Size & age – European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
Growing old slowly
Bass are slow-growing and long-lived fish. The graph gives an indication of the likely range of length and weight at each year in a bass’s life. A fish from UK waters weighing 10 pounds – about 28 inches (71 cm) in length – would probably be 20 years old, though it could be between 13 and 30.
Fish grow faster in warmer waters, but their life span may be shorter, so they do not necessarily achieve greater size. A 10 pound fish from the Biscay Bay area might only be about 15 years old.
Most fish weighing more than about 5 pounds are female.
Bass start to have their greatest appeal to sporting anglers when they reach about 10 years of age, and weigh between 4 and 7 pounds. Sadly, the law allows these fish to be taken 5 years earlier, at just 36cm (about 14″) in length.
The age of a bass can be determined by reading the rings on its scales, in a similar way to aging a tree. The graph represents scale readings from many bass over many years, by Donovan Kelley MBE in the early days, and more recently by the BASS fish recorders, Malcolm Brindle and John Leballeur.