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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…