South Oz Salmon

By Jamie Crawford

We’re pretty fortunate here in SA to have Aussie salmon available on our surf beaches year-round. Our Aussie salmon, although not a high-end table fish, are a great sportfish and especially when caught from the surf. They hit lures aggressively, they jump and they fight all the way until the bitter end. Even in the dying stages of the fight where there’s only a few inches of water they still point their nose towards the horizon and keep trying to escape.

We have some great surf beaches here in SA where we can catch salmon year-round – depending on the conditions of course. If we have a high-tide shortly after sunrise or again late in the afternoon, then chances are some salmon will cruise within our near-shore gutters scouring for an easy meal.

We have some great surf beaches along the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula, and this is without doubt the ‘salmon coast’ of our state. From Coffin Bay in the south up to Streaky Bay in the north we have probably 20 beaches that all produce great salmon fishing on their day. This stretch of coast includes the famed beaches of Gunyah, Almonta, Sheringa, Locks Well, Mount Camel and Talia, but there are also a dozen or so lesser known beaches which also offer fantastic fishing.

Winter is the prime time for numbers of large salmon in the surf, but consistent fishing is still on offer outside of these cooler months. The average size of fish is often smaller during the summer months, but if you manage to coincide a high tide with medium swell, then these inshore gutters will fill with water and will encourage fish close to shore.

Bait fishing is popular with most locals, but for the sportfishing aspect I prefer to grab a handful of lures and walk the beach, firing metal lures into the suds. The hook-up of a solid salmon in the surf on a lightweight casting outfit is great fun. You will lose more salmon on lures as they cartwheel out of the water and throw the lure, but it’s an active form of fishing and quite visual. In clean conditions you can sometimes spot a pack of fish trailing your lure down the face of a wave, climbing over each other while trying to eat your lure – it’s pretty cool.

A lightweight rod of around 9 to 10ft in length and rated at 6 – 8kg is perfect for this style of fishing, and when coupled to a 5000 sized spin reel spooled with 20lb braid it represents a light surf outfit capable of casting small metal lures an absolute mile. I have a 9ft Dialuna that I use in the surf and it’s such a good rod for casting and fighting fish – surprisingly powerful for such a lightweight rod. Other good rod options include the 9’ Revolution Coastal rated at 6 – 10kg and the Maikuro 9ft rod rated at 6 – 8kg.

I have a 5000 Stradic FK that I use on my Dialuna, but there are plenty of other great reel options capable of fishing 20lb in the surf, including the Twin Power XD, Sustain and Ultegra reels. As for lures, 40 to 60g metal profile lures cast really well in the surf, and if the fish are schooled up in the shallows, casting soft plastics are a good option too.

While Aussie salmon may not have the reputation that some other hard-hitting targets do, they are still a great southern species and a worthwhile target in the surf.