Southern Garfish

Other names: garies, gardies, beakies

Scientific name:
Hyporhamphus melanochir

Minimum size:
25 cm

Bag limit:

Possession limit: 30

Measure garfish from the upper jaw to tip of tail.

Identifying features:
Garfish have a bill, a long, rounded body and are covered with small scales.  They are bluish green in colour along the back with a silver stripe bordered by a blue stripe extending from behind the head to the tail.  The belly is silver and the fins may be translucent or tinged with green.

Grows to:
Up to 40 cm and 0.5 kg.

Southern garfish are a schooling fish found in sheltered bays, inshore coastal areas, estuaries and especially where seagrass meadows are established.  They are found near the surface at night and on the bottom to midwater during the day.

Fishing information:
They are excellent fighters when hooked on light gear.  They have small mouths and a delicate bite.  Most anglers find using a float and a swivel produces more successful results. Burley can be used to ensure that a school of fish remains near the fisher.  Favoured baits include prawns, sandworms, fish flesh and raw chicken. They will occasionally take a small fly.

Responsible fishing tips:
Should not be handled or placed on dry surfaces as these fragile fish readily shed scales and can easily damage their skin and fins.  Release with minimum handling into the water using a de-hooker or pliers to remove the hook.

Garfish are excellent eating providing the time is taken to properly remove the numerous small bones.  Do this by putting the fish bellyside down on a board.  Roll a rolling pin along the length of the spine several times then lift out the bone structure.  Can be filleted with practice.  The flesh is translucent when raw and cooks white.  It has a delicate, sweet flavour and medium oil content.  Suitable to bake, barbeque, shallow or deep fry or foil bake.

Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe
Fish for the Future