We are lucky enough in Australia to experience this wonderful sportsfish, the Australian Salmon or scientifically known as Arripis Trutta. They have fantastic speed and often give a nice aerial display once hooked. A thrilling and exciting fish no matter what your skill level may be. Although I have never kept one to eat, I have been told that they do make good fish cakes.
What makes them such a fantastic sportsfish is that they are available to everyone whether you fish from boat or land and whether you use bait, lure or fly. A great fish to test out your skills with a variety of techniques. Some days they can be fussy depending on the size of the bait they are gorging themselves on.
If you are fishing the beaches you are looking for gutters or deeper holes where these fish will patrol the edges for baitfish. It is the same if you target them from the rock ledges. Using half pilchards or squid bait with a running sinker will work on these salmon as well as soft plastics. Either a wriggle tail or minnow shaped soft plastic will work best. Depending on the conditions of the water you are fishing, will determine what weight and rod outfit you would need to use. You would ideally look for a 9-12 foot rod with a 4000 spool and a 20lb leader ideal particularly if you need to cast heavier weights.
Lures are best used when the fish are predominately working. By working I mean attacking the baitfish and pushing them to the surface. This creates white water on the surface and normally birds feeding from the top on the baitfish that the salmon have pushed to the surface. If you keep a keen eye out you should be able to spot them from quite a distance away.
If approaching schooled fish in a boat, don’t drive through the school as you will only disburse them and put them down. Then no one is going to have any fun. Try and predict where they are swimming to and put yourself in front of them and start casting. If you keep doing this you will increase your chances of catching one.
Metal lures are best between 10-15grams. Cast to the rear of the school and wind the lure vigorously through the school. Not always guaranteed but this is your best chance of catching one. A 7ft rod with a fast speed-spinning reel is an ideal outfit for this style of fishing. When in this feeding frenzy soft plastics can also work. Throw it out, let it sink under the surface and then wind it back through the school.
I am no expert on the fly rod as I only caught my first salmon last year on fly. I had a floating line on, a 20lb leader with a green clouser. Because we had a lot of bird action on top of the water it was hard to get a cast in without hitting a bird or a bird plucking your fly from the surface. I ended up putting a sinking tippet on with a 20lb leader. You need to strip fast to keep them keen in your fly and then hang on and watch your knuckles when they take the fly and scream off at lightening speed. If you let the salmon run and do all the aerial shows they will soon enough wear themselves out. Now is the time to gain your line back.
Also if they are taking a fly rather than a larger lure or bait don’t be afraid to tie them onto your spin rods and troll them behind the boat. You will be amazed on how many fish you will catch.
You can catch salmon off the beaches all year round but the best times in the Illawarra Region are between November – February. Once you hook one you will understand while they are a great Australian sports fish.