Fishing for sea bass is a challenging and exciting sport. But you will need patience and determination before you eventually bag one but the rewards are something that only a hard-bitten angler will understand.
And sea bass frequent our shores on our doorstep on the Down coastline so you don’t have to drive to Kerry or Cork or or Wexford or even the Channel Islands to experience a tug on your line from one of these silver bullets. They are also there all year round, including the winter months, so planning a winter fishing trip is a great way to spread your fishing fun over the year.
Bass are not now really abundant due to heavy commercial fishing in the sixties around the Irish coast, but there is a sizeable stock from Greenore in County Louth and around the Carlingford Estuary up the coast in patches to the Foyle estuary, and the sandy stretches at Benone Strand are also good hunting ground for them. They are sensitive to pollution so you won’t likely see them near Belfast Lough and places where there is a sewage outfall into the sea. Bass have been caught between Kilkeel and Annalong and a few around St John’s point.
Probably the easiest way to catch a bass would be fishing with ragworm close to the shore, but they can be caught with poppers on a fly rod or fly fishing on a floating line or intermediate sinking line with white flies emulating small fry. For fly fishing, use an 8-pound trace. And they will take spoons and spinners using 9-feet spinning rods and a 10-15lb line.
Bass tend to enjoy skulking around in heavy weed so this form of angling is exciting and quick fire, but expect to lose terminal tackle if fishing near weed or rocks, it’s par for the course. And best not to fish in strong sunlight especially in the middle of the day as bass prefer lower light conditions mostly. They can be caught on squid strips, lugworm, ragworm, sandeel and peeler crab.
Different areas will fish better with specific techniques and it is often a question of sucking it and seeing if that is the right technique on the day. But surf fishing is exciting, as you wade out closer to the breakers and castle out to the third wave and test the waters with your bait, spoon or spinner.
In summer months you may even hook up a pollack or even a sea trout, but make sure you have a game fishing licence or you could be in trouble with the bailiff with the sea trout.
And in shore fishing, observe the safety rules:
* wear a lifebelt (there are some good slimline ones on the market), carry a mobile phone and a whistle.
* don’t walk onto mudflats.
* tell somewhere where you will be fishing and better still, fish with another angler.
* carry a small first aid kit and a pair of pliers in case you have to extract a hook!
* wear protective glasses if fly fishing as bass flies and much larger than fresh water flies.
* don’t wade out too far, and even use a wading stick to check the depths and where hidden ledges are.
* and lastly, check the weather and tides, and don’t get caught out in changing tides and bad weather and swells.