(Solea Solea)

The Dover Sole is one of the flatfish family and the name Dover derives from the days when the sole was transported from the Kent coast to the London restaurants. Sometimes also called tongues due to their resemblance to an animal's tongue, the Dover sole is of a pale-brown colour with darker patches and widespread speckling across its top side. They do not grow to a large size, and a sole of 2 lb (0.91 kg) is regarded as a fine specimen. Like other flat fish, their eyes are mounted close together on the right or upper side of the body. The underside or belly is pure white. For quick identification there is a dark spot located on the tip of the right pectoral fin. Sole have a very small mouth, so it is essential if targeting this fish to use a small hook and bait. The entire body, with the exception of the underside of the head, is coated with small scales, giving the Dover sole a rough texture to its skin while its cousin the lemon sole is smooth to touch and has larger blotches on the back.

Where To Find Them

Spread throughout the English Channel, west coast of Ireland and the Irish Sea, scarcer in the north of Scotland. Spawning usually takes place between the months of March and May over inshore marks in warmer water. When the colder weather arrives the sole moves back out to deeper water and in extremely low temperatures becomes almost comatose. Dover sole like gravel and sandy sea beds, burying themselves under the surface of the sand to make themselves less conspicuous to predators.

When To Find Them

April through to the end of September. The town beach at Aldeburgh in Suffolk is a recognised reliable sole producer.

Natural Food and Best Baits

Crustaceans, molluscs, sandeels, worms and small fishes. Lugworm and Ragworm perhaps work best for anglers.

Tips and Tactics

Fish with small hooks and very small pieces of ragworm or lugworm. Let bites develop. Sole have small mouths, and it takes time for them to reach the hook, even when baits are small.

UK Records

Shore: 6lb 8oz

Boat: 4lb 1oz