The Plaice is one of the most loved sea fish in Britain although these days big numbers of big fish are not as common as they once were. There are still big fish out there and several 5lb plus fish are landed every year and a 3lb fish has plenty of flesh for a good meal for two. The Plaice favour a sandy bottom on and around banks and mussel beds and are targeted by rod and line anglers from early spring to mid-autumn.
Plaice can be fished for both at anchor and by drifting. Drifting for Plaice can provide spectacular sport with numerous bites occurring.
Many anglers specialising in drifting for Plaice will use a light carp style rod with a small fixed spool, terminal tackle will also be kept light, but will almost always incorporate coloured beads and attractor blades of some type.
Light boat rods in the 6 to 12lb class category will suffice for both drifting and for anchored Plaice fishing, as for terminal tackle there is quite an array. Hook sizes will generally be in the size 2 to 2/0 with size 1 or 1/0 being the most popular.
The wishbone rig is tried and tested for Plaice, this is shaped like a Y with the tail of the Y attached to the main line and a hook on the other two ends, before attaching the hook coloured beads, sequins and spinner blades can be slid on to the line, the colours are a personal choice but many anglers favour using alternating black and green beads, these certainly seem to work well along the south coast.
A straight running leger rig with a single hook can be anything from a couple of inches in length to 6ft or even more, look around the boat and see what rigs are catching and experiment with hook length.
Boom rigs have become popular in recent years these are 12" to 18" pieces of rigid stainless steel wire with a loop at each end and a swivel in the middle, often the whole length of the wire has coloured beads threaded on to it. The hooks are attached to either end and the main line is connected in the middle above the lead these rigs are primarily used when drift fishing and can be very effective.
When at anchor another effective method is the paternoster rig with very short hook lengths on booms, the use of a grip lead assists, anglers flick the rig uptide slightly and allow the lead to anchor the seabed, then when the rod is placed in the rod holder the natural action of the waves will cause the line and boomed hook lengths to "lift and drop" from the seabed. This method is a sure-fire way to attract the inquisitive Plaice.
Leads are usually 2oz or 3oz when drifting and maybe a little heavier at anchor depending on tide, watch leads are good as they kick up sand as they are dragged along the bottom and in theory this attracts the plaice.
Top baits on the South Coast are ragworm, ragworm tipped with a long thin sliver of squid, or even better if you can get hold of some White Ragworm to tip your bait with. A bunch of lively Maddies will very often prove to out-fish the majority of other baits. Other baits worth trying either on their own or as a combination (cocktail) are prawns and shellfish such as mussels, cockles and pieces of razor fish.