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Garfish (Hemiramphidae) Photographs and Information

Garfish live in coastal waters, in sheltered bays and are occasionally found in estuaries.

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".

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.

Their diet consists of seagrasses and algae as well as small crustaceans. Found in saltwater but they sometimes venture into brackish and freshwater.

Garfish flesh is fine grained and white and soft texture, with a delicate taste when cooked, but it is also suitable for sashimi. They have many fine bones, that can be eaten. Garfish have a low to medium fat content and flavour is sweet to mild. They are usually sold whole or as fillets with skin on. When sold whole it is important to remove the gut as tainting from seagrass can occur.

Garfish are a popular target for recreational anglers. Garfish also make good bait, especially for Jewfish (Mulloway) when used live. They are often attracted to a light when fishing for them at night. They are generally surface feeders, swimming in schools and can be caught with a floating bait.

Garfish, photo of garfish

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Habitat:  Saltwater, estuarine and freshwater

Caught in rivers, bays and estuaries, and on occasions along the coast

Longtoms (family Belonidae), which are sold regularly, are similar in shape to garfishes (family Hemiramphidae) but instead of an extended lower jaw have both jaws extended into a bill  

Scientific Name Hemiramphidae Family
Location VIC, TAS, SA, WA, NT, QLD, NSW
Season All year round
Size To 51 cm
Australian Species Code 37 234001
Taste, Texture Sweet to mild taste, fine to medium texture.


Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Garfish fillet.

Kilojoules -
Cholesterol 32 mg
Sodium -
Total fat (oil) 0.7 g
Saturated fat 37% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 18% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 45% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 22 mg
Omega-3, DHA 109 mg
Omega-6, AA 22 mg

Angling for Garfish:

Garfish are a popular target for recreational anglers. Garfish also make good bait, especially for Jewfish (Mulloway) when used live. They are often attracted to a light when fishing for them at night. They are generally surface feeders, swimming in schools and can be caught with a floating bait. 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.


Cooking Garfish:

Garfish are small and rather tasty. They can be filleted to produce attractive boned-out, butterfly fillets, which are exceptional for delicate dishes.

For best effect, cook garfish whole and deep fried. Larger species can be filleted, coated in batter and fried or grilled on a very hot plate, with the skin on and lightly dusted with seasoned flour.

Commercial Fishing for Garfish:

Garfish are an important commercial fishery for South Australia, Victoria and, to a lesser degree, Tasmania. The are fished using haul nets, ring nets, dab nets and small mesh purse seines. Wild caught. Recovery rate: Fillets: 47% from whole garfish (gut in). Buyers and sellers of garfish.





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