Kids Gear Up For Gar
  |  First Published: December 2009

For a lot of parents the tail end of school holidays can be a real challenge: The kids are starting to get bored but you still haven’t recovered from the financial strain of Christmas. Thankfully there is a solution and it’s all down to the humble garfish.

A few years ago I found the perfect setting for family fishing at Bullocky Rest. It is located on the banks of Lake Samsonvale near Petrie on Brisbane’s north side. The facilities are provided and maintained by Seqwater and the fish are stocked by the local fish management group, Pine Rivers Fish Management Association.

The area has safe accessible banks, a BBQ, a playground, plenty of shady structures, and the most incredible fishing spot that literally holds schools of garfish numbering in the thousands.

Snub-nosed garfish are a great species for kids to target when learning to fish. Once attracted to an area, garfish will stay as long as bait is in the water. They aren’t spooked by moving bait and with the right rig they will virtually hook themselves. The bite is fast and furious, which means the kids won’t bet too bored.

I’ve fished the location for a number of years and on my most recent trip with other PRFMA members we took along a group of kids organised by our local MP, Peter Dutton.

We took 25 children aged 5-12 years old. Most of the participants hadn’t fished before but in a little over two hours the group managed to catch and release over 240 garfish. More importantly, every kid managed multiple captures and no one missed out on the thrill of landing a fish.

There is something very special about seeing a youngster catch their first fish, and if you follow the tips listed below I can almost guarantee that you’ll get to see your own kids having a ball.


Garfish in Lake Samsonvale are best targeted over summer; December/January is the peak time.

Wind direction and speed play a fairly significant role when fishing this location. Around the public areas at Bullocky Rest, the preferred wind direction is anywhere from northeasterly through to southeasterly. If it’s blowing from the west leave the fishing gear at home.

As a general rule of thumb, when bank fishing you need the wind at your back. You can catch them on a dead still day, but a little breeze is better, and up to around 15 knots is still okay. If it’s above 20 knots, you are better off packing a kite.

The gear used will also have a big impact on the gar. Use the lightest line that you have, 4lb is spot on but 6-8lb is still acceptable. For hook size, anywhere between No.10 and No.16 size hooks are ideal. As a general rule, the younger the kids are, the smaller the hooks need to be.

Don’t forget to crush the barb on the hook, it’s a lot safer around the young ones and it will allow you to shake the fish off the hook if you are practicing catch and release. Gar are very fragile and once handled tend to die.

For the greatest success rate use a quill float. The cheaper plastic ones are the most effective as they seem to hold the line better during casting so the hook stays at the depth you have set it. Don’t use any split shot or sinkers as the weight can put gar off the bite, and with light line you will be able get the bait out far enough anyway. Set the float 30-40cm above the hook.

The simplest and most effective bait to use is small pea-sized pieces of raw prawn. Ensure you leave the point of the hook exposed.


The technique for catching gar is quite simple.

Start by breaking up pea-sized pieces of bread and flicking them a couple of metres out into the water, usually a slice or two of bread is all that is required. The breeze will float the berley out and attract a school in close to the bank. If you do this before setting up, the fish will often be in place when your first bait goes in the water.

Cast the bait out anywhere between 2-5m to be in the strike zone. Simply get the child to watch the float closely, as soon as you see the float start to be towed, ask them to strike and start winding. The garfish will often jump and tail walk as they come in, making this a very exciting form of fishing.


Lake Samsonvale is part of the Stocked Impoundment Scheme and as such people aged 18 years and over need a permit to fish. Funds raised from the scheme go back into restocking efforts for over 30 dams around Queensland.

Boating and Fisheries Patrol officers stopped by and checked us out at the Learn To Fish day. So do make sure you pick up a permit from your local tackle store before visiting. – Shayne Dumma, PRFMA

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