Friday, June 25, 2010

How to catch a plaice

Plaice is a right-handed fish with powerful oval body with bright orange to light red spots. Its eyes and coloured half are on the right side of it’s body and like most fish it’s colours vary slightly from one area to the next. The underside of the plaice is white with a chevron pattern. Apart from some bony tubercles behind the eyes, the scales are so small and so well embedded in the skin that it feels very smooth to the touch.

The best  times for fishing plaice are those hot calm days that we sometimes get in July and August; on days like those there is no need to even anchor the boat. A slow drift can be more productive on these mirror calm days; plaice are an inquisitive fish so a slow drift will give the trace enough movement to attract the fish to the hook as well as allowing your gear to cover more ground.

One thing to remember when you are fishing for plaice and most types of flatfish for that matter: never strike to quickly.
When you feel a bite make sure that you have enough line going out if the boat is drifting slightly; this way you can ensure that the bait is not being dragged away from a potential prize fish.

There are a number of different traces that can be used for fishing plaice; my personal favourite, and one which can easily be used by the beginner, is the double spreader. This trace  consists of a length of stainless steel wire with a small loop at either end for attaching the snoods and in the centre of the wire is a swivelled clip, which is looped at the top for attaching it to the mainline and a clip at the bottom for attaching a weight. Double spreads come in various length, from six inches to two feet.
Snoods can be of any length usually somewhere between 6 inches and 2 feet and on each snood I like to attach several brightly coloured beads and a small silver spoon, and finish off with a good quality long shanked Kamazan B940 hook from a size 2 up to 2/0.
The only reason I would use a 2/0 hook is if there is a possibility of catching something larger like a lesser-spotted dogfish or a thornback ray, as these fish would straighten or break a size 2 hook.
Top baits for a plaice vary slightly from one are to the next, but as general rule mussels are the top bait followed by razor fish, ragworm, lugworm and shrimp. Other types of shellfish such as scallops, clams, cockles and limpets will also catch plaice to a lesser extent. When mussels are being used they must be tied securely  on the hook with bait elastic so stop the plaice from removing them before getting hooked. I like to prepare the mussels that I am going to use in advance of a day’s fishing. I’ll explain the method of preparing the mussels in my next article.

A different bait on each hook will show you what the fish are interested in when you start your day’s fishing, but do not change all your baits to one type until you are  sure that this is what they are feeding on. A cocktail of the baits mentioned will occasionally out-fish an individual bait, while a bait tipped off with small piece of squid or a small sand eel can also work well.

Remember, when fishing for plaice fish with as light a tackle as you possibly can; these fish are not tremendous fighters but you will get some sport in fishing them with light gear as well as having something nice to look forward to for dinner :-)

I personally use:
Fishing rod: St. Croix Premier Saltwater Spinning Rods Model: SWS70MF
Fishing reel: SHIMANO SPHEROS Salt Water SPINNING Reel SP3000FB.

Good luck!

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