Fishing Rigs, surfcasting information, Fishing Tackle and Components and Fish species

Gurnard ( Chelidonichthys kumu - Red Gurnard )

Other Names:

  • New Zealand: Gurnard, Grunter
  • Australia: Gurnard, Latchett
  • Japan: Houbou
  • France: Grondin rouget
  • Germany: Knurrhahn
  • Greece: Kaponi
  • Italy: Gallinella, Capone imperiale
  • Spain: Galina, Arete, Ruibios


  • Average Length: 30 - 50 cm (12in - 20in)
  • Average Weight: 0.5 - 1kg (1lb - 2.5lb)

Found in coastal waters around New Zealand, southern Australia, South Africa and Japan. Gurnard are redish pink in color, sometimes with a grey brownish over the top area and white underneath. The surroundings can effect the color but usually only slight changes. They have large pectoral fins each with one dark spot and several small white spots, almost a similar color to a peacock tail feather. This pattern and also the small scales differentiates it from other species of Gurnards. Wide spread around New Zealand and Australia this species is often found at depths from shallow to 300ft on sandy shell seabeds .

Ideal depth for catching is around 15ft – 60 ft (5m – 20m depth) of water on shallow sandy beaches with an abundant amount of shell fish noticeable around the shore. They live most of their life just off the bottom of the sand, gliding, using their large pectoral fins to get around and find food. Their head is made up of a solid crayfish shell like structure with very sharp spikes, which makes filleting sometimes a prickly experience. The best method for killing a Gurnard quickly is several sharp blows to the head using a priest or donger. When you bring a Gurnard out of the water often you will hear the grunting noise they make. This is why they are sometimes referred to as a “Grunter”.

Baits used to catch Gurnard include Squid, Pilchard, Shellfish, Crab and Crayfish. Often they can be attracted to shiny lures and also softbait can sometimes work. Because Gurnard are bottom feeders you need to get your bait to the seabed and lure them in using berley. Best results are from boat however surfcasting, long lining also yield good results. Often you will feel nibbles or weight on your line and a Gurnard take can be very hard to judge. If you feel nibbles, let the Gurnard slowly hook itself and every so often give the line a good strike, if you don’t hook the gurnard drop your line back straight away since they often don’t spook away in a hurry.

Gurnard Fishing Rigs

Gurnard Flesh Characteristics

Gurnard are very easy to fillet due to their slender size. The fillets are a good size when compared to the size of the fish. Skinning is a good idea however not essential since their scales are so small they don’t need removing if cooking with skin on. They have a firm, pink flesh with low fat content and can be cooked in most ways. Gurnard are an amazing tasting fish and cooked well they would surpass prized fish such as Snapper for taste.

Gurnard Flesh