Australian Salmon are the epitome of the tough Anzac digger. Their fighting skills are paramount as they battle with bold courage and sheer muscle. They know every trick in the book to save themselves from capture with long blinding sprints, shivering headshakes and surface leaps sometimes reaching terrific heights with their gills flared and tails a dancing. Aussie are a common species available from a wide variety of environments in the southern two thirds of the country from east to west.
Their great range and coastal habits make them an ideal target for fisho’s from novice to expert. They will also take a wide range of baits and lures and can be found on most surf beaches, river mouths and coastal estuaries further increasing their appeal to travelling fishers.
There are perhaps millions of kids that have cut their angling teeth with an Aussie Salmon as their first capture, and the performance they put on the line leaves a lasting memory hooking the novice. Salmon are a schooling fish so it’s very uncommon to just catch one although their feeding patterns can be turned on and off almost instantly by tidal movements, sun rise and set, moon phases and other climatic variances.
The salmon will regularly feast in the white-water of a surf beach. They love the top end of a rising tide when the waves dislodge all manner of goodies like crabs, shrimp and worms from their sandy hollows triggering feeding frenzy’s where the water boils with excitement. The top of the tide also allows anglers access to the deep gutters where baitfish also school to feed and the salmon round em up! They just love oxygenated water so some rocky structure such as a bommie or headland may also be a great place to hunt.
However, don’t confine your fishing only to the top of the tide as little Aussie battlers are just as likely to show up anytime. Aussie Salmon will often be found in the run out of nutrients at a river mouth on a dropping tide or run up an estuary mouth with the first clean water of a flood tide. That is a terrific time to be waiting with the kids on the riverbanks or jetty structures throwing all manner of baits and lures to attract the veracious feeders.
You will often find crashing schools that are easily identified by flocks of terns and gulls diving like kamikaze pilots in an amazing aerial display. This really gets the adrenaline flowing.
The bulk of the Salmon’s diet is made up of bait fish hence smallish flashy lures are favoured. There’s a million options like wobblers, slices and lasers that give you the weight to cast from the shoreline, or if you want to get really technical there’s poppers, divers and flick lures that can be deadly. The trick is to try to match the bait they are feeding on, but still have the weight to cast into the hot spot.
For bait presentations the good old paternoster rig is as good as any, but it must be geared up to suit the conditions. You may need to upgrade to fluorocarbon traces in the surf, especially since you never know when the toothy tailor may arrive in the same waters. You may also find a gummy shark, flathead or mulloway as by-catch but you may also need to cast some heavy sinkers..
Pilchards can be deadly for the larger fish but generally cut pilchards and the hardy salted white and bluebait works very well. Salmon also love smelly soft baits like pipi and mussel in the estuaries where we often find the smaller specimens often called “bay trout”.
Whilst the eating qualities of Aussie Salmon aren’t terrific I know plenty of people that love them. Be sure to bleed and cool them immediately or the flesh will sour. For me they make a wonderful base for Thai fish patties.
Thankfully Australian Salmon can be found all year round and make a great target for winter fishing. Our wonderful Salmon really are the fish for all Aussies in search of a piscatorial battle!