Piper While most people regard fresh piper (garfish) as one of the ‘ultimate’ snapper and kingfish baits, those in the know also appreciate this ‘upside-down-marlin’ for its table qualities.
The easiest way to catch these little guys is to drag a bait-net in the surf line or along a beach or mudflat, but the job can be made much more challenging by using a rod and reel!
Fine line in the two-kilo range is perfect. Attach a float, a small length of trace and a size 20 or 22 sprat hook and you are ready to go. A great bait is a coarse dough made from flour and a little water and rolled with cotton wool to keep it together. Otherwise, slightly wet a small piece of bread, which can then be balled up around the hook. Other baits include processed cheese, pipi or squid, the secret being to keep it small – no larger than an average- sized pea.

A small amount of berley, wetted and broadcast over the general area you want to fish – normally from a jetty or wharf, or a boat moored in the shallows – will draw piper to your bait.
Like any fish, piper need to be treated well to get the best out of them tastewise and this means keeping them cool with ice.
To cook piper, head, gut and gill the fish then gently roll with a rolling pin or bottle to break the backbone and make it easy to remove the flesh when eating. Piper/garfish have many fine scales, which can be washed off under the tap while rubbing gently with your fingers. Dry thoroughly before cooking. Sam Mossman recommends cooking your piper whole, just gutting them before cooking. Make a small cut in the tail and place the bill through it to form a circle with the fish. After cooking, the fish is straightened and the flesh comes away easily from the bone.


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