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 the way along the east and south east coasts from Co. Louth to Co. Wexford. Estuaries, mudflats, steep to shingle beaches, sandy surf beaches, rocky shores, and headlands, tide races that channel bait fish, are all areas where Bass can be found.
The last twenty years have seen a vast improvement in Bass numbers, and this is particularly apparent within the eastern region. There are localized pockets of Bass along the coast north of Dublin, with the Boyne estuary mouth a particular hot spot. Bass fishing in the greater Dublin area itself can be surprising, both in the quality and quantity of catches. Urban Bass are a real prospect. South of Dublin though is where Bass country really begins. The coastline of Counties Wicklow and Wexford offers superb opportunities to catch this hard fighting species.
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. A close season is observed 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 Locations, East coast
Starting in the north of the region and working south. The River Boyne Estuary offers both boat and shore fishing for Bass at Baltray on the northern side, and Mornington on the southern shore. There is a slipway at Baltray for launching small boats but this is not viable at low tide. The estuary mouth is a popular Bass angling location during the summer months and free lined sandeel is a traditional and very successful method for taking fish there. Legered crab has also accounted for specimen Bass to over 11lbs (5kg) in recent years. Various types of plug such as the “Tormentor”, “Crystal Minnow”, and “X-Rap” are all capable of producing fish in the right conditions, while fly fishing too is gaining a dedicated band of followers and has proven very successful on dawn or dusk tides. The best period is the last hour of the ebb and first two hours of the flooding tide.
Bass turn up spasmodically on all the beaches north and south of Dublin and in the large estuaries at Rogerstown, Malahide and River Liffey. Specimen fish can appear almost anywhere, with evening tides in autumn, offering best possibilities.
The Wicklow beaches at Greystones, Kilcoole, Silver Strand, Brittas Bay, and Ennereilly, are well worth visiting in spring or autumn after easterly winds have pushed up a surf. Bass will feed freely in these conditions particularly on the first few hours of a flooding tide with crab, ragworm and lugworm being the best baits. On all these beaches baits fished within forty metres of the shore are the key to success.
The stretch of east facing coast from Kilmichael Point, south of Arklow, Co. Wicklow, to Raven Point in Co. Wexford offers good Bass fishing possibilities from April through to October when crab baits will out fish virtually everything else. Hotspots are Clogga, Clones, Ballinoulart, Morriscastle, Tinnabearna and Ballynamona. Evening tides into darkness are generally most productive. Plug fishing, working surface lures, and spinning around the various headlands and points south of Arklow, Co. Wicklow, can on occasions give superlative sport, while fly fishing is becoming popular also.
Every year Wexford Harbour, which is a nursery area for juvenile Bass, produces good catches of fish. Much of the season is dominated by undersize fish but larger Bass enter the harbour in autumn. It is then that the elusive “double” is liable to turn up. Crab and Ragworm are the best baits here.
Bass fishing is best during spring and autumn on all the southern Wexford beaches, particularly Rosslare Strand, Ballytrent, Carnsore, the “Coombe”, and Rostoonstown where lugworm is the favoured local bait, but fish will also take crab, sandeel and mackerel strip.
The south facing Wexford beaches such as the Coombe and Rostoonstown are steep shingle beaches with a depth of water close in, and are subject to a lateral tidal current. Bass are generally caught close in, i.e. within forty metres. Any wind with south in it tends to push in floating weed which makes shore angling difficult. In these conditions it is better to fish the east facing beaches.
Boat fishing in the tide races at the Splaugh Reef, below Rosslare ferry port and around the Saltee Islands, off Kilmore Quay is very popular with Bass anglers and there is a good average size of fish at both sites. Live baiting with launce or “Joey” mackerel is a deadly method, while plug fishing and spinning with shad type lures can also provide excellent sport.
To the east of Kilmore Quay is a south facing finger of rock known as Forlorn Point. Bottom fishing and spinning from there can be excellent at times with fish of over 12 lbs (5.5kg) recorded. The Burrow Strand extends west from Kilmore Quay and fishes best for Bass on evening tides. Lugworm is the key bait along this stretch. Where the beach terminates at the entrance to Ballyteigue Lough is an excellent Bass holding area. Spinning and fly fishing can be carried out here with great success in spring and early summer. While crab baits attract occasional double figure fish.
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 by Minister Eamonn Ryan, TD to strengthen the bass conservation legislation is one that all Irish stakeholders can be proud of. Ireland is now being recognised as the premier 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.
Hardy/Greys approved guide and an IFFF Qualified Fly Casting Instructor – bass lure and fly fishing guide in the Waterford area.
Jason has a lifetime of experience in fishing and guiding on the rivers, lakes and coastline in the area. Jason has given talks on fishing techniques at the leading angling shows in Ireland. Game Fishing Ireland offers guided packages for saltwater game species.
Address: Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.
Telephone: +353 (0) 87 296 5712
Bass Fishing Wexford
Sean Jordan is a saltwater angling guide who works the Wexford coast, both on, + off-shore with lure, Fly, + sometimes live-bait. Sean provides a fully insured, first class professional guiding service, with decades of experience targeting Bass, Sea-Trout, + Mullet in Wexford. Fully equipped with all tackle needed, and a choice of craft to suit either estuary, or off-shore Fly, + Lure work for your sessions. Plus many bespoke lunch, + accommodation options for your session, or stay which will be based in a vibrant coastal community with all amenities on hand.
Bass Fishing Tips for the Eastern Region
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.
- Within the eastern region lugworm are plentiful on Sandymount strand, Merrion strand, and Seapoint, all in south Dublin, and at the Burrow shore, Rosslare, Co. Wexford. Ragworm can be dug at Clontarf and Sutton, on Dublin’s north side, and again at the Burrow shore, Rosslare, Co. Wexford.
- 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.
- 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 within Ireland’s eastern region. 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.
Irish Bass Angling Websites
- www.bassfishing.ie , South East Angling Ireland.
- www.irishbass.org , Irish Bass.
- www.bassfishingireland.com , Bellavista Angling Services.
- www.iol.ie/~bobmoss , Bob Moss angling writer and author.