Species Guide


Red Gurnard | Latchet | Flying Gurnard | Kumukumu | Carrots | Grunters
Scientific Name
Chelidonichthys cuculus
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Gurnard max out at 2.8kg and 65cm, but most average 35 – 50cm weighing in at between 0.5kg – 1.4kg.


In New Zealand, the minimum length is 25cm, and bag limits vary depending on where you’re fishing, so ensure you know the local rules.

In Australia, size and bag limits vary by state. Please check your state fishing authority website for more information.


Gurnard are a long slender ‘carrot’ shaped fish with a reddish-pink body with a totally white underside.

They have large pectoral fins which open up like wings featuring blue, white and black spots.

They also have modified fins or ‘legs’ under their wings, which they use to stir up the sea floor in search of food. Their diet consists of small crabs, shrimp, small fish, and worms.

Gurnard have large spiny armour plates on their heads, reaching just in front of the dorsal fin, which protects them from struggling prey.

When brought into the boat they will often grunt by expelling air from their swim bladder, hence the nickname ‘Grunter’.

These fish are a prized table fish by many Kiwis and many people choose them over Snapper. They have lovely pink/white flesh, which has a distinct sweet flavour. So don’t have scales, so the skin can be left on.

Gurnard live to about 16 years and reach maturity at 2 – 3 years old at a fork length of 23cm. Once mature their growth rate slows significantly. Females grow faster and larger than males.


Gurnard are found over an open sandy or muddy bottom, as this is where they hunt paddle crabs and shrimp.

They generally live in shallow water but can also be caught in offshore waters over 100m deep. During spawning in summer they will be most commonly found in 40 – 50m of water, but at other times of the year, they are found in 15 – 30m of water.


The best places in New Zealand to find gurnard are Hawkes Bay, Taranaki, Manawatu, Wellington, Gisborne, Marlborough, Tasman, Nelson, North Canterbury, Manukau Harbour, and Kaipara Harbour. Smaller populations exist in the Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, and Northland’s east coast.

Gurnard can be caught all year round across the North Island, with conditions peaking before spawning in October – November and again post spawn March – June.


They’re most commonly found along the southern coastlines from Shark Bay in Western Australia around to the east coast (including Tasmania), as far north as the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef.

You’ll find gurnard from around 80m down to the continental shelf, usually over sand or broken ground near reefs, but can also be found in shallower waters.


Gurnard are not strong fighters. Their main attraction for recreational anglers is their good eating quality.

There are a number of ways to catch gurnard, so it comes down to personal preference.


Ledger and paternoster rigs are commonly used as they keep your bait near the bottom where gurnard feed. A light leader and smaller hooks usually achieve a better hook up rate. Recommended baits are small chunks of squid, pilchard or bonito.


The original flasher rig, hand rigged in New Zealand for over 25 years.

Our ‘Gurnard Grabber’ Snatcher® is rigged with 60lb Tough Trace, a 4/0 KL Red hook and a 10kg barrel swivel.

All our Snatcher® rigs include soft lumo beads, UV and/or lumo material in the skirts to make them even more enticing.


Easy to use rigs for all levels of angler, from kids right through to experienced fishos.

Snapper Snacks® come pre-rigged on a meter of 60lb or 80lb Tough Trace with a 3/0, 5/0, or 7/0 KLT® hook.

The recurve style KLT® hook means you don’t need to strike when a fish takes the bait.

Best fished with a thin strip of bait to maintain the natural swimming action of the skirt. Just make sure the barbs of the hook are well exposed.


Soft baits or slow jigs can also be used to target Gurnard.

When fishing with soft baits, adjust the weight of your jig head to keep your lure on or very near the bottom, and ensure your retrieve is slow and don’t lift the rod too high. The higher you “hop” the jig, the more likely it will be hit by another species like Kahawai.

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