Thousands of anglers have been hitting the South Coast of England recently in their search for early season Plaice. Growing in popularity, thanks to the settled weather and promotion by catch reports on social media, their participation in this particular species hunt has never been greater. We caught up with one of our West Country PRO-Team members James Madsen, and got his take on fishing for Plaice in the area.
Spring in my step
I've always loved catching Plaice and Spring is my favourite time to target them. I'm actually more eager to get out fishing in the Spring than any other time of the year. I see catching this species of flatfish as a sign that winter is over, a time when we can enjoy longer days, warmer weather with clearer sea’s.
There is no better news than a settled weather forecast in mid-March leading into April. We need clear calm seas for the best of the Plaice fishing. As it happens, we have been really lucky with the weather conditions of late and the sea’s around the South coast have been running clear – importants as Plaice are generally recognised as sight feeders, feeding on a diet mainly of worms and crustaceans.
What's the obsession?
More often than not, flatfish tend to feed at intervals in the tide. Because of these feeding patterns this can actually make a Plaice fishing session quite a long drawn out process. Anglers who are willing to put in good rod hours or know which are the best times in the tide to target Plaice, on a particular venue, generally have most success. For this reason travelling anglers tend to set up camp early in the morning and settle down for a full day's fishing. Because of the catch reports on social media popularity for Spring Plaice fishing has grown massively in recent years. Catching them seems to hold a fair amount of kudos, they look great in a photograph and of course eat well. I personally love the whole process of catching Plaice - from the slow pull down on the rod tip when they bite, the way they hug the bottom all the way to the water's edge and then gently slide up the shingle onto the beach.
A perfect day
Alarm set, can't sleep. Quiet motorway, great feeling. Arriving at sunrise, glorious. Good weather conditions, relief. First cast, careful. First bite, buzzing. First fish, smiling. Long quiet periods, relaxing. Change in tide, fruitful. Calling it a day, difficult.
Preparation is Key
Like many anglers, I get just as much enjoyment from the thought of fishing as I do on the actual day I'm participating. Good preparation will often dictate how successful our fishing will actually be. This could be sorting reels for casting, gathering good bait and of course tying rigs. We all need our different forms of therapy, particularly after a busy day at work, and I find my rig tying quite therapeutic. It's personal preference but I've never been one for buying ready tied rigs. Each to their own, and I do understand that not everyone has the time or the skill set to tie their own rigs. Only an opinion, I just find catching a fish on a rig that I tied to be very satisfying.
Rigs for Plaice
Clipped Down rigs are commonly used when Plaice fishing. Clipped rigs cast further and give you more options on the beach. I personally tend to use a variety of Two-Hook Clipped Down, two hooks above the lead and loop rigs with one hook up and one hook below the lead. Single hook clip downs will obviously give you a greater casting distance, which can be needed when Plaice fishing. I favour a single hook up and over rig, which once unclipped gives you a long flowing trace below the lead.
Longer shank hooks work well when fishing with worm baits for flatfish. It's also worth offsetting your hook points for a greater chance of a hook up.
Plaice are sight feeders, so bright coloured beads and sequins can add extra attraction to your bait however it's worth bearing in mind that beads and attractors on your hook lengths will reduce casting distances.
Cox and Rawle Hooks and Components
Aberdeen Match SCR27
Long Range Worm SCR37
If you like attractors it's worth looking at this range. In particular the 5mm beads in solid bright fluorescent colours.
Stainless steel swivels are much stronger, allowing you to safely lower the sizes of your swivels, which can gain you a few extra yards.
Chesil Flatfish Competition
Chesil Beach in Dorset is a prime example of the growing popularity in Plaice fishing. Over the past two weeks areas of Chesil beach between Abbotsbury to Cogden have been rammed shoulder-to-shoulder with anglers looking to catch this popular flatfish. And it's no coincidence that this period of early spring now leads us up to one of the biggest match fishing events held on the South West coast of England. On Sunday 7th April, Weymouth Angling Centre are holding their annual Flatfish Open on Chesil beach. Hundreds of anglers will sign up to fish this contest from 9am at Abbotsbury car park. Only flatfish will count in this competition and the majority of the the fish caught will be Plaice.