Aussie salmon are one of Australia's most accessible sportfish that give Fishos of all shapes and sizes the chance to tangle with a hard-fighting pelagic. Although most people think of bagels and cream cheese when they hear the word 'salmon', these missiles with fins aren't the smoked variety you'll find in the supermarket fridge. Our Aussie sambos are the kind that cause reels and Fishos alike to scream with joy. Aussie salmon are wide-spread and can be found in coastal locations around Australia, and even across the ditch in New Zealand waters where they're known as Kahawai. They can be caught all year round but run the hottest through the cooler months when they school up in massive clumps off our many surf beaches. Whether you're at the beach, on the jetty, or floating around in the big blue, there's no shortage of places to get the heart pumping with a sambo at the end of your line. So, get geared up and get out there with our how-to guide to catch an Australian salmon today!
Where to catch Australian salmon?
The first part of catching Aussie salmon is finding them, and often this can be the hardest part of the battle if you don't know what you're looking for. When most people think of sportfish, they think of heading well offshore to put a bend in their rod, but you don't have to look too far to bump heads with these guys. A lot of the time, these fish are right under our noses and can be caught in numbers right around the Australian south coast. From Western Australia, all the way around to Victoria, and up the east coast as high as Brissy, you'll find Sambos!
Australian salmon are a coastal-dweller and like any fair dinkum Aussie, love hanging out at the beach. So, a great first point of call is to head somewhere salty that has a few waves thrown in for good measure. The south coast of Australia is littered with great beaches to catch salmon, giving you plenty of options to try your luck! It's important to be able to read the beach to identify any deep sections of water, or gutters, where hungry salmon could be cruising, so make sure to bring along your polarised sunnies. If you're really lucky you might even be able to see a school of salmon cruising along, these look like dark clumps of seaweed, so you'll need a keen eye and a clear day to be able to distinguish these.
The other dead giveaway that salmon are around is bird activity. You might be cruising around trying to snag yourself a feed of flatties, when in the distance you see birds diving full pelt into the water. That's your sign to get the rods out of the water and get motoring to see what all the fuss is about. If you arrive and the fish are busting up near the surface, it's time to tie on a metal lure or even a soft plastic and get casting!
Best bait for salmon
Some of the best salmon baits include fishy baits such as mackerel, pilchard, and bluebait as well as a couple other popular saltwater baits such as the ever-reliable squid strip. Bait fishing for salmon can provide some ripper fun and you never know what else you can catch by throwing out a bit of bait.
The best way to rig up these baits is by tying a paternoster rig. This has the sinker on the bottom, and the hook coming off a dropper loop higher up the line. If you're fishing in the surf, you can pimp your rig and boost your chance of locking horns with a salmon by tying a surf popper above your hook. These feathery little contraptions have accounted for their fair share of salmon over the years and are perfect for when the fish are swimming near or at the surface. If tying rigs isn’t your strong point, head in-store or shop online and grab a pre-tied surf popper rig
While nabbing a salmon on bait provides some fun, without a shadow of a doubt the best and most exciting way to target salmon is with lures, and these brutes will whack anything from soft plastics to the ever popular metal slab. Check out our favourite lures and methods down below
Best lures for salmon
Metal lures for salmon
Metal lures are the most popular lure to target salmon and come in a range of different weights and colours, which gives you the chance to ‘match the hatch’. Matching the hatch simply means tying on a lure that’s the right size and colour to match the baitfish that the salmon are feeding on. Sambos can sometimes be pickier than a toddler with their veggies, so it pays to bring a range of metals along. You can drag them behind the boat and let the shimmer catch the eye of an interested salmon or you can even cast and retrieve them off the beach or the jetty. One of the biggest advantages to metal lures is that you can cast them out much further than you can many other lures. This can make a huge difference when the salmon are just out of casting distance of other lures in your tacklebox. There's something about the flash of a metal lure that the salmon just love. The old Halco twisty is one of our favourites, but there's plenty of other options out there that the salmon will gulp down like they've never seen food. Shop our full range of metal lures online or in-store and don't forget to grab a variety of weights and colours.
Soft plastics for salmon
Soft plastics are another great way to lure in a sambo and come in a massive range of colours and sizes. Combining a soft plastic with the old burn and pause technique is sure to excite a sambo. This involves casting out the plastic and giving it time to sink, before reeling the lure in at a fast pace. Throw some pauses in between the fast-winding action and you're in for a good day on the salmon. In terms of colours and sizes we'd look at those natural colours to replicate a bait fish, and anything between 2-inch to 5-inch will have you sorted size-wise. In terms of styles, it's hard to beat a curl-tail. Zman Streakz Curltailz 5" in white is an absolute pearler for bigger models, while the trusty Zman Grubz 2.5" is a winner for the smaller models
Hardbody lures for salmon
Hardbody lures fall into two main categories when it comes to salmon, diving lures that are ripper for trolling, and surface lures that come in very handy when stumbling upon one of those bust-ups we were talking about earlier. Rapala, Nomad, and Halco all have a number of cracker hardbodies to tie on. In terms of colour, it's hard to beat anything that looks fishy. Whites, blues, and fish patterns replicate a salmon's natural diet and will definitely see a few fish hit the deck. With colour sorted, it's time to have a think about size. The size of the fish you're chasing will impact the size of the lure you tie on. Most of the time a medium-sized hardbody around 50-70mm will have you sorted, but if you're on to a pack of mega-sized sambos don't be afraid to throw out a larger lure, especially when throwing stickbaits. A 120mm surface presentation is like a lollipop for big sambos.
Choosing a rod and reel for salmon
Broadly speaking there are two different set ups you need when chasing salmon, one for the beach, and one for casting and trolling off the boat or jetty.
Beach fishing for salmon
When fishing the beach for salmon, the most important thing to think about is getting a rod that's long enough to get your bait or lure over the breakers (waves breaking at the beach). If not, your bait will spend more time on shore than in the water. If you're planning on drowning a bait, we'd pick up something around the 12-foot mark, especially if dealing with some serious surf. Pair this up with a spinning reel in either the 4000 or 6000 size spooled with 20lb line and you'll be good to go. Whenever you're fishing on the beach with bait it pays to be prepared with some beach fishing accessories. The humble camp chair is never a bad idea, and surf rod holders are a must-have to keep your line above the waves, our favourite is the trusty PVC rod holder.
If you're fishing with lures you can afford to go a little bit shorter, something about 9 to 10 foot long is perfect for punching out metals. Just make sure to pick a stick that has adequate casting weight to be able to throw those heavy metals. The Shimano raider surf is sure to be a winner when chasing a sambo or two! Pair this up with a 4000 sized reel spooled with braid for that extra casting distance and you'll be winding in sambos in no time at all. When fishing with braid in the surf we'd recommend attaching a pretty reasonable leader of 15 pounds or greater. Make this a couple rod lengths long and tie your lure onto the end. As for accessories, a wading bag is great for carrying your tackle while on the move. Simply throw in a couple of tackle trays with some different lures, leader, and a pair of braid scissors and you're good to go. Taking this a step further, a sling bag like the Pryml Drift 3600 Sling Tackle Bag from Pryml is another great option for the porta-Fisho that who wants to remain mobile.
Casting and trolling for salmon
Casting and trolling for salmon are pretty different techniques, but they both require similar gear to be used when chasing sambos.
Casting for salmon is a more active style of fishing that involves throwing various lures out to the salmon school and winding them back into your feet. Salmon don't mind a bit of speed, but it always pays to throw a couple of pauses in for good measure to draw that bite.
While trolling is normally considered a pretty kick back way to hook up with our fishy friends, when it comes to salmon it's normally a different story, with non-stop action that can be pretty hard to beat. The best part about it is that after a tough day's fishing you can throw a few lures out the back and drag them back to the boat ramp along the shoreline, you never know, you might just hook up to a sambo!
For both styles of fishing we'd recommend a rod that's around the 7-foot mark, with a mid-weight rating. A stick in either 3 - 6kg or 4 - 7kg weight class is more than adequate to reel in a thumper. Paired up with a 3000 or 4000 spinning reel you should have no trouble winding in a few fish.
Cooking Australian salmon
While these fish are absolutely cracker on the line, they don't go as well on the plate. Most Fishos either throw them back to swim another day or use them for bait. Salmon are a cracker chunk bait for pretty much anything that swims.
If you do decide to take one home for the table, make sure you bleed the fish well after catching and pop it into an ice slurry to keep the fish nice and fresh. Salmon have a very thick blood line, and they taste a whole lot better when this is removed! Another option is to turn a sambo into a fish cake, it might not be a good as a choccy mudcake from woollies, but they’re still super tasty.
Aussie salmon are one of Australia's most underrated sportfish and put up one of the best fights pound for pound of anything that swims. It doesn't get much more exciting than hearing the reel zing after the big run of a salmon, and with the info provided above and some help from our BCFing Experts in-store hopefully you can tangle with a sambo soon! If you can't make it to store, you can always shop online with BCF. With two hour click & collect on offer, you can grab a couple salmon lures while the boss isn't looking!