European Sea Bass - Dicentrarchus Labrax
Latin: Dicentrarchus Labrax
English: European Sea Bass, Sea Dace
French: Bar Europeen
Italian: Spigola, Branzino, Ragno
Croatian: Lubin, Brancin, Smudut, Vuk
About: European Sea Bass is one of the most valued fishes in recreational fishing - very tricky and cunning predator which can be found in the waters in and around Europe, including the eastern Atlantic Ocean (from Norway to Senegal), the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.
It's appearance - big and strong jaws, powerful body and strong tail fin - reveals it's predatory nature. With maximum length of around 1m (3 feet 4 inches) and weight of some 14-15kg, it can put up some really nice fight :) On average, it weigh around 0.5kg (around 1.1 pounds).
Body color changes - back's dark grey changes into grey-silver color on sides with white-silverish color on the bottom.
Spawning occurs in late autumn and early winter.
Habitat: European Sea Bass can be found in estuaries, lagoons and coastal waters. It can be found even in some rivers, although it is not going far away from the sea - likes the brackish waters.
It doesn't like deep waters - it can be found literally from shallows (chasing mullets and similar fishes) to depths up to 20m - most of the time, it roams between 2 and 10m.
It likes areas with small fish, prawns/shrimps, worms and other species that can often be found on it's menu - it prefers rocky and grass bottoms, but it is not very picky :)
Fishing period: It can be caught all year long, but best in the autumn, especially after the rain and during light breeze.
Fishing rigs and tackle: Various fishing techniques can be used: trolling, longline, fishing traps, nets, spearguns, rods etc. Size of the hooks and strength of the lines depend on the fish size - when hooked, European Sea Bass will do anything to get rid of the hook - hit the rocks, hit the bottom of the boat, swim into various obstacles (grass, branches ...) etc. So, when you hook one of these, constantly pull the line in, toward prepared hand net.
Best baits are live ones: prawns/shrimps hooked by the tail to 'jump' around and provoke a strike, small mullets or similar small fishes, but also whole sardines (or chunks of them), squids, worms and similar. For trolling, various live baits can be used (best ones are locally caught small fishes and/or prawns) - reduce trolling speed when trolling with live bait - but also different lures. Dried and salted fish skin, especially weever skin, is great lure for all predatory species in both shallows and in open waters ...
Note: when caught, gut it immediately and check the content of it's stomach to verify what it has been eating lately. If you find remains of prawns, try to get few of them alive and start trolling in shallows. If you find, for example, small mullet(s), use chunks or whole sardines - or, catch few small, but really small mullets and then troll around schools of mullets. Sometimes, throwing few slices of bread into the sea attracts small fish and their feeding attracts larger predators like this one ... When predator arrives, small fish will run away, very often jumping out of the sea - be sure to have your bait or lure around.
On photo: European Sea Bass, after gutting and cleaning, weighing little less than 600g (around 1.3 pounds) - scale was nulled with plate on :) , caught on rod, trolling in shallows using dried weever skin.
European Sea Bass on fish market.
Photo by N.M.
Cuisine: Wild examples are delicacy prepared in every possible way - cooked, boiled, fried, barbequed, as part of fish stew etc. Meat is white, tender, soft - always add few drops of lemon and virgin olive oil, to improve taste even further.
Farmed European Sea Bass doesn't taste as good as wild one!