Plaice are fairly distinctive and can only really be confused with dabs and flounders. Plaice though have a series of 4 to 7 bony knobs running rearwards from the eyes towards the pectoral fin. These are absent on both flounders and dabs. Plaice also have vivid spots, usually pale to bright orange, but flounder can also occasionally show faint spots on the back, so this is not a reliable method of visual identification.
Their colouring is usually light to mid brown with the vivid orange spots, but occasionally greyish when living over gravel and shingle. The belly is pearl white, sometimes with dark blotches.
The UK and Irish season is typically from mid to late February when the plaice return inshore after spawning, right through to November, but the plaice are in prime condition from June onwards. The biggest plaice tend to show in August and September, generally speaking. Smaller plaice can be caught all year round.
They favour offshore sandbanks and can be found resting on the inclines of the banks, typically at the base and in the middle of the rise, but occasionally on the top of the bank. They prefer sand, or a mixture of sand and shingle, but will also live over fine shingle and shell grit, also seed mussel beds. The most famous sand banks for plaice are The Skerries off Dartmouth and The Shambles off Weymouth, both marks that produce large numbers of big plaice.
They eat a varied diet including brittle stars, worms, crabs and shellfish such as razorfish and mussels. They are also adept at nipping the siphons off sand clams poking out of the sand. Plaice are formidable predators and will eat sandeels, and also have been found with sprats and gobies inside their stomachsPlaice can be caught on all sizes of tides, but often offshore the smaller neap tides produce the better fishing as the drift of the boat will be slower and the presentation of the bait to the fish better with the fish able to catch the bait up more easily and pounce on it as it passes by.
It pays to fish light for plaice as the bites can sometimes be delicate, plus light tackle maximises the fun with the smaller fish.
A 6lb to 12lb class rod matched to a small multiplier such as the ABU 5500C or the Abu Revo Toro 50 loaded with 10lb braid and a 12lb Fluorocarbon leader make a great combo. Some anglers prefer a light 8ft spinning rod such as an ABU Soron or Shimano or Daiwa 4000 sized equivalent, again loaded with light braid. This type of outfit maximises bite detection.