The Dab Fish and Fishing Methods
The dab (Limanda limanda) is one of the smallest flatfish. It is usually a lightish sandy colour on the back but can best be told from other finny Taffies’ by the lateral line which curves sharply upwards above the pectoral fin. The scales on the back feel rough to the touch; on the underside, they are smooth.
The dab lives over sandy ground foraging for marine scraps, worms, crustacea, and so on. It is found inshore all the year round but not so often in deep winter. Large numbers are caught from piers at the various seaside resorts ranging from Blackpool southwards. They are also taken from many beaches on the south-coast of the Bristol Channel. Normally they are in their best condition during the autumn period, September to November. As a rule those taken from the shore run up to about 350 g (1 lb) with the occasional bigger specimen.
Tackle and Fishing Methods
Dabs are usually fished for with a light three-hookon the bottom. Baits include ragworm, lugworm, mussel, and shrimp. I have seen them taken on a piece of sprat. The dab is a fish that often takes the bait well down, hooking itself in the process. Hooks should be of fine wire and long-shanked. Anglers who regularly fish for dabs state that the bait should not be left stationary but should be moved a yard or so at intervals. Dabs are taken in number at times in what is known as a skim net. This is a triangular net on a frame, usually 3.3 m (11 ft) across the mouth. It is worked in the sea from about 30 cm (1 ft) or so of water to the last 15 cm (6 ins). Catches in excess of 9 kg (20 lb) of dabs and other flatfish are made at times.
The south coast from Hastings to the Isle of Wight has produced several dab over 1 kg (2 lb).