Primarily a winter target the humble Dab is proving to be a great species to switch to when the going gets tough. If you can find a Dab then you can normally locate lots of them, giving you plenty of them giving great sport throughout the day. There are high numbers found on the East coast North Sea marks, but are found around the whole coastline.
A great eating fish, although their sizes don’t go much above the 1lb mark. With the current record being 2lb 9oz. Usually a sandy brown colour, they have faintly coloured spots. The true give-away however is the rough skin and curved lateral line. Being sexually mature at only 2 years old, their numbers are thriving and can hold in huge numbers.
Lugworm is the favoured bait for decent Dab fishing, however the fish just isn’t that fussy. Usually the older the bait the better it seems to get, using the old ethos of the smellier the better.
To pick out the better fish, it is worth using something different and a fish bait might be the answer. This is particularly true when the fish are feeding heavily on whitebait and sprats.
The Dab conosoiur would frown on using peeler, but this can winkle out bonus fish if the going gets tough.
Two or Three hook flapper rigs will give off the best scent trail and welcome the numbers. Given the Dab’s feeding style it is obvious that the bait must be presented as near to the bottom as possible, anchoring down with shot if necessary.
Allowing the bait to waft through the water with a lighter lead can give you an edge by searching as much area as possible, so slack lines will aid bit detection as the bait is allowed to settle in the lower depths. Don’t be scared to add a touch of colour to either your bait with sequins or a change of lead colour.
If you are looking for some fun however, don’t rule out LRF fishing at close range, probably the best bait to use would be Isome worm.
As the Dab can chase baits, a grip style lead may not be required depending on the strength of the wash. The major factor which let people down is a poor choice of hook size. Nothing bigger than size 2’s should get the job done, but typically a size 4 or 6 Aberdeen pattern would be perfect.
Remember that the Dab’s frequent the shallows of the beach so massive beach casting techniques are not needed. Throwing a lead around the 50-60 mark may be too far with reports of large catches under 25 yards.
Using an exposed hook on a short 6-8inch snood is the way to go, but remember not be be scared of adding a flash of colour, like a bright green luminouse bead next to the hook. With regards to line breaking strains, it may be wise to fine things down to the 6lb mark, but 12-15lb should get the job done.
Dabs feed with sight and smell so using attractive baits will work wonders. During the day is best although large numbers have been known to come out after dark. If the weather is against you the light gear that you are using could prove tricky to present the bait effectively.
Spots to looking out for are the depressions in the light shingle or sand, where food would congregate. Given the species feeding patterns any rocky or semi-rough ground are a no-no and ones to be avoided.
So when you are up against it, why not change your habits and explore the possibilities of the dependable Dab.