British Marine Life Study Society

Photographs by  Andy Horton
 Common Name(s):
 Sea Bass 
 Scientific Name:
 Dicentrarchus labrax

 Family: Moronidae 
 Minimum Size:  41 cm 
 Specimen fish over 4.5 kg (10 lb)

            Photographs by  Andy Horton
Silvery streamlined fish with a pair of dorsal fins, the first spiny with 8 or 9 spines, and the second with the first ray spiny, followed by 12 or 13 soft rays. Medium-sized pectoral fins and slightly forked caudal fin. 

24 November 2007
The long standing UK shore caught Bass angling record (19 lb) was broken by a fish that weighed 8.95 kg (19 lb 11 oz 12 dr) caught by local angler Steve Cave at Sandown Pier, Isle of Wight. 

      British Angling Records: 
      Boat    8.88 kg (19 lb -09-02)  off Reculver, Herne Bay        P. McEwan      1987 
      Shore  8.62 kg (19 lb -00-00)  South Breakwater, Dover      D. L. Bourne    1988 
      World Angling Record: 
                 9.40 kg (20 lb -11-00)  Saintes Maries le Mer            J. B. Bayle        1986 
British Sea Fish Angling Records

Similar species in British seas:  Maigre Drumfish (extremely rare)
Spotted Bass, Dicentrarchus punctatus,(vagrant).

Breeding:  Offshore in spring. Larvae grow to about 6 mm after 10 days. 
Growth in first year up to 90 mm and second year up to 160 mm, less in captivity. This is much faster than the Grey Mullet, Chelon labrosus but slower than the Pollack, Pollachius pollachius

Nursery Areas
Fishing for bass from any vessel is prohibited in 34 separate areas for all or part of the year. The nursery areas comprise river estuaries, harbours etc. where juvenile bass usually predominate.The prohibition does not apply to fishing from the shore. 
4. Chichester Harbour       1 May -31 October
All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 192°  true from Eastoke Point to Chichester Bar Beacon, then 078°  true to Cakeham Tower.
5. Langstone Harbour       1 May -31 October
All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn 153°   true from the Gunnery Range Light at Eastney Point to Langstone Fairway Buoy (50° 46.25'N, 01°  01.27'W), then 033°  true to the foreshore east of Gunner Point.
6. Portsmouth Harbour      1 May -31 October
All tidal waters enclosed by a line drawn from Gilkicker Point to Southsea Castle.
Ref:  Bass: Nursery Areas and other Conservation Measures (MAFF 1990) 

Photograph by Luke RichardsVery young Bass (25 mm long)
'O' Group Bass captured during the Bass survey, Helford River 2/08/2007
Beach Seine
Bass Survey, Ruan Creek 12/07/2007

Photographs by Nigel Knight

Helford River Bass Survey pictures
Habitat: Open water, near rocks, shoals of  'School Bass' enter estuaries during the summer (in Sussex, they first appear in June) and autumn in southern England. The very large fish may be solitary. Juveniles venture far up estuaries into brackish water to below 3.0% salinity in summer. 
Food: Prawns, shrimps, crabs, small fish (e.g. Sand-eels). 
Small fish eat prawns and shrimps. Large fish prey on other fish like Pout Whiting and Poor Cod. 
Range:  NE Atlantic (Norway-Senegal), All British coasts (commoner in the south and west), Mediterranean, Black Sea. 
Additional Notes:
A pelagic, or open water, fish like the predatory Bass uses its greater speed to capture smaller fish and prawns. Its method of swimming is worth looking at closely in Public Aquaria. At the start of a burst the head seems to align at an angle and with a pronounced undulation of the caudal peduncle (body in front of the tail fin) and with two or more flicks of the tail fin, the fish swims strongly forward. At speed the other fins are clamped down, but as soon as it brakes the spiny dorsal fin rises to maintain stability. 

  •     ISBN 0-412-40090-1
Bass are subject to a restricted commercial fishery in the English Channel and off the south and west coasts of England and Wales. The largest fisheries are in France and Spain. Large quantities are also landed in Italy. 
Bass (Index to British Marine Fish /External)
Enemies:  Porbeagle Shark
Parasites: Lamprey
Young Bass in a Home Aquarium

Bass Fishery & Cetacean Bycatch, NE Atlantic
by Nicolas De Meulan Jouault (Article)


Early September 2013
A most extraordinary report of a Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis, was caught on rod and line off Dover Breakwater, Kent. This is an unusual report because this is a coastal anadromous fish native to the east American coast. 

Introductions of Morone saxatilis

"I looked at the photographs and it looks more like an unusual European Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, that is stripy and not a true Striped Bass, Morone saxatilis. The size and position of the eye coupled with the shape of the head and gill covers just looks more Dicentrarchus labrax."

"The mouth on the fish in the photo seems small, the structure of the head seems different and the location of the pectoral fin seems to be on the midline as opposed to below the midline on Striped Bass."

NB: I cannot discern the subtle differences, but my query is how did it cross the Atlantic? The stripes seem to indicate the Striped Bass

12 February 2006

Bass with a blunt head (Photograph by David Wilkinson)

Bass with a blunt head 
Photograph by David Wilkinson
(Technical Officer, Sea Fisheries, Commerce & Employment
Department, Guernsey)

This most extraordinary looking Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, was caught off the coast of Guernsey, tagged and returned to the sea. Its blunt head looks like that of the Pagrus Sea Bream and several other fish. This Bass weighed an estimated 4.5 kg. 

Report by David Wilkinson via Richard Lord (Guernsey)


14 February 2001
A huge Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, is caught in a trawl west of Guernsey. Its weight of 9.52 kg (21 lb 4 oz) would have exceeded the world angling record if it had been caught on rod and line. 

Report by from Andrew Syvret via Nicolas Jouault

February 2000

Pevensey Bay, Sussex: The estuary is back to normal again now, water levels are well up, higher than usual, and if the fine weather keeps up all will be well. The shoals of Bass were about yesterday again, mainly schoolies ranging from about 6" to 12" in size, with a smattering of much bigger fish in evidence. More

(Report by Richard Huggett.)  December 1999
A Bass of nearly 6 kg (13 lb) was caught from the shore near Eastbourne, East Sussex. (Report by Richard Huggett.)

25 August 1999
Bass of  7.144 kg (15 lb 12 oz) caught off Brighton by Niki Barker. A even larger Bass was seen by a diver around a wreck off Brighton in September 1999. 

(Len Nevell Sea Angling Reports) 22 September 1999
A Bass of about 8 kg was caught 4 miles off Littlehampton, West Sussex, by Matt Green. 

(Len Nevell Sea Angling Reports)
Summer 1999
Pair trawlers from Newhaven fish for Bass very close in shore off Shoreham-by-Sea on 3 occasions, on one occasion with two pairs (4 trawlers). And April 2000.
August 1998:
Large Bass continue to be taken from the shore and piers at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex. The latest weighed 6.35 kg (14 lb). 

12 January 1998:  At the confluence of East and West Looe rivers, Jon Makeham discovered 200 dead Bass, Dicentrarchus labrax. This marine fish enters estuaries during the summer and shoals of small fish sometimes remain throughout the winter. The cause of the deaths is unknown. The largest fish were 50 cm in length 

Summer 1999
Small bass up to 1 lb caught off Clevedon, NE England. 

6 August 2000
Large Bass, up to 2 kg, cruised into the entrance of Shoreham Harbour, (TQ 235 048) scattering the shoals of Sand Smelt, Atherina presbyter

Scottish Bass Report
Young Bass in the Adur Estuary 1999

Information wanted: Please send any records of this fish, with location, date, who discovered it, how it was identified, prevalence, common name and any other details to 

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