Plaice fishing seems to be on everyones mind at the moment, and I have had loads of emails asking where is the best place to fish on Chesil for Plaice. Well you could do what Richard Lake did and head towards Ferrybridge, where he landed this Plaice, which was surprisingly plump and in great condition.
However you are far more likely to catch some Plaice at the other end of the beach with the following three marks my top tip for this weekend:
Abbotsbury: This is a very popular mark, partly due to the fact that you can use the walkway from the car park to access the shingle, which is ideal for those with walking difficulties. The downside is that the area close to the walkway is often busy.
You can head left from the car park towards the famous mark known as Dragons Teeth. It is an almost mile long walk to there, and one I would avoid in search of Plaice. It is a far better mark in the winter for Cod. However I have found that by heading left you are more likely to pick up a bonus Ray, as well as a Plaice.
If you head right and start walking towards the coastguard cottages, then you will be able to find some space to fish. There are no parking spaces along the road towards the cottages. The Plaice seem to prefer the clay patches early in the season. The goal is to try and find one of these patches and mark its exact position, so that the next time you come you wont waste as much time trying to locate them.
How do you find the clay patches in the fist place I hear you ask? You can do what I have done in the past, which is go looking for them with a lead. Cast the lead out with a rod and reel loaded with braid, so that you can feel the changes in the sea bed. As you slowly retrieve the lead, you can feel where it goes over the shingle, then when it sticks slightly, you know you have found some clay. I know it sounds like a lot of hassle, but as a guide, I want to know where I can take my clients, when my first, second and third choulce marks already have someone on them. As I have said in the past when you are Cod of Plaice fishing, on some days if you are 50yds. of a mark, you may as well be 50 miles away. This is particularly true on spring tides.
The other way to find them is to simply start fishing and hope that as the tide moves your lead around, it sticks on one of the clay patches. You will know if it does, as it is more difficult to get the lead of the bottom when you start to retrieve, and you often find clay residue on your lead.
West Bexington: Another very popular spot, that can be very busy at the start of the Plaice season. You often have to get there early unless you want a long walk. Parking is right next to the beach here, but as with Abbotsbury, the spaces close to the car park normally fill up first. I have found that you can find clay patches much closer to the shore at West Bexington, than any of the other marks.
Once again you can choose to go left or right. Heading left towards Abbotsbury and the end of the holiday Chalets gives slightly better mixed fishing, with a few marks that Bass seem to prefer. It is also better for Rays to the left.
Heading right, you can normally find evidence of the clay beds along the shoreline. These are good indicators as to where they lie a bit further out. I normally prefer to head to the right, as I have a couple of marks there that I often pick up Smoothound on. A top tip for heading to the right is keep to the back of the beach until you get to where you want to be. The ground is more compact and easier to walk on there.
Cogden: This is in my opinion the best of the three marks. The clay beds seem more prolific there, especially if you head right towards the Caravan park. However it is also the most difficult of them. You need to be able to hit a bait out a long way, but if you can then catches can be much better. The other downside to it is that there is a long walk to the beach, and an even longer struggle to get back up the hill at the end of your session. It is not a mark for the unfit, or those with walking difficulties.
Best baits: Everyone has their favourite baits, but there are a few that seem to stand out from the others. I love to fish with Peeler Crab when I can get them and afford them. Plaice love Peeler Crab, as do other, larger species. If I am using Peeler, then I always feel confident that I will pick up something a bit more sporting than a Plaice, and that for me would make my day.
Ragworm is normally my other must have bait when fishing for Plaice. I like to use large worms and often put two worms on and use a Pennel rig to keep them looking there best. I know most people associate Pennel Rigs with big baits, but they do keep Ragworms nice and straight and not all bunched up. Also Plaice are more likely to find a larger worm bait, than a couple of small single worms on a flapper.
Mussels make a good bait if you can get them. They can be a bit fiddly and messy to put on but they are what the Plaice are often feeding on. For those that have not read my article on how to use Mussels, I have included it at the bottom of the post.
I am going to try Razor Clams on my next trip. I spent all morning yesterday collecting some and making a video, on how to collect them and rig them. Unfortunately I have not had time to finish editing it yet, but I should do by the end of the weekend. Razor Clams are another bait that Plaice would naturally feed on close to the shore. They are quite tough, so they should stand up to the pressures from crabs and small fish a bit better than worm baits.
Whenever I use Ragworm, I often tip off with a sliver of squid. Not only does it release its own unique scent into the water, but it acts as a visual attractant, that wafts enticingly in the tide.
Rigs: I don’t have enough time in this article to discuss rigs in detail, as I am desperate to stop writing and get out catching some Plaice. However I can’t leave it out either. This is another subject that people have a high opinion on. I prefer to keep it simple and go for distance. A single clipped down rig with a size 1/0 hook, or even pennel hooks with no beads or sequins. If distance is not essential then I like to use a Wishbone Rig, or really bling up my rigs. There is another article coming on different ways to make your rigs more attractive and how they actually fish when on the sea bed.