An Irish Anglers World

Bass Fishing

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.

Early morning surface lure caught bass.

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 one bass within any 24 hour period, with a size limit of forty centimeters. Catch and release is encouraged.

Diego Leccardi with a fine bass tempted by a surface lure.

Guiding Services

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 political/legislative decision post 1990 to protect Ireland’s bass stocks was a positive decision that all Irish people can be proud of. Ireland became recognised as the premier European venue for a bass angling holidays.

Tourist anglers choosing Ireland wanted a quality experience. To satisfy their needs professional guiding services became established specialising in tuition, correct tackle, angling methods, and locations. A spin off was that the indigenous Irish angler could also avail of these services, and still does. 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 was Jim Hendrick, arguably the best in the country, for 12 years Jim ran, SEAi (South East Angling Ireland). Sadly due to again declining coastal bass stocks, the result of a spring fishery targeting aggregating spawning bass in the lower English channel, Jim closed his business in 2014 and no longer provides his service.

Bass angling guide Jim Hendrick cradles a double figure fly caught bass.

SEAi, South East Angling Ireland.
Proprietor: Jim Hendrick.

On the positive side Jim still maintains a wonderful coastal blog, “Thirty Yards” and has archived his bass guiding website so that one can still access a great historical record of coastal bass fishing in south east Ireland.


Jim was and still is a total professional specialising in lure and fly fishing for bass. He is passionate about his sport 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 came under his remit. There is probably no one in the country with more fly caught double figure bass to their name than Jim Hendrick.

Releasing a surface lure caught bass.

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.

Sea bass lures.

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.

Jonathan Dukes cradles a fine surface lure caught bass.

Links to posts referencing bass angling:

Irish bass Angling Websites.

Ashley Hayden © 2014