Cover Image: Fishing with David
When it comes to bread-and-butter species it doesn’t get much better than the humble garfish. Otherwise known as ‘mini marlin’, these little guys are a ripper target for both land and boat-based fishos in the Southern states. Gar love to hang around in packs and can be caught in huge numbers. So, make sure you’re prepared with the right gear and know-how to make the most of your time fishing for gars with BCF. If you’re looking for both a tasty feed and a cracker bait, you can’t go past garfish – here’s how to catch ‘em!
What gear will I need?
You don’t need the latest and greatest gear to catch a garfish, they can even be caught on a handline! In saying that, having the right gear can make the difference between catching only a couple of fish or a bucket-load. So, it’s good to have a think about getting the right gear for the job. In terms of rods and reels, light-gear is the way to go for these tiny critters. It pays to look for an ultra-light graphite rod, or fibreglass rod with a super light tip, sometimes known as a sensor or nibble tip. Pair this up with a light spinning reel ranging from size 1000 – 2500 spooled with light monofilament line and you’ll be good to go.
What rig should I use?
Garfish are a top-feeding species and are best targeted using a float rig. Putting together a float rig for garfish is simple yet there are many ways of doing it. Quill, pencil, and stem floats are the best kinds of float to use as their slim profile reduces the resistance felt by the fish, resulting in more hook-ups! How high the fish are sitting in the water will dictate where you put your float, and you can use a float stopper to keep the float in the right spot. The next thing you’ll need are some small split shots. These help to balance the float and allow it to sit proud in the water. You need enough split shots so that the indicator at the top of the float (usually orange or red) is sitting out of the water whilst the body of the float is submerged. The last piece of the puzzle is of course, the hook. Garfish have tiny mouths and to catch them you’ll need tiny hooks! Long shank hooks that are size 10 or smaller are ideal and are a must-have when fishing for gars.
Best garfish baits?
There are a range of baits that can be used to catch garfish, with the simplest being a bit of bread squished onto a hook. Silverfish and squid sliced into tiny pieces are ripper baits, yet arguably the best bait of them all are maggots. Rig a couple onto a hook and let them wiggle their way into the mouth of a hungry gar. The most important thing when fishing for gar is to make sure you have enough hook exposure. Make sure the point of the hook is sticking out and not buried in the bait!
What about burley?
Burley is an absolute essential when targeting garfish and can take a variety of forms. A mixture of bread, tuna oil and fish pieces fed out through a burley cage on the surface can draw the fish into your boat and keep them there. Ready-made ground burley is also a fantastic option as it creates a fine mist that slowly sinks down. Alternatively, breadcrumbs mixed in with tuna oil can get the fish going. The most important thing is that you have a consistent but fine burley trail to ensure that the fish don’t fill up on the burley.
Don’t over-do it on the burley, create a consistent trail by using a little bit of burley frequently.
Where can I catch garfish?
You don’t need to go far to catch a garfish and with the use of burley you can bring the fish to you, no matter where you are. Garfish can be caught in most bays and inshore waters from both jetties, and boats anchored close to the shore. Gar feed and find protection in weedy areas close to the shore so it pays to anchor in shallow waters. Night-time can often be the most productive time to fish for gar, so bring your headtorch along and head to your nearest jetty for some garfish action!
Garfish are a fantastic bread and butter species that are easy to catch and are a great bait, particularly for predatory species such as snapper. These little critters also taste great and can provide non-stop fishing action for the whole family. We hope this guide gets you a few fish! For more information, head into your local BCF and speak to a BCFing expert today!