Game Fishing > Bottom Saltwater Fish types > Plaice


PlaiceNo seafish is so popular or so well known as this; it is called by a variety of names, which are often confounded with other species. In some localities it is called plaice, summer flounder or turbot flounder; whereas the flounder is known as the flatfish and winter flounder. The two can be easily distinguished by the plaice having a large mouth, and the flounder a very small one.

Next to the halibut, the plaice is the most important and valuable flatfish on the Eastern coast. It averages in size from two to eight pounds, though specimens have been caught up to twenty-five pounds. It corresponds with two highly prized, but somewhat rare fish caught on the English coast, known as the turbot and the brill. Like, others of their species, the plaice habitually lie upon the bottom, where their peculiar shape and color protect them from observation, and also give them an excellent opportunity to capture their prey.

They are found mostly in bays, where the bottom is muddy and grassy, and in shoal water, along sandy reaches of the coast and bays. Plaice may be taken from the early part of June till October. In Florida they are taken throughout the year, most pentifully in the summer months. They feed on small fish, shrimps, crabs, squid, and are frequently seen at the surface of the water, rapidly swimming and even jumping above the surface in pursuit of sand eels and sand smelts.

Favorite fishing grounds are on sandy bottoms at a depth of eight or ten fathoms, or in channels near the sides, and they can be taken either from a boat at anchor, or one that drifts slowly along with the tide. The method is to fish with one hook six inches from the bottom, and another hook two feet above it, tied on a strong three­foot leader; use a sinker just heavy enough to hold to the bottom, with live killies for bait, though herring, spearing, and mossbunker will do; if no live bait is available small strips of snapper, or porgy, cut in the shape of a fish will often be a taking bait. Hook the killie by inserting the point into the back, near the dorsal fin; then pass it along under the skin toward the tail as far as the bend of the hook will permit; then, again push it through the skin to clear the barb.

Drifting is the method for fluke. When the bait rig is out, and is being trailed along, its distance from the boat should be at least six times that of the depth of the water where fishing. When still fishing the killie can swim about as if entirely free. The most successful rig for local waters is a leader four feet long, fastened a few inches above the sinker, a No. 5/0 Kirby-Limerick hook tied to the end of the leader, and another a foot from it.

In drifting, the long eel grass and sea-weed will collect on the line, leaving the bait on and near the end of the long leader clear. In using these long leaders, do not allow the lead to go to the bottom too fast, because the leader will go down parallel with the line and become entangled. Use heavy sinkers according to the thickness of the line. When the fish takes the bait, the strike should be followed up with a gentle jerk of sufficient force to embed the hook firmly and to rouse the fish into action.

The advantages of fishing for plaice are these: they can be fished for at any time of day or night; no waiting for tides and certain kinds of weather; they are hungry all the time, and always willing to take what is offered to them.

They have a rugged and powerful mode of resistance, especially the larger fish, which often succeed in getting off the hook or breaking the tackle, for they fight all the way till taken from the water. If cooked when fresh they are exceeding good eating, the flesh being white, juicy, and of good flavor. When filleted they make an excellent substitute for the famous English sole.