Bass, Ireland’s Top Inshore Sport fish
The bass (Dicentrachus Labrax) is a true sport fish highly prized by all sea anglers. A muscular bar of silver, exempt in Irish inshore waters from commercial exploitation since 1990 and protected by specific bye laws, bass can be targeted all along the east, south east, south, and south west coastline of Ireland from Co. Louth all the way around to Co. Clare. Very adaptable, bass can be found frequenting estuaries, mudflats, steep to shingle beaches, sandy surf beaches, rocky shores, headlands, and tide races that channel bait fish.
A supreme predator and opportunist feeder, bass have a varied diet, anything from worms and crustaceans, to fish and shellfish are all fair game. This in turn is what makes fishing for bass so interesting. Anglers can surf cast, lure fish with plugs and spoons, fly fish, and even live bait. The season kicks off in early March, particularly on the south coast, and extends through until usually November. Surprisingly, and probably due to the gulf stream, Co. Kerry can produce superb bass fishing in the depths of winter, with January and February particularly good months. A closed season is observed in Ireland between the 15th of May and the 15th of June as this is a key spawning time for bass. Anglers are also limited to two bass within any 24 hour period, with a size limit of forty centimeters. Catch and release is encouraged.
Bass angling is a varied and exciting form of fishing. Anglers throughout the world recognise and respect the species as a true sport fish. With diminishing sea fish stocks world wide, the decision to protect Irelands bass stocks is a positive decision that all Irish people can be proud of. Ireland is now being recognised as the premier European venue for a bass angling holiday. Tourist anglers choosing Ireland want a quality experience. To satisfy their needs professional guiding services have been established specialising in tuition, correct tackle, angling methods, and locations. A spin off is that the indigenous Irish angler can also avail of these services, and should. The costs involved, which are very reasonable, definitely pay off in terms of bass caught, and enhancement of the overall angling experience. A dedicated angling guide based in Co. Wexford is Jim Hendrick, who runs, SEAi (South East Angling Ireland).
SEAi, South East Angling Ireland.
Proprietor: Jim Hendrick.
7/8 St. Johns Road, Wexford.
Tel: 00353 (0)53 23351 Mobile: 00353 (0)87 905 5245
Jim is a total professional specialising in lure and fly fishing for bass. He is passionate and knows his brief, understanding the species and combining this with an intimate knowledge of marks and venues within Co. Wexford and beyond. Tuition in salt water fly fishing and lure fishing techniques also comes under his remit. There is probably no one in the country with more fly caught double figure bass to their name than Jim Hendrick. Give him a call.
Bass Fishing Tips
The following is a list of bullet points which hopefully will aid all bass anglers, whether indigenous or tourist, in their pursuit of bass.
- Study tides and their relationship with the moon. Bass activity usually increases in the period before a new and full moon.
- Establish at what stage of the tide the chosen venue fishes best.
- Rough rule of thumb, high tide in Dublin equates to low tide in Wexford.
- Bass tend to be more active at dawn and dusk.
- Natural bait should be fresh and of top quality. Establish bait digging and collecting locations and learn the correct methods for harvesting and storage.
- Lugworm are plentiful on Sandymount strand, Merrion strand, and Seapoint, all in south Dublin, and at the Burrow shore, north of Rosslare Strand, and the Cockle Strand, Bannow, Co. Wexford. Ragworm can be dug at Clontarf and Sutton, on Dublin’s north side, and again at the Burrow shore, Rosslare, Co. Wexford.
- Lugworm can be dug on the back strand behind Fermoyle, Brandon Bay, Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry.
- The east facing beaches of Wicklow and Wexford fish best when there is a good roll on the sea. A breeze from the south or south east creates ideal conditions. Fishing into darkness usually increases the chance of a bass.
- The south facing beaches of Co. Wexford tend to fish better from evening into darkness. Lugworm is the key bait.
- Co. Kerry can be particularly good for bass angling in January, February, and early March.
- When bait fishing rock and reef venues, pick settled weather. Ideally after a blow when the sea has settled down but still has a bit of colour in it.
- When bait fishing aim to cast no more than forty metres out. It is surprising how close in bass can be, sometimes no more than a rod length.
- Large fish and crab baits work well on rough ground venues. Try free lining a large bait close in.
- Single or twin hook paternosters baited with lugworm or crab are ideal for fishing clean ground venues.
- When lure or fly fishing there needs to be a good level of clarity in the water. Seek out rocky headlands, shallow weedy reefs, estuary mouths, and tide races.
- If new to the sport or unfamiliar with the area, hire a guide, it is money well spent.
The information provided above will increase the chances of catching bass not only in counties Wicklow and Wexford but anywhere along the Irish coastline that bass frequent. Please fish responsibly and leave venues tidy. Tight Lines.
Dedicated bass Fishing Books
- Hooked on Bass. Mike Ladle and Alan Vaughan, The Crowood Press, 1988.
- Fishing for Bass, Strategy and Confidence. Mike Thrussell, Blandford Press, 1989.
- Bass. Des Brennan. The Osprey Anglers Series, Osprey Publishing, 1974.
- Bass and B.A.S.S. Selected writings from the Bass Anglers Sportfishing Society. Anglers Bookcase 2008.
Books that strongly reference bass Angling
- The Sea Angler Afloat and Ashore. Des Brennan. A and C. Black, 1965.
- Salt Water Fishing in Ireland. Clive Gammon. Herbert Jenkins Ltd, 1966.
- A Sporting Angler. Mike Pritchard. William Collins and Sons, 1987.
- The Guinness Guide to Saltwater Angling. Brian Harris. Guinness Superlatives Ltd, 1977.
- The Angler in Ireland. Dr. Ken Whelan. Country House, 1989.
- Sea Angling with the Specimen Hunters. Hugh Stoker. Ernest Benn Ltd, 1977.
- Out of the Blue, On Fishing at Sea. Chris Yates. Hamish Hamilton, 2008.
Links to posts referencing bass angling:
- Co. Wexford a Shore Thing.
- Float fishing for bass with live sandeel.
- Estuary Bonus.
- Evening Bass and Smooth Hound Fishing.
- Bass Fishing in Ireland, Seasons Opener.
- South Wexford Bass and Mackerel.
- Autumn Bass on the Beach.
- Beara Bass.
- Bass Fishing in Ireland, School Days.
Irish bass Angling Websites.
- www.bassfishing.ie , South East Angling Ireland.
- www.irishbass.org , Irish Bass.
- www.probassfisher.com, Guided Bass Angling in Co. Wexford.
- www.jimhendrick.com, Thirty Yards (musings on bass lure and fly fishing).
Ashley Hayden © 2014