Home' Afloat : AFLOAT Sep 2014 Contents 44 AFLOAT.com.au September 2014
ODE TO THE AUSSIE SALMON
They churn the water to foam in great rippling schools, get the
casting arm jittering and heart racing, jump on baits, lures and
flies, fight with gusto and leap high in the air. But the omnipresent
Australian salmon is maligned.
Fact is, these great Aussie scrappers have just about everything
but exceptional eating qualities that we anglers desire. So
perhaps it’s a case of familiarity breeding contempt among the
In winter, the big salmon schools off Sydney are a saving grace.
In fact, Justin Duggan from Sydney Flyfishing Tours reckons the
‘sambos’ are an esteemed fish deserving of respect.
Saltwater fly fishers can have an absolute hoot chasing
salmon. The fish slurp down flies otherwise too small to cast
on conventional tackle, they stretch the long wands and sizzle
fly lines over the rod guides, and perform on cue for the camera.
This season has been a bumper one for big buck salmon off
Sydney, with specimens upwards of 4kg providing exceptional
sport. The all-tackle world record is a 8.74kg (near 20 pound)
monster landed at Currarong by Stephen Muller in 1994. The
fish are a regular for rock hoppers, beach fishers, boaters and
Chasing salmon in a small boat around Broken Bay or Sydney
Heads in a wintry weather adds to the excitement. And by all
means save a few for the table. Bled, fillet, bloodline removed,
the salmon flesh lends itself to hot smoking, spicy pasta dishes,
fishcakes and fresh eating.
For commercial fishers,
the salmon often serves
no other purpose than
trap bait. And for some
blinkered anglers, they are
considered a bait-thieving
scourge. But juvenile white
sharks, seals and monster
kingfish like to eat salmon,
which have a place in the
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Meantime, give some thought to reassessing your views of
the Aussie salmon. We’re blessed to have them rippling right
along the Sydney Coast at present. Gear down and enjoy the
sport. GoPro the action and show your mates.
Captain Duggan has taken time out to capture the incredible
salmon action these past few weeks using a range of lenses from
fisheye to telephoto. The results on his website certainly make
you want to chase Aussie salmon, a species likely to be swarming
in early Spring off Sydney.
It’s the most dangerous sport on earth and difficult not to feel
for the frustrated authorities left retrieving bodies and dealing
with distraught relatives. Yet despite all the weather advice and
warnings, rock-hoppers continue to flout common sense to risk
life and limb for a fish.
More than 80 rock-hoppers have been washed to the death
in NSW in the past decade, with 14 lost in the past three years
along a three-kilometre stretch of the Central Coast between
Flat Island and Wybung Head.
Statistically, this is the danger period for rock-hoppers, with
low-pressure systems, gale-force winds and towering swells
combining to spark official Safe Fishing Alerts. At the worst of
it, seas to six metres and swells to five metres storm the coast.
For those of us who grew-up by the rugged Australian coastline,
there’s an ingrained sense of respect for the ocean’s power and
the weather patterns. Yet even the most experienced can get
caught off-guard by the powerful swells generated by distant
low-pressure systems. See w ww.bom.gov.au /marine/about/
Key tips for rock-hoppers include: Always wearing a life
jacket/personal flotation device; wearing non-slip footwear
and lightweight clothing; fishing with at least two other people;
checking the local weather forecast before you go; spending 20-
30 minutes watching the wind and wave conditions from a safe
distance before deciding if a fishing spot is suitable; seeking
advice from locals and experienced anglers who know the area;
never turning your back on the ocean; and if you witness an in-
water emergency call Triple Zero.
Authorities including the NSW Water Police are angling
to make it law to wear a lifejacket when rock fishing. It’s good
practice to tug on the latest lightweight inflatable yokes anyway.
They don’t hinder casting but do saves lives. Recreational fishing
groups are extending the angel-ring program along the coast
so there are more life-rings at popular spots, too. Play it safe in
windy August. h
In winter, the big salmon schools are a saving grace.
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