British Wildlife Wiki
Basslet on size 16 Pheasant Tail

Tiny bass, showing spots

Bass 13-2

Bass, 13 lbs, Isle of Wight

Bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) can grow to around 60cm long. The term "Sea Bass" is a recent

12-8 Bass

12 lb Bass, Isle of Wight

one used by fishmongers, restauranteurs, pretentitious food writers in the Sunday supplements, and alas, increasingly by the general public.


This fish has an elongated and streamlined body, with two separately spaced dorsal fins. The first, or anterior dorsal fin, is composed of 8 to 9 membrane bound bony spines. The second dorsal fin has a leading spine, followed by 12 to 13 soft branched rays. The anal fin has 3 leading spines and 10 to 12 soft branched rays. The anal fin is set slightly back from the front of the second dorsal fin, which it sits beneath. The pectoral fins are positioned ahead of the pelvic fins, which are located at the anterior portion of the belly. The head is slightly enlarged, with a large wide mouth, although the eyes are relatively small in relation to head length. Opercular and preopercular bones have spines. Body and head are covered in large scales.Back is a bluish grey that blends into the metallic silver grey of the sides, and silver/greyish white of the belly. the gill cover has a darkish blotch towards it's posterior margin. Juvenile fish often show a number of dark spots and speckles (see picture)


Spawns inshore during March through to June. The juveniles are pelagic, but rapidly enter estuaries, where they remain for the first few years. Growth rates are slow, with lengths of 9cm in the first year for the female, then to 16cm in the second, and almost five years for a female bass to reach 32 to 36cm, when they are sexually mature. A female bass of 10lb maybe 16 to 20 years old. The males grow more slowly, and don't live as long as the females.


Schooling predatory fish, associated with warm coastal waters, reefs, estuaries, as well as, over sand and mud, down to depths of 100m.Larger fish tend to be more solitary, than the smaller school bass of 4lb or less. Inshore migration during March through to may, often into brackish water.


Tends to be a surface water predator, feeding on a wide range of other fish, such as sandeels, herring, sprat, pouting, etc., along with a variety of crustaceans such as crab and shrimp. Tend to hunt in disturbed water i.e. breakers and close to rock faces.


Found throughout the waters of the U.K., although most numerous in the South and West.

Additional Notes[]

Commercially trawled. Good eating - although bass anglers now tend to only keep medium-sized bass around the three to four pound size. Small bass are returned to grow larger, big bass (as in the pictures above), are valuable breeding stock, so these too are carefully returned.




The Aquarium Project