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Posted on Jun 29, 2016 in Fish Species 101 | 9 comments

The Garrick has arrived!

The South Coast’s favourite winter fish ‘The Garrick’ has arrived and Must Byt Fishing is ready for the fight!

The Garrick is one of our favourite fish and thanks to winter we are face to face once again. To hook one of your own, book your next fishing trip with us or read on for a few useful tips and tricks on how to get your winter fishing game in the running with the big leagues!

So enjoy the fight, tight lines, and screaming reels with Must Byt Fishing!

Garrick migrate to KwaZulu-Natal from the Cape in winter and back to the Cape in summer. Migrations also coincide with the annual sardine run. They are a coastal species that occur to a depth of about 50m, but prefer the surf zone. Garrick often form small shoals which hunt behind the backline off beaches and rocky points. It is an aggressive predator showing a preference for shad, mullets, karanteen and pinkies. Garrick have been known to trap a shoal of bait fish in a gully and then to systematically eat them.

When targeting this species one should be prepared for a fierce and enjoyable fight.

When considering tackle a decent strength rod should be used.

A graphite rod of around 12 foot to 14 foot will work fine with most anglers preferring  the 14 foot rod with its added strength, but more importantly it can throw out a large bait. The Kingfisher Poseidon rod’s are popular, but you could use the Elbe Wave Runner or even the more expensive rods like the Assassin or Blue Marlin. A good reel is also essential. Some good options are the Shimano Speedmaster IV, Shimano 20/40, Daiwa SL30/SL50, Daiwa Grandwave 40 or 50 as well as the more powerful reels like the Shimano Torium, Trinidad or the Daiwa Salitiga or Saltist.

Okay, now let’s talk lines. With new technology, most lines are very tough and durable these days so any make of line you choose should be strong enough. A few examples are the Kingfisher Giant Abrasion, Double X Hi Vis or the Maxima range of lines. The breaking strain of these lines can vary. My personal choice is a 30 pound breaking strain. But anything from between 25 to 45 lbs breaking strain can be used.

A very important part of the line is your leader. Always, always fish with a leader. Leaders are very important when fishing for Garrick as they are usually caught in rocky areas, and chances are that your line is going to be grazed on one of these rocks, making a good leader of about 6 to 8 meters is essential.

Now, there are various ways of catching Garrick, ie. Live Bait Slide, Live Bait Throw Trace, Plugging and Spooning. Because live bait is the most popular of these I am going to focus on that.
Okay, the tackle you should consider is as follows:

– 6,7 & 8 Ounce Grapnel Sinkers
– Trace Line/Nylon (Clear Floro Carbon of between 0.90 mm and 1.0mm in thickness)
– Hooks of size range 4.0 to 8.0 (Depending on the size of Garrick around)
– Non Return Slide

I am not going to concentrate on the making of the trace, as you can find that in our Traces section on the website. The trace for “Garrick Live Bait” is the one we will be using. Note that a simple conversion will alter the trace into a throw trace.

Some of the most popular areas for Garrick are Sezela, Winklespruit, Toti, Isipingo, Blue Lagoon, Tinley Manor, Blythedale Beach, Tugela Mouth, and St Lucia. The most common way of telling if there are Garrick around is by watching the shore break. If you notice thrashing and swirls of fins, then the Garrick are around, as they tend to be chasing the shad and smaller bait fish in the water. However if you do not see any of this, the Garrick may be deeper in.

The key thing to remember is be observant. When you arrive at the beach, do not immediately rig up and start fishing. Look around and observe the other anglers. Most of the spots I mentioned will have locals fishing there. These guys will be able to give you an insight into how to fish and what to do, as well as what bait to use. Most of my fishing knowledge has come from watching other anglers, so you should do the same.



Now we will talk about the Slide Trace. This should be used if the Garrick are feeding far out as it will be very difficult to throw a live bait out that far. What you want to do is rig up an 8 ounce sinker with your slide trace ring onto it. Ensure that the line you use to attach your sinker is of a lower breaking strain than your trace line so that if your sinker does get snagged on a rock the sinker line will break but your fish won’t be lost. Throw out your sinker to a depth that you feel will be adequate. Most anglers make the mistake of throwing the furthest they can, but by doing this they actually end up placing their bait way beyond the feeding zone of the Garrick. Once your sinker is secured at the bottom of the seabed attach your slide with your live bait already pinned. Please be careful when handling the live bait. Try to ensure that it is kept in fresh water at all times. It should only be removed from the water at the last moment. Slide your bait out ensuring that you continue shaking your rod even after the fish has disappeared beneath the surface of the water. The idea is to get your slide right down to the sinker. If it does not reach the bottom and a Garrick happens to take the bait your line could break on the slide. Once the bait is finally at the bottom the wait begins. I will cover the pick up and strike after I cover the Throw Bait explanation.

Okay, the throw bait uses a similar trace to our Slide Trace with the only differences being a slightly lighter sinker and the slide is replaced with a power swivel. The sinker can be a 6 or 7 ounce grapnel. Once you have tied your trace secure your hooks onto your live bait. Move down as close to the waters edge as possible and throw the bait out. You won’t be able to get much distance but for Garrick this is not required. Also, be careful when throwing this bait as your rod may not be able to handle the large weight, so ensure that you use a smaller live bait. Once your bait is in the water you are ready for the wait.

Garrick have a peculiar way of feeding. Although they will attack your bait aggressively you should not be tempted to strike immediately. Allow the fish to take on your bait. It will pick up the live bait and their instinct is to swim as fast as possible away from where they obtained their food. The reason for this is to protect their food from the other fish. When one Garrick has a bait in it’s mouth, other Garrick will try to get that same bait so the Garrick instinctively swim away when it has food in it’s mouth. Always keep your drag loose so that if you get a pick-up the fish can swim away unhindered. At this point, a trick that most anglers use is to release the clutch lever on your reel and free spool the fish. Remember to guide the spool with your hand so as to prevent an overwind. While doing this tighten your drag and get ready for the strike. Once the fish slows down it’s run, it will begin to eat the bait. This is when you lock your clutch lever, tighten your line and strike. At least two solid strikes are necessary. Something that anglers do is strike several times. This more often than not results in a loss of the fish, as they end up ripping the bait and hooks right out of the fishes mouth.

Once hooked, release your drag slightly so that you have room to play if the fish is big and if it is a strong fighter. If you are on a rocky ledge locate a landing spot and move slowly towards it. At this point I want to stress a point, please enjoy the fight. You have just spent the better part of two to three hours trying to hook into this fish. Why would you want to end it all in 5 minutes? Many anglers tend to rush the fight. They want the fish on the beach in record time. They forget to enjoy fighting the fish. If the fish is pulling hard, then give it some line. Release your drag and allow it to run a bit but always remember to maintain tension in the line.


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  1. This is a very imformative post, i like it.

    • Thanks!

  2. Been searching for something like this, fantastic article!

    • Thanks for the great feedback!

  3. Excellent information, very informative and a big help to the new Garrick fisherman, well presented.

    • Thanks, we are happy that you enjoyed it!

  4. This was really an awesome article,feel like packing my bag up and heading for the beach right now.

    • Thanks Mellon, we are happy that you enjoyed it!

  5. Thank you for the info. just by reading it , it seems like I’m on with a Garrick…. lol
    Hopefully using this info I can hook up on one this season.
    Much appreciated.

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