Garfish are great sporting fish though, sadly, not to everybody's taste. They fight hard on appropriate tackle and oblige throughout the summer, often when other fish decide that they are not going to play! They do not deserve their bad press, as Lindsey Green explains...
Imagine, if you will, that your entire attention is centred on a tiny float, its bright red top swaying this way and that as the current seizes hold, then sends it swiftly past the rock upon which you are crouched. Dangling beneath it, very, very, close to the surface, a sliver of mackerel shudders as it is caressed by the tide, then lazily lifts, its slender length waving enticingly even as it gleams in the sunlight.
For a moment the float checks, held back as if by some invisible hand. Then, with a sudden leap, it shoots from the surface and keels drunkenly over on its side. Nor is it alone. A second later a long, silvery body erupts from the water, spraying droplets in every direction as it lashes the surface with its tail, then abruptly stands on its head and burrows underwater, the line trailing in its wake.
Back on shore the angler's rod sweeps aloft, curving over in a manner that brought a brief exclamation to my neighbour's lips. He sighted the fish as it surfaced once again, then watched, bemused, as we struggled back and forth, first the fish and then myself gaining line as it swept back and forth in its fury. Finally, after leaps and bounds, tail-walks across the surface, runs and dives matched to frantic sprints and bursts of speed it was drawn slowly, reluctantly, across the waiting net.
My neighbour wandered over, seemingly uncertain of what to say, then looked me in the eye and, to come down off the high poetic for a moment, demolished my pretension in a few blistering words. "It's only a ... (censored!) garfish! Mind you," he added, after a few moment's thought, "I've never seen them fight like that before..."
And that, to be quite frank, is a great pity. Garfish are plentiful, hard-fighting and fun, but they will only ever be able to show off these qualities to people who are prepared to experiment with much lighter gear than we customarily use. The outfit I was using on this particular day, for example, was a tiny baitcaster, with a test curve measured in ounces - six to be precise - matched to a closed face reel loaded with four pounds breaking strain line. A simple float rig completed my gear, with a three foot trace of stronger line - six pounds breaking strain to be exact - to contend against the teeth of my opponents.
Young anglers, in particular, catch lots of garfish, like this, weighing 1 lb 12 ozs.