Australian Sardine

Baitfish sardine
© Tasmanian Government. Image Peter Gouldthorpe
Season: Open all year

bag limit50


possession limit100


boat limit-

Limits relate to baitfish species combined.

Guide to symbols

bagBag Limit
housePossession Limit
boatBoat Limit

Minimum size


Most scalefish are measured from the nose to the end of the tail. Get your scalefish measuring ruler or sticker at any Service Tasmania outlet.

Stock status


Other names

pilchard, mulie, blue pilchard, bluebait, Australian pilchard

Scientific name

Sardinops neopilchardus

Grows to

Up to

25cm and 100 grams

Identifying features

​Has a blue-green upper surface and is silver below with a series of dark spots high on the sides. There are no scales on the head and the sides are covered by poorly attached scales. It has a single dorsal fin with soft rays.


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.

Fishing information

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


Fishwatch Report illegal fishing

0427 655 557

What to report? arrow button

Contact us

Recreational Fishing

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

Hobart TAS 7000

Phone: (03) 6165 3233, 1300 720 647


Commercial Fisheries

Level 3, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550


Commercial Fisheries Licensing

Level 1, 134 Macquarie St

GPO Box 44

Phone: (03) 6165 3000, 1300 368 550