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Two fine bass. Copyright Jim Hendrick,Bass Fishing Ireland’s East and South East Region

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, Eastern Region

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.

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 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. A dedicated angling guide based in Co. Wexford is Jim Hendrick, who runs, SEAi (South East Angling Ireland).

SEAi, South East Angling Ireland
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 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.

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

Books that strongly reference Bass Angling

Irish Bass Angling Websites

Sea Fishing Bye Laws

  1. It is prohibited to take and kill or have in possession any bass of less than 40cm in length
  2. It is prohibited to take and kill or have in possession more than 2 bass in any period of 24 hours
  3. It is prohibited to fish for bass with any rod and line during the period commencing on the 15th May to the 15th June.

Copy provided by Norman Dunlop, Sea Angling Advisor, Central Fisheries Board and Ashley Hayden, Marketing Coordinator, Eastern Regional Fisheries Board.

Photographic images courtesy of Ashley Hayden and Jim Hendrick.
ERFB 2008 ©

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