Have you ever been fishing the Scandinavian coastline before after pike, sea-trout, mullet or maybe even garfish (lat. Belone belone)? The hornfisk as it is called here in Denmark is the smaller sister of the Caribbean needle-fish; with its long beak/jaw and its lean body it can grow up to 93 cm long. These energetic fellows are either loved or hated. The haters get annoyed as the garfish will ruin their beloved sea-trout fishing. They take your fly as soon as it hits the water, they mess it up due to their small fine teeth, they get properly tangled in your leader and line and last but not least they have a very sincere smell; rather fishy. The lovers however, have realized it is a great sport catching them. The fun starts in choosing the right gear; although you can use your normal coastal gear such as a #6 or #7 weight rod/line set up, the fun factor starts when going as light as a #4 or even a #3 weight rod and line.
The garfish season begins in May as the herrings leave the coast after spawning and the fields are a blaze of yellow from the rape in full bloom. High sun and a flat calm are perfect weather conditions to have a go at the hornies. The garfish migrate to the Baltic Sea every year and that is due to a simple biological urge; to mate. They arrive in flocks, and are then spreading along the coastlines just to gather in even bigger schools. Then they do what they have to do and they do it pretty obvious.
The males are chasing down the females; the water surface is literally bubbling … and this is the perfect timing to cast a fly into the group of garfish and strip, strip, strip. The aggression is enormous; heads and tails everywhere trying to take the fly. Garfish take any kind of fly between hook sizes 14 down to 4. Whereas shiny, glittery materials might increase your catch rate they seem to have no preferences in colours.
To enhance the joy of fishing for garfish take it up a notch: use mini-gurglers (ear plugs are the perfect size!) Put on a gurgler and strip in as fast as you can. The fish go absolutely bonkers!! A bunch of fish will follow your fly aggressively, snapping after it whenever they can until one hornie is finally hooked. The fight that follows is full of joy and involves speedy change of directions, jumps and a deep bend in the rod. That sounds like fun to me!
Give it a go, what about this coming weekend – Whitsun? Take your family along with you and have lots of fun oh and have a great Whitsun weekend.