by Shane Murton
If you're an SA fisho, the winter months are the time to get excited as one of our great sportfishing opportunities comes online; namely the arrival of large schools of hungry Australian salmon. It's that time of year already when big daytime tides and pumping surf combine to offer the perfect playground for this much loved species.
Hooked-up and leading another big salmon in. Lighter graphite rods like this 9ft Shimano Jewel are ideal for surf salmon work.
All of SA's top salmon location start to fire over the next few months. The wild west coast will undoubtedly produce the biggest and best salmon in the state at locations such as Locks Well and Scotts Beach, as well as all those beach in between. This said, you can't write off locations such as lower Yorke Peninsula, the SE around Kingston, Robe and Salt Creek, Kangaroo Island's Hanson Bay and Snelling Beach and even more metro areas such as Waitpinga and Parsons to produce the moments of lure fishing brilliance.
Salmon fishing is all about enjoying the sport they offer, more so than filling up an esky of fillets. In recent years there's been a clear shift away from using heavy tackle on sambos. Once a 12ft plus rod and large threadline or overhead loaded with 10 to 15kg mono was the norm for these fish. Thankfully a more sporting approach seems to be dominating the salmon scene now, which has been infiltrated by braided lines, graphite rods and small yet powerful threadlines. All this means more fun, and more efficient fishing for this high-flying fish - even more so when a few modern lure types are thrown into the mix.
A 9ft graphite rod fitted with a 4000 sized reel loaded with 15lb braid can cast a country mile and will offer sufficient distance to fish poppers, stickbaits and metals etc. Not forgetting pilchards and surf poppers if you prefer to setup in front of a deep gulch of water and wait for the fish to come to you. A lighter outfit also enables long sessions of casting and won't wear you out. Try heaving a 12 foot glass rod and snapper-sized reel all day long and see how your shoulders feel at the end of it. Ouch!
Metal lures have their place for this fishing and are a reliable option. Note the single hook fitted.
A fat sambo that couldn’t refuse a Halco popper.
To complement this sporty gear is a range of lures to throw at these fish. Metals will always have their place for surf sambos, as they enable long, accurate casts which can sometime be essential if you have a school of fish holding a long way out from the shore. Metals can also be punched into strong winds which are so prominent in such a high energy environment as a surf beach. Lures such as Raiders, Halco Twisties and the newly released Halco Outcast are a few more popular selections in this lure genre.
Metal slices are a great fallback, although for more visual action it's hard to beat surface lures like poppers and stickbaits. Such options offer the ultimate salmon rush, and they're capable of being used in many commonly fished SA sambo areas. Poppers such as the Halco Roosta, Sebile Splasher, Strike Pro Lazerlite and models from Yo-Zuri in the 12-18cm range are ideal. Be sure to pick a lure with enough weight to it to enable decent casts into an onshore wind.
There's scope to use a wide range of lures on these fish. Mix it up and enjoy!
Surface lures are undoubtedly more deadly when you can see a visible school of salmon and work the lure over them. Watching a pack of these green-backed scuds peel off from the pack and chase your lure sometimes to your feet, is southern lure fishing at its adrenaline charged best.
If you're after a lure encounter with a big sambo, those of several kilos of more which SA is renowned for, then you need to pack light and be mobile with your approach. Waders, a backpack and a single outfit is the ideal amount of gear to enable you to walk a beach and target all the likely zones these fish could be holding in, or swimming through.
Using poppers is the ultimate way to enjoy these fish!
If visible schools can't be spotted then concentrate casts on any deeper patches of water. Don't think you need to fish overly deep gutters when luring salmon, as they'll often move through white, churning water as it provides plenty of cover. Poppers and stickbaits are ideally suited to milder surf conditions and semi-protected beaches, while metal lures are the all-rounder that can fish any sambo water you care to mention.
With a perfectly matched rod and reel outfit and a sporty lure hanging from its tip, you have what I believe is the most enjoyable way to catch this southern icon this winter. Best of luck in your quest for that 10lb plus monster we all want!