How to catch a Garfish?

Garfish is a popular saltwater species caught throughout Port Phillip Bay within the summer months. A very easy targeted fish for any land-based angler as they can be caught from piers and wharves.

Often distinguished by their small yet long slender body and a protruding lower jaw which forms a spear. This species of fish is silvery in colour with a light blue to greenish back.

Garfish can be a good quality eating fish as they do have very sweet flesh but can be delicate to handle. Most people avoid Garfish altogether when it comes to cooking as they can be a bony fish to eat.

But don’t be turned away as Garfish can be cooked in a variety of ways including deep fried as a whole, BBQ, pan-fried, and grilled.



Garfish are a schooling fish and swim within the top and middle water column. Often this species is spotted amongst man-made structures including piers and wharves. Garfish can also be found over grassy seabed within shallow waters.


Best time of the day and tide

Garfish can be caught throughout the day but most effectively caught with a run in tide during early mornings. Garfish are opportunistic feeders and where ever an easy meal is available they’ll be schooling there.


What type of set-up should you use?

When it comes to catching Garfish a lightweight tackle setup is best as they are a very small species. A lightly weighted 1-2 kg rod and 1000-2500 reel spooled up with a 6 lb mono or braid will be more than enough to do the job.

Garfish are best caught on a float rig either with a bobber or quill float and balanced with split shots or a lightly weighted ball sinker. Bait fishing with a burley trail is best when chasing Gars. Use a size 10-12 long shank hooks baited with small pieces of fish flesh, squid, prawns, and even bread dough.



Legal Limits and sizes

As of yet, Garfish don’t have a minimum size limit in Victorian waters but it is best to check your state regulations before heading out. Garfish are a schooling fish and when they do get on the bite they really fire up. A bag limit of 40 fish is present per person and remember to keep count and not over fish.

Information and Image referenced from VFA ‘Victorian Fisheries Authority’

3 thoughts to “How to catch a Garfish?”

  1. Could you draw some lines on how to prepare a simple robust homemade dough bait, that suits and holds saltwater conditions?

    1. Hi Sam,

      I’ve drawn a simple Rig setup for Garfish above in the article. These are for saltwater conditions. When using dough baits I would simply attach the bait to the point of the hook. Ideally for Garfish use a long shank hook.



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