Learn How to Catch Garfish Like a Pro | 14 Insider Tips & Strategies for Land-Based Anglers

Are you ready to learn how to catch garfish like a pro? Whether you’re an experienced angler or just starting out, there’s no better way to experience the thrill of land-based fishing than with garfish. This slimy sea creature is surprisingly delicious and fun to reel in!

But before heading out on your next fishing trip, it pays off to know some cool facts about this species as well as what size limit applies in NSW, how best tackle and where they are commonly found. We’ve got all the information here so that when it comes time for you cast your line into the waters—you’ll be sure come home with plenty of garfish!

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How To Catch Garfish – Tip #1

Garfish Facts

Scientific Name: Hemiramphidae

Garfish, Garpike, or “Sea Needles” as they are also known, are a species of fish found in the temperate waters of the Atlantic and Mediterranean. They can be recognized by their long and slender bodies with silver scales along their sides. 


Garfish have two dorsal fins and one anal fin on their backside. They can grow up to 40 cm in length and weigh around 1 kg when fully grown. Their bodies are covered in small silver scales which help them blend into their environment while they hunt for prey.


Garfish prefer shallow waters such as estuaries, bays, lagoons, and coastal areas where there is plenty of food available for them to feed on. They can be found in both temperate and tropical waters all over the world but are most commonly seen near Europe’s Atlantic coastlines from Norway down to Portugal including parts of North Africa too.


Garfish are widely distributed throughout much of the northern hemisphere’s temperate seas but can also be found in some parts of South America too. In addition to this they have been spotted off Australia’s eastern coastline from Queensland down through New South Wales as well as Tasmania’s southern shores.

The garfish feeds mainly on smaller fish such as anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel. It also eats crustaceans like shrimp if given the opportunity. It hunts by quickly darting out its long snout at unsuspecting prey before snapping it shut again, making it an efficient hunter.

Garfish are an exciting species to target, and learning about their behavior can help you land more of them. Now that you know the cool facts about garfish, let’s look at the legal size and catch limit in NSW.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #2

Garfish Legal Size & Catch Limit in NSW

Garfish are a popular species of fish in New South Wales, Australia. As such, the state has set specific regulations on the size and catch limit for garfish. According to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI), anglers fishing for garfish must adhere to a maximum daily bag limit of 10 per person, however there is no size limit for garfish in New South Wales. This means that anglers can keep any size garfish they catch as long as they don’t exceed the bag limit. 

When it comes to measuring your garfish, there are two methods: fork length and total length measurements. Fork length measures from the tip of the snout to where the tail begins while total length includes all parts beyond this point including fins and tails as well as any other appendages like antennae or barbels present in some species. For recreational fishers targeting garfish in NSW waters, total length measurement should be used as this is what is considered by law enforcement officers when assessing compliance with size limits regulations.

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If you’re unsure about whether or not your catch meets legal requirements, it is best practice not to keep it until you can confirm its legality with either an officer or local fisheries expert who will be able to provide more detailed advice regarding applicable laws and regulations in your area. Remember – always check before you cast.

Knowing the legal size and catch limit of garfish in NSW is essential for any angler, so make sure you’re familiar with the rules before setting out. Now let’s take a look at what makes these fish such a great eating option.

Key Takeaway: 

When fishing for garfish in New South Wales, anglers mus adhere to a maximum daily bag limit of 10 per person, however there is no size limit for garfish in NSW. When measuring the size of your garfish, use total length measurements for assessing compliance with size limits regulations.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #3

What’s the Eating Quality of Garfish?

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Garfish are a popular seafood choice in Australia, and for good reason. They have a mild flavour that is often compared to mackerel or herring, with some people even likening it to salmon. Garfish can be cooked in many different ways, from grilling and baking to steaming and frying.

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When it comes to eating quality, garfish have a few advantages over other types of fish. Firstly, they’re relatively low in fat content – about 4-5%. This makes them an ideal choice for those looking for leaner cuts of fish. Secondly, their flesh is firm yet tender when cooked properly – making them perfect for dishes like ceviche or sashimi where the texture needs to hold up well during preparation. Lastly, their delicate flavour means they pair well with a variety of sauces and seasonings without overpowering the dish itself.

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In terms of nutrition value, garfish offer plenty of benefits too. They’re high in protein (about 20g per 100g) as well as omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for healthy brain development and functioning; plus they contain vitamins A & D which help maintain eye health and strengthen bones respectively.

Garfish have a mild, sweet flavor that makes them a great addition to any meal. With the right techniques and tips, you can start catching garfish from land-based locations with ease – let’s explore how in the next section.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #4

How To Catch Garfish (Land-Based)

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Land-based garfish fishing is a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors while catching some tasty fish. Garfish are an exciting species to target, as they can be found in many different areas around Australia. To catch them successfully, you’ll need to understand their habits and use the right techniques.


The first step in land-based garfish fishing is finding where they are located. They tend to inhabit shallow waters near shorelines, so look for rocky or sandy areas with plenty of structure like rocks, logs, or weed beds that provide cover for these small fish. Once you have identified a likely spot, it’s time to set up your gear. An incoming tide is usually more productive than an outgoing one; however you can still catch them at any cycle of the tide.


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Burley is essential for attracting garfish near you and keeping them there once they arrive. The most effective burley mix consists of Stimulate brand ground berley mix mixed with tuna oil and saltwater – just make sure it has a consistency that isn’t too runny or too dry (it should have the consistency of wet sand).

Once your berley starts working its magic, look out for signs such as fish breaking the surface on calm days – then rig up and cast your bait close to cover and wait for a bite. 

Rig Up

Rigging up for garfish couldn’t be simpler – all you need is a pencil float, some split shot sinkers to suit, and either a size 10-12 long shank hook. Keep your floats small to aid in detecting even the slightest of bites. Many anglers weight their floats with enough split shot to keep it upright; however, we prefer using very little weight so the bait can drift around more naturally than being anchored down by the float. Setting the depth of your bait depends on how deep you’re fishing – good rule of thumb is around the 1.5 metre mark but keep your eye on what’s working and adjust it throughout the session depending on what works best.

Light Gear

Light spinning outfits are perfect for targeting garfish – 6-10lb mainline is ideal (braid or monofilament). If you opt for braid then use leaders no less than 6lb as gars fight erratically and can easily twist themselves around thinner lines. Daiwa’s J-Thread Nylon is great as it sits on top of the water without interfering with your float presentation. (We’ll cover all the best gear, tackle, rigs and baits for Garfish later on in this article.)

Once everything is set up correctly, just sit back and wait for that moment when your float tilts up then under – there’s nothing quite like it! Once hooked, keep steady pressure on the line as gar will try to jump out of the water or run towards structure that could break off your line. If possible, net them quickly after landing them in order to avoid any further damage from their sharp teeth and gill plates.

Finally, remember that all anglers should practice responsible fishing techniques when targeting this species – release any undersized individuals immediately and handle large specimens carefully using wet hands or gloves while removing hooks from their mouths. With proper care taken during capture and release processes, we can ensure healthy populations of this amazing sportfish remain available for future generations of anglers!

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #5

Where Are Garfish Commonly Found?

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Cast your line in any coastal or estuarine waters of New South Wales and you’ll have a great chance to catch garfish. These fish love the hiding places found near rocks walls, wharves, jetties and reefs; as well as channels with sandy bottoms. Fueled by their diet of small crustaceans and baitfish, garfish are some of the most popular catches among recreational anglers!

Garfish like the warmer water temperatures found in estuarine environments which makes them more active throughout the day. To catch garfish in estuaries, anglers should look for areas where there is plenty of structure such as logs or rocks that will attract smaller bait fish which in turn will draw larger predators like garfish closer to shore.

Best Fishing Spots Sydney NSW | LandBasedAnglers.com

Although garfish can sometimes be identified in the depths of offshore waters, this is quite rare and demands specific strategies for a successful catch. Generally speaking, it’s best to cast your line from shore or nearby areas close to the coast where they are visible feasting on their meals.To make sure you get the best catch possible, let’s take a look at some of the best spots for garfish fishing in Sydney.

Key Takeaway:

To put it simply, garfish are most frequently located and captured in coastal and estuarine waters throughout the Australian coastline. If anglers want to have an optimal fishing experience while targeting garfish then they need to focus on these areas.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #6

Best Garfish Fishing Spots in Sydney, NSW

Sydney, NSW is home to some of the best garfish fishing spots in Australia. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, there are plenty of places where you can find these elusive fish. Here are some of our top picks for the best garfish fishing spots in Sydney:

1. Botany Bay

This bay offers excellent opportunities for catching garfish due to its shallow waters and plentiful bait sources. The water here is usually quite clear and visibility is good, making it easier to spot your quarry. You can also take advantage of the strong tidal currents that run through this area which will help bring more fish into your line-up.

2. Kurnell Peninsula

This peninsula provides a great opportunity for shore-based anglers looking to catch garfish as well as other species such as bream and flathead. There are plenty of rock walls and jetties around this area that offer ideal conditions for casting lures or baits out into deeper waters where you may be able to locate schools of garfish swimming around below the surface.

3. Manly Beach

Manly Beach is one of Sydney’s most popular beaches with many anglers flocking here each weekend hoping to land their next big catch. Garfish can often be found lurking close by in search of food so if you’re lucky enough, you might just snag yourself one on light tackle gear while enjoying a day at the beach.

4. Port Hacking River Estuary

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The estuary at Port Hacking River provides excellent conditions for targeting both large and small specimens alike due to its deep channels filled with abundant bait sources like prawns, worms, crabs etc.. If you’re patient enough then chances are high that you could end up reeling in some decent sized catches here.

5.Georges River Estuary:

Best Fishing Spots Sydney NSW | LandBasedAnglers.com

Lastly, we have Georges River Estuary which offers fantastic opportunities for those who want to target larger specimens from shorelines or boats since it has plenty of deep channels full with bait fishes like mullet, herring, sardines etc. It is also known as one of the best locations near Sydney when it comes down to catching bigger size Garfishes.

With the right knowledge and a bit of luck, you can find some great spots to catch garfish in Sydney. To ensure success, it’s important to understand when is the best time of year to target them—the next heading will discuss this in more detail.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #7

What’s The Best Season To Catch Garfish?

Garfish are one of the most sought-after species for land-based anglers in Australia. But when is the best time to catch them? The answer depends on where you’re fishing and what type of garfish you’re targeting as there are at least 18 different types of garfishes found in Australian waters.

In New South Wales, garfish can be found year-round but peak season runs from late spring through summer (October to March). During this period, they move closer inshore and become more active as water temperatures rise. This makes them easier to find and target with lures or bait.

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Best Tide to Fish for Garfish

If you’re looking for garfish, estuaries, jetties and offshore waters along the continental shelf are great locations to try your luck. To increase your chances of success however, aim to go fishing during a run-in tide — this usually happens a few hours after high tide as water levels start rising and pushing bait fish nearer land.

Best Time to Fish for Garfish

If you’re looking to catch garfish, the best time is in early morning before sunrise or late afternoon after sunset. During these hours, the water has had a chance to heat up and bait fish become more active—creating an ideal environment for catching one of these unique species. However, some anglers have luck fishing off a lighted pier at night too!

No matter where or when you decide to go out for a spot of land-based garfishing adventure, make sure that you always check local regulations regarding size limits and bag limits before casting your line. This will ensure that you are abiding by the law and can enjoy a successful fishing trip.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #8

What’s The Best Rod To Catch Garfish?

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When it comes to choosing the best rod for catching garfish, there are a few things you need to consider. Firstly, the length of your rod is important as it will determine the type of lures and baits you can cast. If trying to catch garfish from land-based locations, we recommend using a rod that is around 7-8 feet long (2.1 – 2.4 metres) with a moderate action and light power rating. 

Light-gear setup is an absolute must. We recommend an ultra-light graphite rod or even better a fibreglass rod with a super light tip (aka sensor tip or nibble tip). Using this length, power and action will allow for better casting control when trying to target smaller garfish—something which is essential when fishing in shallow water.

Finally, make sure that your rod has an appropriate rating; most rods designed specifically for garfish fishing have ratings between 1-3kgs or 2-4kgs.

Here are our recommended rods for catching garfish:

Choosing the right rod for catching garfish can make a huge difference in your success rate, so be sure to select one that is suited to the size and type of fish you are targeting. Now let’s look at what kind of reel you should use when fishing for garfish.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #9

What’s The Best Reel To Catch Garfish?

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Knowing the right reel size and gear ratio is essential for success when targeting garfish. Generally speaking, you’ll want to use a 1000, 2000 or 2500 size reel spooled with 4-8lbs braid but mono can be used as well.

When selecting your reel, look for one that has a good drag system and smooth operation. A quality drag system is important because garfish are known to make sudden and powerful runs when hooked which can put strain on your equipment if not properly managed. Additionally, look for reels with corrosion-resistant materials such as aluminum or stainless steel so they don’t rust in saltwater environments.

Here are our Recommended Reels For Garfish:

Choosing the right reel for garfish can make a big difference in your success. With the right line, you’ll be able to cast farther and target more fish. Let’s look at what type of line is best for catching garfish next.

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #10

What’s The Best Line To Catch Garfish?

Garfish are a popular target for land-based anglers, and the right line can make all the difference when it comes to catching them. There are three main types of fishing line that can be used for garfish: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so let’s take a look at each one in more detail.


Monofilament is probably the most common type of fishing line used by anglers today. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and provides good abrasion resistance. Monofilament also stretches slightly which helps absorb shock from hard strikes or sudden runs. 


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Fluorocarbon is another popular choice among anglers because it offers superior strength and sensitivity compared to monofilament lines. It also sinks faster than other types of line which makes it ideal for deep water applications such as trolling or bottom bouncing rigs with heavier weights attached. However, fluorocarbon line can be more expensive than monofilament so  it’s not always the best choice if you’re on a budget. 

Our recommended mono and fluoro lines for garfish include:


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Braid is becoming increasingly popular among serious anglers due to its thin diameter yet high breaking strength ratio compared to other types of fishing line. This makes braid perfect for long casts where you need maximum distance without sacrificing too much power on your hook set up or strike detection ability on lighter baits like live shrimp or small soft plastics lures. 

Our recommended braided lines for garfish include:

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #11

What’s The Best Rig To Catch Garfish?

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Once you have your rod and reel setup sorted, it’s time to choose a rig that will help make the most of your efforts. Since Garfish are top feeders , it’s best to use a rig that will keep the bait suspended in the water column. This will help increase your chances of getting a strike as garfish are more likely to notice and target baits that are higher up in the water column.

Therefore, float rigs are the most popular choice when targeting garfish. This type of rig is effective yet very simple to set up.

Start by joining 1-2 metres worth of 6-pound fluorocarbon leader to your main line using a simple double uni knot. Next, attach a pencil float to the leader followed by several split shots finished with a size 10-12 long shank hook. This will create an effective rig for catching garfish.

When fishing for garfish, it’s important to use light tackle and small baits such as worms, maggots or small strips of fish. You should also keep your presentation slow and steady so that the bait remains in front of them for longer periods of time. Additionally, make sure you have plenty of patience when fishing for these elusive creatures – they may not always take the bait right away!

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #12

What Are The Best Baits to Catch Garfish?

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Garfish are primarily surface feeders, so you want to use baits that float or suspend in the water column. The most common bait for garfish is live shrimp, but small strips of fish or squid can also be effective. Maggots and worms are great options too, especially when fishing from the shore.

Some of the best baits for Garfish include:

  • Bread dough
  • Silverfish
  • Squid
  • Maggots
  • Prawn
  • Pipi
  • Pilchards

No matter which type of bait you choose, remember that patience is key when fishing for garfish—so take your time and enjoy yourself while waiting for a bite!

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #13

What’s The Best Burley for Attracting Garfish?

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When it comes to land-based fishing, one of the most important things to consider is burley. Burley can take a variety of forms and can be used in different ways depending on what type of fish you’re targeting.

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For example, if you’re after garfish then a mixture of bread, tuna oil and fish pieces placed into a burley cage on the surface can draw them towards you and keep them there. Make sure you use fresh ingredients when making up your own home made mixes – this will ensure maximum effectiveness from each batch and help you catch more fish!

Ready-made ground burley is also an excellent option if you’re looking for something quick and easy. This type of burley is processed into a fine, powder-like consistency which can be easily scattered around the water to create a scent trail that garfish will follow towards your bait. 

The key thing when using burley is not to overdo it – create a consistent trail by using small amounts frequently rather than large amounts all at once. This ensures that the fish don’t fill up on the burley before they reach your line or bait!

Another tip for successful land-based fishing with burley is to use scents such as garlic or anchovy extract in order to attract more species into your area. You can either add these directly onto your bait or mix them into your ground burley mix for added attraction power!

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So next time you’re out fishing from shore remember: don’t forget about the importance of good quality burley!

How To Catch Garfish – Tip #14

What Are The Best Lures To Catch Garfish?

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Garfish are opportunistic feeders that can be attracted to a wide range of lures. However, Garfish have tiny mouths which makes lure fishing harder than other species. As a result, the lures you choose should be small, lightweight and designed to float on the surface. 

Popper Lures | LandBasedAnglers.com

Some of the best lures for Garfish include: 

The key when lure fishing for Garfish is to use small, light lures and cast them out towards the shoreline. Allow them to sink for a few seconds, then reel in slowly and steadily. This allows the lure to just skim across the surface of the water which will attract any nearby Garfish.

How To Catch Garfish – Final Thoughts


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Garfish are a great species to target for land-based anglers, and with the right knowledge and gear you can have plenty of success. From understanding their legal size limits in NSW, to knowing where they’re commonly found and what season is best for catching them, we hope this article has given you all the information you need to get out there and catch garfish! So grab your rod, reel, line – and don’t forget your bait – and start fishing!

Are you looking to take your land-based fishing skills up a notch? Then look no further than LandBasedAnglers.com! Our comprehensive resources can help you become an expert in catching Garfish and make the most of your time on the water. From beginner tips, advanced techniques, and gear recommendations—we have it all covered so that you can maximize every outing with confidence.

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