Garfish

 

Garfish have always been a bit of a challenge for me.  Only on a very few occasions have I been lucky enough to catch them in decent numbers.  I found them to be flighty, fussy fish for the most part.  I guess when you are on just about every other species menu, you are bound to be a bit wary.

Although I still don't catch them in large numbers, I have reached the stage where I can be relatively confident of catching a dozen or so. 

They are a small fish and the lighter the gear the better.  Off the jetties and rocks, long, soft action rods are ideal (the specialist bream rods, used to cast unweighted baits are great).  Line of about 6lb, hooks around 10 -12 and a selection of floats and you are set.  After buggering around with pencil floats for a long time, I eventually discarded them for the long stemmed floats like the Luderick fisherman insterstate use.  A berley sinker at the end of the line with two hooks above it seem to work well.  These floats cast well without the tangles and a bite is easily recognised.

From a boat, the easiest way to catch them is to use light gear and float a couple of baits back in the berley stream.  There is usually no need for a float because of the tide.  Only when the tide slows will it be necessary to use a float (if the fish are still on the bite).  Generally the Tommies will show up first, with the Garfish back further in the berley stream.

Best bait is gents.  Fish flesh and, at times, cockles will also work, but gents are by far the best.  Any type of berley will work, but soaked chicken pellets mixed with a bit of tuna oil is very effective.  If mixed right, it will disperse slowly from the berley sinker (if float fishing) or berley container (if fishing from a boat).

Fishing over thick weed beds and reef is the best bet.  Location is more important than depth of water.  I have caught them from the deep water jetties, like Port Giles and Wallaroo, but I have caught plenty in the shallows off of Price and St. Kilda.

Years ago, my favourite spot to catch Garfish was the Outer Harbour Breakwater.  Fishing on the southern side (the beach side) on an outgoing tide used to produce some nice Garfish.  Likewise, the north eastern end of the Outer Harbour Wharf (now inaccessible) was a regular producer.  Today, the best land based spots are those in the less populated areas.  The country jetties are worth a try, especially Marion Bay and the West Coast areas.  The rocks at the foot of both peninsulas are good too, with Corny Point on Yorke Peninsula and Lincoln National Park on Eyre Peninsula being two great spots.

The legal minimum length for Garfish is 23cm, measured from the upper jaw to the end of the tail.  The bottom jaw is the long one.  There is a daily bag limit of 30 per person per day.  My biggest to date is a 33 cm fish from the jetty at Marion Bay.

Best time of the year is Spring and Summer.  Time of day and tides depends largely on location.  For example at St. KIlda and Outer Harbour, the run out in the morning seems to be the best.  At Marion Bay and Corny Point, the afternoon run in is the best.   It's just a matter of finding them and then working out the conditions relative to that spot.

Garfish are my favourite eating fish.  Although there are usually a few bones, even after filleting, the sweet, white flesh more than makes up for it.

The other plus is that they make very good bait for just about anything.

Low tide at Pt. Turton.  This broken ground of weed and sand is a great garfish spot on a rising tide.