Gilthead Seabream - Sparus Aurata


Latin: Sparus Aurata

English: Gilthead Seabream, Gilt-head bream

German: Goldbrasse, Dorade

French: Daurade, dorade

Italian: Orata

Spanish: La Dorada

Croatian: Orada, komarča, lovrata, podlanica, dinigla

About: Gilthead Seabream is fish from Sparidae family. It has oval body with strong head and even stronger teeth. It is silverish in appearance, darker on the back, lighter on the sides and stomach. It has thin, dark, brown, horizontal stripes running from head to tail.

sparus-aurata-2It is easily recognizable due to black mark just behind the eyes and golden strip between eyes.

Maximum size is around 70cm (27 inches) in length and 17kg (37 pounds) in weight, but on average, it is around 0.5kg. Even so, when hooked it can put on very nice fight and larger specimens are sometimes very hard to pull out of water.

Spawning occurs at the end of autumn and in the first half of winter.

Habitat: Gilthead Seabream can be found in the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern coastal regions of the North Atlantic Ocean. It roams from shallows to depths up to 150 meters, but it is much more common between 2-25 meters.

It likes brackish waters, but this is not a 'must' condition for this fish.

Prefers sandy and rocky seabed where it finds it's food - various molluscs, small fishes and such - it has very strong jaws with great crushing power, more than enough for mussels and crustaceans.

sparus-aurata-3Fishing period: It can be catch all year long, but March and April are best to go after this fish.

Fishing rigs and tackle: It can be caught on rod and reel, strong handline, longline, with speargun (highly prized), with nets and traps. Sometimes, it can be hooked during trolling near the bottom.

It takes various baits: murex snail meat (use only the tough part of mulex), various worms, whole or chunks of sardines, prawns/shrimps, mussels (whole, maybe with little bit damaged shell), even cheese etc.

Due to possible size and strength of this fish and it's jaws, use some serious gear, or you can lose your prey.


Gilthead Seabream on fish market, with European Sea Bass in the background.
Photo by N.M.

Cuisine: This is one of the best tasting Mediterranean fishes, especially wild specimens - it is one of the most farmed fish. It can be prepared in many ways and they are all superb - it can be barbequed, made as part of fish stew, boiled; smaller specimens are often pan fried/grilled.

Use some olive oil, few drops of lemon, some garlic and parsley to improve it's already great taste and aroma.


Two Gilthead Seabreams, cleaned, around 600g (around 21 ounces), caught on a handline from a boat. Not a 100kg tuna, but nonetheless, nice! :)