Bass caught in a beach seine in the Lower Shannon estuary, 2008.

Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

The European sea bass is found along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea and northwestern Europe, and it is relatively common off the coast of Ireland. Bass were once commercially fished in Irish waters until the stock collapsed in the 1990s. Since then, they have been conserved and managed solely for recreational angling in Ireland, with strict by-laws limiting the numbers and sizes permitted for capture.

Bass breed from late spring to early summer in inshore waters, where their eggs float freely until they hatch. The young fish grow quickly close to the coast before the onset of winter, when they migrate seawards with older fish. Bass gather in schools when young but tend to live alone as adults. In the summer, adults move inshore, travelling into estuaries and sometimes into freshwater. In the winter, they move into deeper, warmer offshore waters.

Bass are active predators that hunt fish, squid and crustaceans over rocky ground and in surf along the shoreline, often in quite shallow water. A silvery grey colour with a strong, spiky dorsal fin, bass are long-lived fish and can survive to 20 years of age. 

All assistance with the National Bass Programme would be greatly appreciated. Anglers are asked to please report any tagged bass they catch using the contact details below. Bass anglers can also help the National Bass Programme by collecting scale samples using a kit provided by IFI. For further details, please contact us:


Telephone: 01 884 2600

Juvenile bass caught in a beach seine near New Ross on the Barrow-Nore Estuary, 2013.

Bass with a floy tag attached to its back. New Ross Port 2016.