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WINTER GARFISH


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I am looking to turn my attention to Garfish this winter. I am a total Newbie with Garfish.

I have an underlying assumption (possibly incorrectly) that the better size Garfish are more often caught in winter.

Can anyone offer any advise on catching Garfish in winter?

 

Perhaps covering some of these points;

1) Seasonal movements

   a) in the Gulfs

   b) change of Habitat/ Terrain

   c) in the water column

2) Weather conditions: Ideal conditions: Temperatures (Air & Water),  Winds, Atmospheric pressure

3) Change in diet/prey. Availability of prey/food

4) Change in behaviour/feeding patterns

Subsequently ...

   5) are there different rigs for winter

   6) different baits

 

I look forward to an engaging discussion involving all these aspects.

Cheers, Des

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For winter Gar, you fish the the bottom as you would for Whiting. The rig is a sinker clipped to a swivel at the top of the trace, & a cork at the bottom of the rig where the sinker would be for a paternoster rig. Then 1 or 2 hooks in between & still use gents. When the sinker hits the bottom, the cork will float the bait off the bottom & you get your Gar. 

Gar are normally a bottom weed eating fish hence the green goop that comes out of the backside. They stick around the ocean floor in winter. 

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1 hour ago, Rybak said:

Gar are normally a bottom weed eating fish hence the green goop that comes out of the backside. They stick around the ocean floor in winter. 

Would you not bother float fishing Gar in winter? 

Is there a weed type bait that can be successfully used for Gar. As there is with some other species like Luderick?

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Gar are definitely bigger in Winter and although I have no idea on many of the questions you ask Des, I still always use a float.

On my local jetty at Pt Noarlunga, Gar are mostly caught towards the end of the jetty during warmer months (all on floats).  Although the Gar can be caught in the shallower water as well, but are smaller.

It is also better to have some ripple on the water and depths of hook will vary depending where the Gar may be holding on the day.

Over the weedy spots you'll generally have more success too.

Burley is always well worth using to 'bring in' the Gar.  You can make up all sorts of concoctions but I just use cheap chicken pellets mixed with some tuna oil. The pellets slowly break down. Or they can be soaked night before to soften quicker.  I also use old bread (processed up) mixed with tuna oil bit of curry.  (some people use canola oil cat tuna tins mixed into burley).

Have a good burley stream going but don't overfeed them - once they come in, lighten off the burley to a tickle.

I only use 1 hook as 2 hooks can cause too many tangles with Gar.  Most ppl use a hook size 10/12 long shank. Long shank is good for hook retrieval although I use 'Diiachi' size 12/14 small medium shank.

During Winter, the deeper depths of the jetty don't produce as many Gar (on a float), but successful catches are caught towards the shallows on a float.  There is no need to use a sinker/cork as the float/leader is enough due to shallower water depth.  If fishing toward the end of the jetty, then as Rybak mentions, a sinker/cork combo would be useful.

Gents are a great bait with 'long life' available mostly everywhere and about 350 gents in a container.  Keep in the fridge (I put container in a zip lock also - just in case of a couple escapees), where they become docile.  I take out once a week a give a little water spray and let them move around for a bit then back in the fridge - seems to keep them even longer.

Sometimes Gar will not touch a gent, so other baits such as a slither of chicken, slither of red meat or slither of Gar flesh can work also.  A couple of very successful fishos on the jetty use dough - their little secret ingredients work very well.

And, always best to have wind at your back for better casting and current in same direction - to keep the float 'out there'.

When Gar are finicky to take a bait, it is worth trying different methods to excite them into 'attacking'.

That can be slight jerks of your rod to give that slight movement of the bait - or a very slow retrieve, stop, slow retrieve - or jerk, slow retrieve, stop, slow retrieve - anything else you can try to excite them etc.   

If wind/current is in your favor, you can also try just the hook without a float/sinker/cork etc.

Many a time you will see them in schools and all around your bait, but no matter what you do, they will not commit.  When you throw in a little burley, they will take that, but not your bait.    If nothing works to hook them, just enjoy the day on the water :)

Also, if you intend to return any Gar (undersize, too thin etc), always handle them with care due to their very delicate scale.

Using a wet hand (or wet cloth) whilst holding them will help reduce loss of scales.

For the keepers, hold Gar around head/gills and with other hand, grip and run hand down the flesh - this will take off much of the scales and easier to clean at home.   Also, run your thumb down the stomach towards the bum which will push out most innards - point towards water and not yourself ;)  Acts as a bit of burley too.

Gar is one of the tastiest you will enjoy - I rate them better than KGW.  And once you start bringing some home, you'll soon get the hang of butterflying them (although single fillets are ok, they can be a bit small at times).

Hope that helps and look forward to your catches :) 

 

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For me I find gar are a bit slower in winter as they don't seem as densly schooled up, also I fish the same general locations but find heading deeper can be better. 

I tend to be more land (jetty) based in winter, I like the old combo burley float & pencil float rig and a long 2m+ trace. It's otherwise normal gar fishing for baits, burley wind and tides. Great way to pass a winter's day and score a delicious feed, the real trick will be getting through the Tommies who love the colder months but that's a pretty good "problem" to have I reckon.

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21 hours ago, Des said:

Would you not bother float fishing Gar in winter? 

Is there a weed type bait that can be successfully used for Gar. As there is with some other species like Luderick?

You can still float fish Gar in winter, but I would throw in a burley pot first to see if any are around or just float fish as normal. Sometimes you may get some, sometimes only tommies or salmon trout. Gar are bigger & fatter fishing the sea bed in winter. So you can do both & see what is working on the day. 

You can use a cabbage weed type bait in thin strands, but just easier to use gents or other baits already mentioned.

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On 20/04/2022 at 8:33 AM, doobie said:

Gar are definitely bigger in Winter and although I have no idea on many of the questions you ask Des, I still always use a float.

On my local jetty at Pt Noarlunga, Gar are mostly caught towards the end of the jetty during warmer months (all on floats).  Although the Gar can be caught in the shallower water as well, but are smaller.

It is also better to have some ripple on the water and depths of hook will vary depending where the Gar may be holding on the day.

Over the weedy spots you'll generally have more success too.

Burley is always well worth using to 'bring in' the Gar.  You can make up all sorts of concoctions but I just use cheap chicken pellets mixed with some tuna oil. The pellets slowly break down. Or they can be soaked night before to soften quicker.  I also use old bread (processed up) mixed with tuna oil bit of curry.  (some people use canola oil cat tuna tins mixed into burley).

Have a good burley stream going but don't overfeed them - once they come in, lighten off the burley to a tickle.

I only use 1 hook as 2 hooks can cause too many tangles with Gar.  Most ppl use a hook size 10/12 long shank. Long shank is good for hook retrieval although I use 'Diiachi' size 12/14 small medium shank.

During Winter, the deeper depths of the jetty don't produce as many Gar (on a float), but successful catches are caught towards the shallows on a float.  There is no need to use a sinker/cork as the float/leader is enough due to shallower water depth.  If fishing toward the end of the jetty, then as Rybak mentions, a sinker/cork combo would be useful.

Gents are a great bait with 'long life' available mostly everywhere and about 350 gents in a container.  Keep in the fridge (I put container in a zip lock also - just in case of a couple escapees), where they become docile.  I take out once a week a give a little water spray and let them move around for a bit then back in the fridge - seems to keep them even longer.

Sometimes Gar will not touch a gent, so other baits such as a slither of chicken, slither of red meat or slither of Gar flesh can work also.  A couple of very successful fishos on the jetty use dough - their little secret ingredients work very well.

And, always best to have wind at your back for better casting and current in same direction - to keep the float 'out there'.

When Gar are finicky to take a bait, it is worth trying different methods to excite them into 'attacking'.

That can be slight jerks of your rod to give that slight movement of the bait - or a very slow retrieve, stop, slow retrieve - or jerk, slow retrieve, stop, slow retrieve - anything else you can try to excite them etc.   

If wind/current is in your favor, you can also try just the hook without a float/sinker/cork etc.

Many a time you will see them in schools and all around your bait, but no matter what you do, they will not commit.  When you throw in a little burley, they will take that, but not your bait.    If nothing works to hook them, just enjoy the day on the water :)

Also, if you intend to return any Gar (undersize, too thin etc), always handle them with care due to their very delicate scale.

Using a wet hand (or wet cloth) whilst holding them will help reduce loss of scales.

For the keepers, hold Gar around head/gills and with other hand, grip and run hand down the flesh - this will take off much of the scales and easier to clean at home.   Also, run your thumb down the stomach towards the bum which will push out most innards - point towards water and not yourself ;)  Acts as a bit of burley too.

Gar is one of the tastiest you will enjoy - I rate them better than KGW.  And once you start bringing some home, you'll soon get the hang of butterflying them (although single fillets are ok, they can be a bit small at times).

Hope that helps and look forward to your catches :) 

 

Great information for everyone there Doobie 👍

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  • 2 months later...

Some floats need a bit of tweaking and adjustment of casting styles to avoid tangles while casting. But once you get in the rhythm, it can be quite effective.
 

While its difficult to fish 2 rods at once effectively - it might be worth trialing both methods against each other to see which one you like. A light float very a burley float.

Bring a towel and have a bucket of water to wash your hands, as gar fishing, especially burley floating, can be a dirty labour intensive style of fishing
And always keep their bum pointed away from you when giving them a squeeze while removing the hook

A hook removal took is best  - just let gravity and their wriggling get them off the hook and they will fall into the bucket
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And the bit of wire on the stick was vital too.

Once everything gets coated in tuna oil - those plastic stoppers get slippery and hard to pull out - so you need pliers, teeth or a hole drilled through and wire on a stick to get them back out.

My guru used to custom turn wooden end plugs on a lathe. They were shaped like a mushroom so they were always easy to pull out no matter how slimey your hands were

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Heres some footage of gars gnawing on weed - I wonder if they are stripping it for little bugs and snails etc or whether they just like salad.

That pointy beak and up turned mouth suggests they do a fair bit of hunting aswell. Lots of guys swear by lures to catch them but I have found it no where near as effective as bait and burley. (I did give up pretty quick on the lures though)
 

 

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Gar are a weed eater & generally a bottom feeding fish hence their green poop. The large Gar at the moment are on the bottom (well in SA metro waters anyway) so if you want some, sinker on top swivel & cork float on the bottom of the rig & fish the bottom..... Just use gents as normal.

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12 hours ago, Rybak said:

Gar are a weed eater & generally a bottom feeding fish hence their green poop. The large Gar at the moment are on the bottom (well in SA metro waters anyway) so if you want some, sinker on top swivel & cork float on the bottom of the rig & fish the bottom..... Just use gents as normal.

Yeah when I asked what lures to use for gars, there were plenty of blokes listing all the lures they have got them on - but very few photos.

Ive mouth hooked one on a little thin metal lure while chasing salmon. But when I burleyed them up and tried lures, they werent effective for me. So I just whipped out the chicken hunks and started landing them quite freely.

If I was going to target them again with lures I'd be using something very similar to this

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3 hours ago, yellow door 1 said:

Yeah when I asked what lures to use for gars, there were plenty of blokes listing all the lures they have got them on - but very few photos.

Ive mouth hooked one on a little thin metal lure while chasing salmon. But when I burleyed them up and tried lures, they werent effective for me. So I just whipped out the chicken hunks and started landing them quite freely.

If I was going to target them again with lures I'd be using something very similar to this

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The only "lure" I've caught Gar on is the Berkley Gulp Maggots Asticots - soft plastic gents..

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13 hours ago, yellow door 1 said:

Yeah when I asked what lures to use for gars, there were plenty of blokes listing all the lures they have got them on - but very few photos.

Ive mouth hooked one on a little thin metal lure while chasing salmon. But when I burleyed them up and tried lures, they werent effective for me. So I just whipped out the chicken hunks and started landing them quite freely.

If I was going to target them again with lures I'd be using something very similar to this

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Hi yellowdoor1, that's a great little soft plastic for gar! can i please ask where you purchased this from. Thanks 👍

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24 minutes ago, imfishn said:

Hi yellowdoor1, that's a great little soft plastic for gar! can i please ask where you purchased this from. Thanks 👍

I suck at gars on lures - the guy who caught that one said it was "  a mebaru oboro plastic and a small ecogear jighead unsure of what size tho. Cheers"

The guys who use these lures fish ultra light tackle and tiny lures - the style is referred to as "Ajing" i believe


 

 

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You can jag a few gar on small (5g or less ie halco twisty) chrome lures with sticky hooks pretty reliably when they're thick too, gar love shiney things, they also love a squid jag under one of those flasher floats, works better than burley sometimes, but if you actually want to catch gar then a small hook with appropriate bait and rig is 20+ times better.

Edited by Wert
Missed a word
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13 hours ago, imfishn said:

Thanks for that yellowdoor1 👍 I have never tried catching them on lures, but it would be worth having this in the tacklebox, when you run out of bait or if they are finicky, i guess! could be good fun to try out. Thanks again

No worries mate - seems like anything associated with "Ajing" fishing comes with a hefty price tag.

So heres the ali express version - $2.24 for a 20 pack sound more reasonable than some other prices I found

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000197310472.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.6ae936c7mv0SVU&algo_pvid=0e6c14a4-9729-4306-b500-be9bbb5116fe&algo_exp_id=0e6c14a4-9729-4306-b500-be9bbb5116fe-3&pdp_ext_f={"sku_id"%3A"12000023673453498"}&pdp_npi=2%40dis!AUD!!2.24!!!!!%40210318cb16567613125867579e9b68!12000023673453498!sea

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20 hours ago, Des said:

Yet to brave the cold 🥶😆

Funny. I can go wading in the cold water, on the sandflats in Winter. You keep moving and warming up.

But I struggle sitting on a jetty, staying put in a burley stream with little exercise to warm you up. 😶🙄

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