Commonly referred to as Gardies!
Southern garfish are a relatively abundant inshore species found throughout Australia and provide anglers of all ages and sizes with not only great fun but also a healthy bait source to collect for later use on larger target species. There are typically two variations of garfish species found throughout Australia, the southern (Hyporhamphus melanochir) and the northern or robust (Hyporhamphus robustus ). Both of which can be encountered throughout southern and northern parts of Australia.
Southern garfish can be located from as far south as Albany up to Port Hedland throughout Western Australia with the northern or robust garfish extending from Port Hedland north into the Kimberley region. Victoria, Tasmania, S.A. and N.S.W. also hold healthy stocks of southern gars with the northern species more prevalent from Queensland upwards.
Both species of garfish have rapid growth rates as is the case with most smaller species designed to be a food source for others. The robust garfish does grow larger than the southern variety and can measure up to 50cm in length. Most garfish encountered around Australia measure around 25 – 35cm in length.
Garfish prefer shallow bays and estuary systems with large areas of healthy seed weed beds as well as sheltered sandy bays with heavy cover near by. Water depths of 1 – 5 meters are most suitable.
There are two separate species of javelin fish or garfish typically found here in Australia. The first is the northern or robust garfish fish which is distinguished by its bright silver colouration and small dark spot which is located beneath the pectoral fin. Robust garfish have deeper, thicker torso’s and an extended lower tail lobe as opposed to the even tail lobes and slender body shape of the smaller southern garfish.
Garfish are much better eating than most people realise!
Garfish are a small species that do provide a fairly good account for themselves on ultra light spin and fly tackle delighting anglers as they hurl themselves from the water at times in an attempt to escape.
Ultra light spin and fly combos are ideally suited to targeting garfish both from shore or from boat with braided, gel spun and nylon lines with a breaking strain of around 2 – 3kg proving ideal. Light 2 – 3kg nylon or fluoro carbon leaders of around one rod length help to prevent the fish from seeing brightly coloured lines when fish are being fussy during calm, clear conditions.
Small cut pieces of peeled prawn or fresh fish as well as live maggots are sensational baits for catching garfish with very small soft plastic lures and fly’s also proving to be successful at times.
Garfish also make great bait for larger, predatory species such as tailor and Spanish mackerel!
Rising or full tides are best suited for targeting garfish around most areas although some deep water locations will also produce good numbers of fish during low and falling tides. New moon phases are also preferable for most fish species including garfish.