Curious creature

Garfish lives in shoals in the open sea, but it’s a curious creature and likes to come closer to the bays and parts of the coast with strong currents. The fish lives in the northern Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It can grow up to 30 inches (80 cm) and weighs up to 2 pounds (1 kg). Garfish are traditionally fished in spring.


English: sea needle

Italian: aguglia

Croatian: gla, iglica, jaglica

Slovene: iglica, igla

French: orphie

Spanish: aguja

Portuguese: agulha

German: gewöhnlicher Hornhecht

teeth which resemble a saw 

 The garfish is a gluttonous fish with a lean, slender body, silky smooth skin, protective dark blue colours on its back and a silvery shimmer on both its sides and abdomen. The lower part of its jaw is longer than the upper part and its tiny teeth, which resemble a saw, ensure that captured prey doesn’t escape its flexible snout.

Garfish like to mingle with mackerels

They spend the greater part of their life in the surface layer of the sea, less than 20 metres deep, and follow a migratory pattern similar to the mackerel. Even their diets are similar – they feed on fingerling sardines and anchovies, so it’s not surprising that they join shoals of mackerel, chub mackerel and horse mackerel.

Live bait for larger fish

Along the coast of Istria, garfish are traditionally fished in the spring. They are fished with hooks if they are to be used as live bait to catch dentex, leerfish, the greater amberjack, seabass or larger blue fish, such as tuna or bonito.

In high regard by gourmets

Its flesh is white and has a delicate, pleasant flavour. It’s less oily than the sardine and consequently easier to digest, so it is held in high regard by fishermen and seafood gourmets alike.

Fluorescent skeleton

When preparing it at home for the first time, do not be alarmed by the fluorescent blue-green skeleton – staining is a completely harmless chemical reaction that has no bearing on health, nor on a good appetite.


Oven-baked garfish rings, in the Blue book, page 162