Found in bays and open seas from depths of 0-100 metres. Schools shoal and spawn near the water surface in spring and summer and move into deeper water in other seasons.
A popular bait due to the extremely oily nature of the flesh. Used by anglers for catching species such as Australian salmon, snapper and tailor. Becoming increasing popular as an eating fish.
Will shed scales and die quickly when taken out of the water so should be chilled rapidly to prevent deterioration.
Whole fish should be scaled, gutted and cleaned thoroughly. There are many small, soft bones and large scales, both of which are easily removed. The edible skin can be left on. Sardines have a strong flavour and moist, oily, soft reddish-brown flesh.
To butterfly whole sardine: slice down full length of belly of gutted fish until just before the tail, place bellydown on a chopping board and roll gently with a rolling pin several times to flatten. Pull the head up and away towards the tail, removing head and bones together.
Panfry, bake, grill, barbecue, smoke, pickle. Handle carefully as their soft flesh falls apart easily. Goes well with breadcrumbs, chilli, garlic, herbs, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper.
Sardine stock status - see the IMAS Tasmanian Scalefish Fishery Assessment
Review of Australia's small pelagic fisheries - Insights to inform the development of a potential new Tasmanian sardine fishery