Sea Fishing - No Plaice Like Home
The FishActive crew took to the high seas to go wrecking for cod and pollack but a last minute change saw them staying inshore and fishing along the Sussex coast
This feature was first published on FishingMagic's sister site FishActive
Anticipation had been running high for a couple of weeks in the office as we looked forward to a chance to head out of Newhaven on the Ocean Warrior III owned and skippered by Dave Elliot. The plan had been to go out wreck fishing for some large cod and pollack but as has been the case with many fishing trips this year, the unsettled weather called for a last-minute change of plan by the skipper as we arrived at the boat ready for the 8am departure.
Instead of taking the long ride out into the English Channel, we turned right out of Newhaven harbour (that's "plotted a course west/south west" for you regular seafaring types) and headed along the Sussex coast towards Brighton, following the long line of white chalk cliffs that characterise our part of the coastline.
We eventually came to a halt a little beyond Brighton marina and around 2 or 3 miles out with a grand view of the town and Roedean college perched up on the cliffs as the initial murky haze cleared around midday. We had set up simple bottom rigs consisting of running ledgers with size 1 longshank hooks which we threaded with lugworm and tipped with a squid strip to target the bottom dwellers which as we quickly found out consisted of mainly saucer-sized plaice, many of which were still so small they were practically transparent when held up to the light. Not quite what we were looking for so we moved on.
We drifted another couple of nearby marks for much of the same with an occasionally larger plaice starting to show up to around the dinner plate size. At the same time, one of our crew who had not done much sea fishing before was rigged up with some feathers as we had picked up a mackerel or two that had picked up the baits as they were wound back to the surface. This was the beginning of almost non-stop action on the mackerel with a range of sizes from keepers to small joeys and with some full strings of 4 and 5 fish coming up fairly regularly. We did try drifting a small joey mackerel along the bottom in the hope of a bass but with no luck.
A move back towards Peacehaven in the afternoon finally saw us all starting to pick up slightly better sized plaice with some frying-pan sized keepers for the fish box to join the mackerel already in residence. The usual bite was plenty of small taps as the fish chewed on the ends of the lugworms or squid and it was hard to decide when to strike but I started to try dropping the bait back a little as a bite started to let the fish grab hold and then wind into it followed by a strike which seemed to increase my hookup percentage in the afternoon. What was quite amazing was how disproportionately larger some of the fish felt as we wound them up to how small they actually were when they reached the surface. They obviously use their flat shape to good avantage using the water resistance to try and evade capture.
One bite though was to prove very different to the rest for yours truly. It started off much the same as the rest but once the hook was driven home the fish put up a much more spirited battle by far than all those before it and it was obviously this time of real size, putting a good bend in the tip of my 20lb class outfit with plenty of good headshakes. The mate appeared with the net just as a (compared to the rest) huge plaice came into view out of the depths. A quick scoop and it was on the deck next to me - the biggest plaice I had ever seen and one of my lifelong fishing dreams realised. It weighed in at 3lb's on the scales so I can't imagine what the 5lb fish that would have been around a little earlier in the year would have looked like.
We carried on for a while longer with a few more drifts in the same area and more keeper plaice came on board while the smaller fish of the morning seemed to have mainly disappeared thankfully. I continued to fish also but perhaps not quite as attentively as before. My day had been made already and so I soaked up the sun and the view and took pleasure in watching a few gannets diving on some baitfish - one of my favourite sea birds before the call came to wind in and we started the short trip back along the coast to Newhaven and home.
By the Same Author
- Review - Climatec Sports Gloves from MacWet
- Sea Fishing - No Plaice Like Home
- Coarse and Match Channel
- New Salmon Books Arrive in the UK
- Would you fish for "caged" tuna
- Get your favourite fishing forums on your phone!
- Where to Fish 2011 - Now on Kindle!
- Be the village hero - in Laos!
- Free fishing video from OnlineFishing.tv!
- The fish that bites back!