How to catch Plaice, flounders,Dabs & Sole

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How to catch Plaice, flounders,Dabs & Sole
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A  guide for catching Flatfish from the shore.

Hi there, the following information is a guide to help you catch flaties around the coast of the UK. First a bit about me, but dont worry i will keep it brief. I was born in Brighton and have lived there most of my life. I fell in love with fishing from an early age and have fished for some 25 ish years. I mainly fish harbours and beaches now but also have a fair bit of knowledge with boat angling. The majority of people who go fishing are friendly people, and  chatting to others is the best way to learn about how to fish in your area.   I have opened up a small shop on ebay called bits&bobs4sale. I am doing this for a bit of extra cash of course, but also because i enjoy making up good rigs that work and that will help people enjoy this sport as much as i do.




 Flounders are the most common of flatfish around the uk. The reason is there ability to live in all types of waters. A easy way to identify them is to run a finger over the area behind its eyes, it will be rough and scaly unlike the plaice. Flounders spawn in the sea during late winter and join into large shoals for this reason. Immature flounders start there early days in fresh water, once thay begin to mature the move into salt water and rarely return. They can be caught all year round but the winter months bring larger amounts especially in the English channel.

The best time to catch them is after a gale this is when they invade storm beaches looking for shellfish that have been ripped from there shells. The best bait to use for this time  is razorfish & cockles. At other times the best general baits are peeler crab,white rag & red rag. Flounders are nosy fish so luminous beads are always worth adding to your traces Flounder spoons are good when fishing on sheltered beaches or harbours & piers. Rag worms are best used when the water is clear. Hook the worm leaving the tale end free to wiggle about in the water. The way they bite varies,from small nibbles to fast bending runs. It is best not to strike when they bite but just let the hook do the job in its own time.

Best method i think is to use a large piece of peeler crab (juicy). Cast a long distance out and then every couple of minutes just give you reel one turn of the handle. This will disturb the sea bed and the nosy flatfish will be drawn to it.

Flounder spoon with beads & Aberdeen hook.



Plaice:-   Plaice are the most common flatfish that you will catch when shore fishing. The numbers have greatly gone down in the last 10 years, The average size for shore fishing is about 1 lb but they can be caught upto 4 lb. Plaice are easy to identify by there large red/orange spots. They have a series of horny knobs on the top of the heads & the back of the plaice is smooth unlike the other two. Spawning is the same as the flounder. Plaice are the only flatfish that rarely feed at night but some of the better catches will be at dusk. They can be caught all through the summer but are in poor condition early in the year due to spawning.  The baits to use are Peeler crab, lugworm, King rag, Harbour rag, & mussels. You can catch them by using a flowing trace with beads or a paternoster. Hook sizes vary depending on the baits you are going to use, but Aberdeen Hooks are the ideal type as they are very sharp.


Dabs are one of the smallest of the flatfish family, A 1 lb dab is a good size. You can catch them around harbours, piers & steep shingle beaches that have a sandy bottom. You can catch them all around the UK. The larger ones are caught in the autumn & spring but you can catch them all year round. They are easy to identify by there sandy colour, they are much lighter than the other flatfish in this guide. They have specks of orange and yellow in there skin but these are much smaller marks than plaice. The common bait to use are lug worm or black lug. I find that stale black lug is the best for dabs. In the summer peeled peeler crab legs is also a great bait this is also a could method when there are lots of crabs about stealing all your worms. Tackle is a 2 or 3 hook paternoster with size 2 hooks or a simple flowing trace.


There are 4 types of soles but the most regular is the dover sole. The dover sole is the biggest and is tongue shaped. sole are common in the English channel but are also caught in the Irish & North Sea. Summer and early autumn are the best times to catch them but it does vary on your area. They feed mainly at night and close to the shoreline. If you catch one there are often many more in the same area. Best bait is black lug on a flowing trace with small hooks 4 - 6. There main feeding time is 2 hours after dusk or 2 hours before dawn. They bury themself in the sand when the tide is running strongly and swim out to face the other way as the tide turns. This is also a good time to catch them.


I hope you have found this guide useful. Please tick the box at the bottom of the page if it was useful to you. I have also wrote 2 other guides, one on cod fishing and one on bass.

Please have a look in my shop for a wide selection of well made rigs.

This is a link to my shop 

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