped with Mackerel on the top 2 snoods with a slightly bigger crab or fish bait on the bottom tucked in tight behind the an Impact lead.

Every angler has their own preference, but it is not uncommon to pick up a Plaice or Gurnard on the small baits and a big ray or hound on the bottom snood at the same time. The all-out big bait, big fish approach means that you can sometimes miss out on some quality smaller species that might also be present unless you employ this tactic on a 2nd rod.

A colourful combination!

In the clear summer water, smaller well-presented baits even for the bigger fish will often out catch a bigger offering due to the extra casting distance and finesse particularly in daylight. I would never go bigger than a size 2/0 for the Rays/Hounds in the summer, and a size 2 is perfect for the other general species.

 Stay safe everyone and see you on the beach soon!

Ben

 

VMO plaice fishing away day

On Wednesday 27th March, Harry, Simon and Jeremy headed for the western end of Chesil Beach with a view to targeting the plaice that reside there in the spring time. Harry in particular had been studying the weather for some time and after a frustrating period of strong onshore winds that ruined the water clarity, eventually the pressure rose, the winds fell light and the visibility improved. 

Loaded up with not only some prime ragworm and black lug, they also relieved VMO’s stock of a quantity of the fantastic Two Hook Loop Premium Shore Fishing Rigs. We probably do harp on a bit about these, but they really are tied that well and free up a lot of time. Tying multi-hook clip down rigs is never fun and it’s good to know we now have ready made rigs that are as good as anything we have tied ourselves!

After a considerable drive, the lads arrived and set off for their chosen mark. They were surprised to find that there was just a few anglers dotted along the beach and they were able to find a large empty section to set up shop. As predicted, the water was crystal clear, the wind was offshore and the brilliant sunshine really made it feel like spring had sprung. The big question was though, who was going to land the first fish?

Harry’s rods await the start of the action

The ever popular Daiwa 7HT Magnofuge – perfect for plaice fishing

As luck would have it, Harry had only just put his rod in the rest when a steady pull over of the rod tip signalled the presence of some interest. Rather than winding in straight away, Harry left the bite to develop and busied himself by preparing a spare trace. Ten minutes passed by and he couldn’t wait a minute longer. Pulling the bucket lead from its resting place, some steady resistance was felt and sure enough a few tugs on the tip as the weight was retrieved gave the game away. Soon enough, a well conditioned plaice was soon slid up and over the shingle and it was all the three guy’s needed to get them focussing on the rod tips!

First cast success!

Harry’s next cast produced another fish of similar size and in no time at all, Jeremy and Simon had also opened their flatfish accounts. A small bullhuss also graced Simon’s rod to add to the variety. As the tide began to pick up in pace, so the plaice continued their feeding frenzy and other than a solitary dogfish, all three anglers pulled a number of good quality fish up the beach.

Jeremy (left) and Simon in on the action

Ragworm certainly seemed to be doing the damage, as is often the case early on in the season on Chesil, and colourful continental style leads seemed to be giving a slight edge.

Ragworm (top) proved the most reliable bait on the day.

As the tide eventually eased, the plaice finally stopped feeding and it was time to make a mental note of exactly who had caught the most fish. A crisp ten pound note awaited the winner and after a little banter the results were in. Harry had landed 10 fish, Simon landed 6 and Jeremy 5.

Harry’s winning bag of fish excluding his tenth on the last cast (all but one released after spending time in a deep bucket of water that was changed every hour)

The guys had enjoyed not only a summer-like day fishing in tee shirts, but had also put together some tidy bags of fish. 

Simon with a typical brace of plaice

It’s brilliant when a plan comes together and the fish play ball, but it’s even better when the weather is on your side. We’re in no doubt at all that this is just the start of the plaice season and if the weather Gods continue to be kind to us, there will be many more fish filled days to come on the shingle this year!

Spring plaice fishing afloat

Today, we thank Scott Smy for his thoughts on how to set up shop for spring plaice when fishing afloat. These beautifully pattered flatfish can offer exceptional sport on light tackle and are viewed by many as a gateway species in to the summer months of angling action to come…

Having just endured some of the coldest weather we have seen in March for many a year it is strange to think that we are actually in Spring now with snow on the ground, but in Spring we are and that means the arrival of the plaice from both boat and shore.

As water temperatures start to climb large numbers of plaice start to move into UK inshore waters to start to fatten-up having spent the last few months spawning. This means that many plaice caught this time of year are in relatively poor condition and you’ll often hear the expression of them being ‘wafer thin’. However what they lack in condition they can make-up for in sheer numbers particularly if you are targeting them from a boat.

Scott’s pal, Adrian Kruger, with a colourful boat caught brace

Many charter boats running out of ports such as Dartmouth, West Bay and Weymouth specifically target plaice at this time of year as these ports are just a short steam from the two most famous plaice fishing areas on the south coast, those being the Skerries Bank off South Devon and the Shambles off Dorset. Both of these areas produce excellent plaice fishing from the boat and on the right day have the ability to produce large numbers of plaice.

Whilst the Shambles generally produces the larger specimen plaice (particularly later in the year) the Skerries often produces greater catches in terms of numbers, with catches of 100+ fish in one day being a distinct possibility. However both venues share the same characteristics in terms of the perfect conditions needed to be successful and that is generally bright conditions with plenty of sunlight and crystal-clear water as plaice feed by sight. Any sort of east in the wind seems to put the curse on plaice fishing from the boat. One of the benefits of a boat plaice fishing trip is the fact that you don’t need to steam over the horizon like you would do when going wreck fishing so you really do get a full day’s fishing and in many ports the trip is cheaper than a day’s offshore wrecking. Something worth bearing in mind.

Tackle

Whilst most plaice fishing from the boat involves drifting over relatively clean ground using long flowing traces with beads and attractors, this isn’t necessarily always the case. Most of the more productive plaice fishing off Weymouth for instance is on an area of mussel beds located just inside the Shambles Bank itself. This means you are dragging your baited trace over a snaggier bottom made up of small pea mussels which is what the plaice are feeding hard on. Drifting over this ground means keeping your trace much shorter (no more than 4ft in length) and a trace line of a higher breaking strain than that which you would use on clean ground. I usually use 25lb Varivas Sea Bass Shock Leader fluorocarbon trace with an Abu Rauto Spoon (or similar) and black and green beads above the hook which is a 1/0 or 2/0 (depending on bait size) Varivas Saltwater Super Match which will bend out of the snags.

Author Scott with a ‘spoon fed’ plaice

 

This is important when fishing the Weymouth mussel beds as hooks that are too stiff will result in lost gear. It is also essential to check your hook point after every drift as any hook can quickly become blunted. Although you can use 2 hooks I prefer to use just 1 in order to reduce the chance of snagging up. Weights vary depending on the strength of tide but watch style leads work very well – I would take a variety of them between 4 and 8 oz’s.

Fishing the cleaner ground on the banks of the Skerries means a much more refined approach in terms of end tackle. Traces should be 10-12ft in length made up using 15lb fluorocarbon and hook sizes between size 1 and 1/0 (again I use the Varivas Saltwater Super Match or Kamasan B940. A second hook off a 3-way swivel half way along the trace doubles your chances and I always use a large attractor spoon within 4-5” of the hook. If using beads and attractors (which most people do) a good tip is to tie the hook to the end of the trace by a short length of line (with a swivel at one end). This means if you have to cut your hook off due to the plaice swallowing the hook down, which often happens when they are feeding hard, then you don’t end up with beads all over the deck! A watch lead of 4-6oz is all you need on the Skerries. Sometimes it also pays to put a small egg-shaped sinker of 0.5oz above the beads if not using a spoon to ensure your bait is hard on the bottom.

A simple yet highly effective rig for catching plaice on the drift

As far as rods and reels go, an 8-12lb class boat rod with a soft tip which is light enough to hold all day is perfect for plaice fishing. This should be coupled with a small multiplier reel such as a Penn Fathom 12 loaded with 20lb braid and a rubbing leader of 10ft of 30lb mono is perfect for both the Shambles and Skerries. The lack of stretch you get from using braid means you can easily identify bites compared to mono and I have found results in a better ratio of bites to fish landed.

The type of tackle you’ll need for plaice fishing afloat

As most boat fishing for plaice is done on the drift it is essential to let out line as soon as you get that first bite – if not you will simply be dragging your bait away from your intended prize. However using braid over the mussel beds off Weymouth takes some getting used to as every time the lead falls down over a ridge you’ll think you have a bite. Only once you’ve caught a fish can you start to tell the difference between what is bottom and what is a fish.

Bait

By far the most consistent bait for plaice from the boat is ragworm (I prefer large locally dug, not farmed) tipped-off with a long thin strip of squid. Lugworm and blacks in particular will also work but it’s not as good as rag. I also find that on the Weymouth mussel beds peeler crab can be deadly along with the rag/squid and seems to find-out the bigger fish. If using crab then it is worth increasing your hook size to a 2/0 or 3/0. A 4lb+ plaice will swallow a 3/0 hook no bother. On the Skerries bank over the past few years some anglers have been using frozen cooked prawns with great success. Some have even been using garlic flavourings on their prawns and have reported great catches! I have to say I’m a bit sceptical but if it works then go for it.

Ragworm – a killer plaice bait

Hopefully this gives those of you who haven’t fished for plaice from the boat a bit of information to put to use – all you need to do now is get on the blower and get yourself on a plaice trip!

Plaice fishing along the south coast

Wayne Hand shares with us his approach towards spring plaice fishing on todays VMO blog entry. Even if the weather doesn’t know it right now, spring will soon be with us and with a few fish starting to show, it’s a good time to get your tackle sorted in readiness for some hectic sport.

 

Wayne Hand with a spring plaice

Wayne Hand with a spring plaice

Plaice can be a target for many anglers during the Spring & Summer month’s along many parts of the south coast.  For an angler like myself based in the South West, I would generally target our spotted friends from March to September. Numbers can be steady all year with the bigger fish landed towards August & September after they have had a few good months to fatten up.

 

A brace in the sunshine

A brace in the sunshine

Location & times

If you enjoy your flatty bashing then plaice can be targeted as early as January along the south east coastline with Brighton being a prime venue. The fish will turn up very early along the Sussex coastline, but please be aware that if you like taking a few plaice for the table then these fish will on average be very skinny. It’s the time of year to generally target them for the sport rather than for the table and they should be handled with care before returning them to the sea. Most areas will fish well from March onwards, with venues such as Chesil beach in Dorset being a favourite of mine. If you are not familiar with Chesil beach, it is an 18  mile stretch of shingle and plaice can be landed along its length, but they definitely show a preference for marks at the western end such a West Bexington and Cogden. Plaice can also be located along other areas in Dorset such as Sandbanks or Southbourne and the beaches in Devon such as Slapton & Beesands can hold a good number of plaice throughout the year.

Tackling up for plaice

A specimen plaice is only 2.5lb, unlike others species of fish, this allows you to scale down the rods, reels & terminal tackle to allow for some good sport.

For targeting plaice I use a setup consisting of a Tronixpro Cobra Light rod, occupied with a Tronixpro Virtuoso XT fixed spool reel. The reel is loaded with .18mm diameter fluorocarbon line with a suitable shock leader. This set up allows me to put out a 4oz rolling lead at range to hopefully locate these target fish on a drift, as plaice feed mainly by sight on clean sandy bottoms, you can get away with using all this light gear without fear of any snags or any chance of leaving dead kit on the bottom.

 

Wayne choice of plaice rod- Tronix Pro Cobra Light...

Wayne choice of plaice rod- Tronix Pro Cobra Light…

4-a

…Armed with a Tronix Pro Virtuoso XT

 

Techniques & Rigs

Although plaice are aggressive feeders, within a full tide cycle there can be quiet times where they are less active, so as anglers, we need to use a method from the shore to allow us to search out the sea bed.  Using the tide to move our baits around instead of waiting for the plaice to find the bait is known as the Rolling lead technique. Being an aggressive feeder, plaice find it very hard to resist a passing bait and will primarily feed on sight, so day time hours are the prime time. To enable our baits to be more visual we ‘bling up our rigs’ by adding beads on the hook length or attaching a luminous lead to the rig. A plain lead can be used to cover the sea bed as it trundles around in the tide, or it can be purposely moved by retrieving a few yards of line in order to reposition the baits.

As you can see, I am using a rig called an up & over pulley rig, this is a tight compact rig which has little drag on casting. The rig will unclip as it hits the water allowing me to present a bait at range without fear of tangling. Plaice have small mouths, so you need to scale your hooks accordingly, please go careful unhooking plaice, if you damage there gills the fish will die- I find a Varivas 1/0 Aberdeen a great hook for connecting with the fish, also big enough for me to handle with care when unhooking, meaning the fish will not swallow the hook right down like a size 2 or 4 hook and therefore enabling me to release the fish unharmed.

Keeping it colourful

Keeping it colourful

6-a

Bring on the bling!

Bait

Most anglers target plaice using Blow & Black lug along the Sussex beaches, we find more along the Dorset coast that rag tipped with prawns can be the winning bait, while some anglers targeting smoothhound or cod along Chesil in the Autumn months accidentally land 3 or 4lb fish using crab. Every angler has their own favourite bait’s, but those are mine.

In summary

I hope my blog has given you a little insight into plaice fishing if you were unsure before, also do remember, fishing more than anything is based on an opinion, so please ask questions and do your own homework before targeting these beautiful creatures.

Please be aware that the minimum size limit for a plaice is 28cms, if you wanted to take one home for the family to enjoy, please make sure if is over this size. Good luck and be safe!

Wayne Hand – Tronixpro ambassador and VMO contributor.

Wayne includes a selection of photo’s featuring the highlights of a recent shore fishing session with a few friends at Brighton…

 

Jon Patten with two typical examples

Jon Patten with two typical examples

8-a

The author, in on the action again!

9-a

Steve Harder (left) and Steve Perry. Blue sky and smiles all round