GARFISH
Sci: Hemiramphidae spp.

Common Names: This large family of world-wide fish species is well represented in Australia. The more common types found here include the near identical eastern and southern sea garfish (Hyporhamphus australis and H. melanochir), the river garfish (H. regularis), the robust garfish or "three-by-two" (Hemiramphus robustus) and the snub-nosed garfish (Arrhamphus sclerolepis). All of these fish are commonly called gars, gardies and beakies in Australia, while in New Zealand the common name for this fish is piper. In other parts of the world they are known as needlefish, halfbeaks and balao or "ballyhoo".

Description: Garfish are widespread group of small, slender fish, most of which have a bottom jaw which extends into a bill or beak. Body colour varies between species; from bright, metallic silver to silvery-green or silvery-blue. Some have dark blotches, bands or bars. The belly is typically silvery white, white or pale and a red tip on the bill is common.

Size: The southern sea garfish and the robust or "three-by-two" gar are our largest representatives of this family. Both can occasionally reach sizes of more than 45 cm in length and approach weights of 0.4 kg. Most garfish are more common at lengths of 25 to 35 centimetres and weights of 0.1 to 0.2 kg. Very small garfish, which are popular as bait, are sometimes called "pencil" or "splinter" gar.

Distribution: Garfish are found from the surface layers of oceanic waters far offshore, through inshore reef areas to bays and estuaries, and into freshwater reaches of some rivers. In fact, one type of garfish or another is present in practically every Australian estuary, harbour, bay and inshore area.

Fishing Techniques: Garfish are mainly taken on float-suspended baits of bread, dough, "pudding" mix, fish strips, prawn pieces, marine worm, cut squid strips or maggots. Hooks should be small (No. 14 to No. 6) and long-shanked. Garfish also respond well to a berley mix of pollard, crushed wheat or bread crumbs, especially if a little fish oil is added.

Eating Qualities: Garfish are mainly taken on float-suspended baits of bread, dough, "pudding" mix, fish strips, prawn pieces, marine worm, cut squid strips or maggots. Hooks should be small (No. 14 to No. 6) and long-shanked. Garfish also respond well to a berley mix of pollard, crushed wheat or bread crumbs, especially if a little fish oil is added.

By Steve Starling

Saltwater Species:

Albacore Barracouta
Barracuda Barramundi
Blue Groper Boniti
Bream Coral Trout
Drummer Flathead
Garfish John Dory
Kingfish Leatherjacket
Luderick Mako Shark
Mangrove Lack Marlin
Mullet Mulloway
Queenfish Sailfish
Salmon Shark
Skipjack Tuna Snapper
Snook Tailor
Tuna