“The results of the spawner-biomass-per-recruit (SBPR) model indicate that L. amia is at 14% of its unfished level. According to the South Africa‟s Linefish Management Protocol (LMP), the L. amia stock has thus collapsed and appropriate management options to rebuild the stock are discussed.”

Daniel Smith, MSc Thesis (2008): Movement, growth and stock assessment of the coastal fish Lichia amia (Teleostei: Carangidae) off the South African coast.

Back in 2008 there was scientific evidence that our garrick population was rapidly declining. One of the primary causes resulting in the collapse of our garrick fish stock is the degradation of estuaries, an important part of the garrick lifecycle. Simply put, estuaries are the safe havens of baby garrick.

Speaking of baby garrick, these pretty little fish are frequently encountered when targeting saltwater fish along the South African coastline and many fly anglers will be familiar with them. They are, unfortunately, so eager that they will take almost any fly, from large Clouser Minnows to tiny Charlies and even ‘bread’ flies meant for mullet.

Juvenile garrick are super aggressive and even when you are not actively targeting them, they will eat a fly meant for other fish. This little bugger was accidentally caught while dredging a deep channel for kob with a rabbit fur Clouser.


Baby garrick are pretty little things, and always a fun by-catch in estuaries. But that is what they should remain, a by-catch and not a main target. This one got lucky with relatively little damage after it eagerly ate a Charlie while targeting saltwater species (in general) in the mouth of an estuary.

While many fly anglers have accidentally caught juvenile garrick during a saltwater mission, some folks are actively targeting them (and unfortunately also advertising it on social media). It is so easy to fall for these aggressive little fish and one can typically catch many of them in a session, a lot of fun at the time, but the reality is that you are also compromising and even killing many of these baby garrick by causing damage to their fragile mouths (and heads). The image below recently featured on social media and it reminded me to write about this, as with personal experience catching these little fish I’ve noticed how many get injured, badly, by the hook. They are so fragile that many of them are lethally damaged by the relatively large hooks we use for saltwater fish.

Compromising and causing potentially lethal damage to baby garrick is unavoidable when catching them with flies (such as a hook penetrating the eye) – please do not actively target them.

I simply don’t target them anymore; if I catch one by mistake, I quickly release it and may even move to a different spot to avoid the school of baby garrick in that area. I have found that targeting the larger specimens to be way more fun and fulfilling. The powerful fight from bigger garrick (>50 cm) is a memorable experience – they typically run you into the backing on the first run – and it is well worth the effort to fish for them.

Actively targeting larger garrick by catch and release fishing should be the goal with Lichia amia; you will automatically avoid hooking baby fish and by returning adults to the ocean you’ll be securing future stock of this rapidly declining fish.

The bigger fish also typically occur in areas where you are less likely to find their babies. By avoiding baby garrick in their nurseries (i.e., healthy estuaries) you will certainly help to boost the garrick population and hopefully secure its future. After all, it is a prime saltwater gamefish in our country, so please do not actively target their fragile offspring.

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