How Do You Catch Plaice from the Sea Shore?
Are you looking to get into sea fishing? If so, then there’s never been a better time to learn the various techniques.
One of the most popular fish species you’ll have fun catching round the UK is plaice. These are uniformly spread across the UK coastline and can easily be found at the seashore, which is a nice transition into sea fishing.
However, it takes a lot to turn a hobbyist fisherman into a successful angler.
In this post, we take an in-depth look at plaice fishing while considering everything from them when and where to catch them and the best tactics to guarantee you a successful catch. So, without any further ado, below is a comprehensive guide on how to catch plaice from the shore.
The most notable distinguishing feature between the two species is a series of 4 to 7 boney knobs that run backward between the eyes of the plaice towards their pectoral fin. On the contrary, the flounder has raised prickles above its pectoral fin as opposed to the boney knobs.
The backside of the plaice is usually light to medium brown with clear orange spots. Meanwhile, the underbelly is pearl while but it can be marked with dark blotches occasionally.
Plaice will typically spawn between January and March in waters over 30m. The eggs float on the surface for 10-20 days, upon which they hatch into larvae that will continue living on the surface for another 4-6 weeks.
At this point, one eye on the fish migrates to the right so that both its eyes are positioned on the right side of the body. Plaice can grow to around 3.75” and their diet is made up of worms, stars, shellfish like razorfish and mussels, crabs, etc.
How to Catch Plaice from the Shore
Where Can You Find Plaice?
Hiking around the UK & British Isles, alongside Irish coasts, as well as far south extending to the Mediterranean. Their habitat also stretches to the north throughout Norway and Russia.
Plaice season in the UK starts around the end of February, with the fish mainly caught in the south, west, and as far north as the Scottish border.
However, the season shifts to the east and off the Scottish coast around one month later. The early plaice are generally thin but feed up to a healthy size. They remain inshore to around October before moving out to the deeper waters.
Typically, beach plaice are fished during the larger spring tides when the fish are more active and eager to feed. Estuary plaice tend to feed more frequently and aggressively when the tides are smaller and less fierce.
Most anglers catch the plaice in broad daylight when it’s easy to see through the water, although some people fish for the odd plaice at night. The fish generally prefer clear seas with less colour and overall clarity.
Lastly beach plaice will normally concentrate over sand or shingle beds but may also be found in a mud-sand mixture at the shore. They are also attracted to seed mussel beds at estuary mouths and muddy channels where rocks covered with weeds make the estuary sides. Furthermore, this fish species prefer to feed at the bottom of sandy, shell-grit, or mud seabeds, usually about 10.97 metres of water.
What is the Best Time to Fish for Plaice?
Whether you’re fishing for plaice from the shore or the boat, the clarity of the water is crucial to successfully target this flatfish species. The eyes of the fish are positioned on one side and when they are shuffled into the sea bed or sand, it will only be able to see the bait when there is sufficient visibility in the water. While some anglers have been known to catch plaice at night, this is relatively unusual.
The best time to fish is when the tide begins to ease. This a season that coincides with March and April, and usually marks the beginning of the plaice fishing season in the UK. However, the fish caught during this time are thin since it comes just after spawning. The plaice will move back inshore during autumn. At this point, they are generally in a healthier condition after spending the summer feeding and bulking up.
What is the Best Bait for Shore Plaice Fishing?
A great way to make bait for plaice is to shred a peeler crab into half then bind the pieces to a hook with elastic. Add a slice of smelly squid to the hook so that there is some movement on the bait.
Other baits you can use for plaice include fresh ragworm, black and blow lugworm, sand clams, fresh mussel, razorfish, as well as white rag for those who can access it. Plaice are also attracted to sand eel, cockles, and squid strips.
What are the Best Equipment and Techniques for Plaice Fishing?
Most anglers generally beginning catching plaice in the spring season when the fish start to return after spawning. At this stage, the plaice are thin and in poor health because of the energy spent during migration.
However, they start to feed and increase in weight afterward. Despite their overall small frame, usually growing to a length of just over 3 feet, plaice are very aggressive predators that will get attracted to most of the commonly used sea fishing baits.
Fishermen will often use smaller and lighter equipment like a bass rod or a specialised flatfish rod. If you are fishing for plaice from the shore, a simple leger rig or a 2-hook running leger rig will serve the purpose just fine.
Basic Leger Rig
This type of rig is used to lay hook bait on the seabed. Usually, the distance from the hook to the swivel varies but should generally be at least 1 foot.
This leger rig works well since your fishing line can get through the weight’s eye, which means suspicious plaice can bite on the bait without immediately sensing the resistance.
Double Hooking Running Leger Rig
The 2-hook leger rig is a versatile option because it allows you to cast two hook baits on or close to the seabed. You may also use two different types of bait. The distance from the hook to the 3-way swivel can vary but it should be at least 8 inches. If you want the bait to be just above the seabed, then attach the weight to the mainline swivel using a line of approximately 3 feet long.
However, if you want the bait laid on the seabed, directly fit your weight to the mainline. In this case, the distance between the three-way swivel and bead may vary but it should be at least 1 foot.
Just like the flounder, plaice are very inquisitive fish and tend to be attracted to beads and sequins placed on the hook lengths. Many anglers believe that using black and green colours on the hook best attracts the plaice.
A packet of 50 black and green plaice beads will cost you just about 75p at a sea fishing shop. If you go fishing during the day, adding a piece of mackerel belly or strip of squid helps to make your bait more visible to the plaice. These flow and flutter in the tide, helping to attract the curious fish.
Meanwhile, hooking a ragworm is another tactic you can employ as the tail wriggles around to get attention from the plaice. Additionally, competing anglers tip off the hooks with white ragworm or maddies when trying to catch a match-winning prize.
Generally, most anglers will use rigs with double-hook or triple-hook flapping rigs with different baits on each rig to tempt the plaice. Another good idea is to use long-shanked hooks as they are easier to remove from the mouths of flatfish.
Essential Shore Plaice Fishing Tips to Remember
Surf beach plaice will typically move in with the tide and sit in the deep parallel gutters on the beach or any scoured-out depressions you can find. They also like to bury themselves in the sand and at the base of shallow sandbanks. This is where they’ll pick off the food floating on the tide as it moves in. On the other hand, estuary plaice can be located at the edge of seed mussel beds found at the heads of smaller estuaries.
Plaice are more attracted to bait that seems to be moving. If possible, you want to change to a flat type lead or plain bomb to allow the tide pressure on the line to sway your bait in a broad arc slowly inshore.
This trick enables the bait to fall into the depressions and gutters at the shore, helping to find the fish for you. In case the tide run is limited, you can try to twitch the bait back in your direction a few inches at a time. This is usually enough to induce a take. You can experiment with Breakaway Flattie leads for this!
Plaice will best feed in clear and calm waters, so be sure to find the right conditions when you go plaice fishing. Furthermore, you’ll have a better catch if you switched your mono hook trace to a lightweight Fluorocarbon hook length. Considering that plaice will ordinarily grow to just over 3 pounds, you can go as lightweight as possible to enhance the natural movement of the bait.
You should note that plaice bites in shallow water are generally gentle. While you might be tempted to strike when you see the rod tip shake slightly, it is wise to be a little more patient.
Wait till you see the tip rod getting pulled properly to strike. You don’t even have to lift your rod fully, just remove the slack then move the lead and the fish will be hooked. When the water in the fishing zone is muddy, the fish will be more aggressive than usual. They will rattle the bait a little then pull hard as they bite on the bait and try to swim away.
You always want to find fine wired yet strong type hooks when fishing plaice. These are best for the small mouths of the fish and are designed to suit the way these fish feed. If you keep on missing bites and suspect that the plaice are getting away, try dropping to size 4 or 6 hooks. Remember that plaice can be very fussy, especially during long periods of clear and flat calm seas.
The guide above will help you to come out with a satisfying catch when you go fishing for plaice. However, you should note that plaice stocks have been on the decrease, so as a responsible angler, ensure that all the fish you catch are between 28 and 30cm to conserve their numbers in the sea.
Otherwise, that is all there is for those looking to learn how to catch plaice from the shore!
What gear would you say is essential?
There’s of course a whole entire article that could be written on this, but for sure you’ll need a waterproof backpack with lots of pockets, waterproof gloves & socks and maybe waders to prevent yourself getting drenched.
Where are Plaice Caught?
Plaice are more commonly caught at the seashore between March and September since they stay deeper in the water during the cold winter months. This is also the time when they spawn before moving towards the shore. As the water temperature starts to warm up during spring, plaice will move inshore to more shallow waters, bringing them within striking distance for shore anglers.
What is the Best Bait for Flatfish?
The most commonly used bait for flatfish such as plaice and flounders include a ragworm or lugworm dipped in fresh mackerel. In some cases, fishermen also use clams, razorfish, and cockles to dislodge the fish from under the sandbars.
Is Flounder Eaten in the UK?
Flounder are rarely sold to the UK public for consumption; rather, they are mainly used by commercial fishermen as bait for crab or lobster pots. Some areas of the UK have witnessed a significant hit in flounder stock as a result of excessive commercial fishing.