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  Gone Fishing  Fish File



Hyporhamphus melanochir

Garfish is one of the nicest fish to eat, even though "butterfly" filleting them can be awkward to the inexperienced, and a blunt knife does not help ! For information on filleting Garfish, have a look at Filleting Garfish.

They would have to be one of the easiest fish to catch, and are in fact classified as scavengers of the sea, and mainly feed on weed in inshore waters.

They are a very easy fish to catch, and are usually attracted to beds of sea grass and manmade structures such as jetties. Tommy Ruffs can also be caught at the same time as garfish. Garfish are also a perfect bait for Mulloway, using 4 ganged 4/0 hooks. See Mulloway Fish File for more information on using garfish as bait.

Scaling the fish is relatively easy and painless ! Hold the fish by the head and slide your free hand down the body. This removes most if not all the scales. This is called stripping and it saves a lot of time when you get ashore.

When fishing for Garfish, always have a variety of baits handy, and change them regularly. Garfish have a habit of going off one bait very quickly, but they will take to another type, as they rely on smell as much as anything.

Legal Minimum Length

Current Limit: 23 cm  [Previous: 21 cm]

Legal minimum length is 23 cm, measured from the tip of the tail to the tip of the upper jaw.

Bag Limit

Current Bag Limit: 60 per person  [Previous: 80 per person]
Current Boat Limit: 180 per boat  [Previous: 240 per boat]

Type of Tackle

Use line between 2 to 4kg. Garfish can be a problem if lighter line is used, due to the line being prone to tangles while casting, as well as while the gar are on the bite. Lighter lines can encourage more strikes.

A rod around 1.8m is ideal for both jetty and boat fishing.

Hook Selection

No.10 Beak-Nickel "Holdfast" nylon snelled hooks that come pre packed are ideal.

Baits Used

Gents, Seaweed Worms, Cockles. I have always had success using gents.

If using gents as bait, hook them thru the tail (the pointy end), not the head (where the two eyes are). They stay alive and wriggle longer this way. Introduce new and fresh baits periodically should the garfish go off the bite.

Berley Mix

A berley mix of the following ingredients is guaranteed to work. I've seen squid off the jetty attracted by this brew. Ideal for using this brew on a berley/pencil float rig.

  • Pellets
  • Bran or Pollard
  • White Bread, cut into small squares (no crust)
  • The secret ingredient - Curry Powder

Mix the above with water until the brew takes on a stiff consistency. Use just enough Curry Powder to give the brew a light yellow colour. You should mix a batch several hours prior to usage, to ensure that enough time is given for the pellets to absorb some moisture. Garfish can quite easily fill up on your berley, so the right consistency of berley mix is critical in ensuring that the mix does not disperse to quickly.

Tommy Ruffs will die for this berley as well !

Rigs Used

Rig No. 1
The following diagram shows a float rig which can be used either off a jetty, or from an anchored boat. Garfish tend to come to the surface on overcast days, or at night. This rig would be ideal for such a situation, however you can now purchase from tackle shops, plastic hollow pencil floats whereby a "Starlite" mini chemical light can be inserted into the pencil float for night fishing. A standard "Starlite" measuring 37mm x 4.5 mm § is sufficient. The berley float can contain the above mentioned berley mix.

The positioning of the pencil and berley floats relative the location of your hooks is important, in as much it determines whether your hooks reach far enough into the water for the garfish. Also if your rig from the top of the berley float to the tip of the last hook is too long, it can create problems when casting by been more prone to tangles.

So the trick here is to tie the line thru both floats in such a manner that you can quickly and easily adjust the depth or location of your hooks, relative to the floats. Also, if you are with a mate fishing for garfish and he's having success and your not, take a look at his rig and compare.

The idea behind the 2 way swivel allows for quick and easy changes to your rigs, should the situation demand it. At the end of your main line, attach a snap-on swivel, and your rod and reel is set for any situation of fishing.

Rig No. 2
Rig 2 is perfect for fishing off jetties, and intended for use when the garfish are feeding on the bottom. The purpose of the spring sinker is to hold a berley mix in place, and slowly disperse it within the vicinity of your hooks. The cork float ensures that the bait is well clear of the sea bed and the main line. When cast, take any slack out of the main line to ensure that if a bite occurs, your rod tip will bend. Fishing with this rig from a boat is awkward, due to the movement of the boat in the waves not giving you a true indicator of potential bites on the line.

Rig No. 3
This rig is ideal for boat fishing, where the float stands upright in the water, making it clearly visible to the angler. Choice of floats, whether it be a wood stemmed, or quill style is of personal preference. Constant berleying from a pot tied to the boat will ensure that you initially attract the garfish, then keep them there.

Rig No. 4
This rig is the simplest of rigs, with the elements of winds and tides effectively suspending your hook in the water. Split shots are used dependant on the force of the tide to keep your bait down.

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