Outdoor Articles

East Coast Australia Salmon

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Salmon Fishing

I’d been in Kiama since Saturday, after looking forward so much to this week away, my mind body and spirit were ready for some sustenance. Kiama is approximately a one and a half hour picturesque, easy drive south of Sydney CBD, Australia. I hadn’t been fishing for such a long time, and this was the perfect opportunity to see whether I’d lost any of my touch with the rod and reel. The weather had been somewhat of a mixed bag for the first few days, however Tuesday saw conditions settle to a calm sea and light westerly winds. Myself, Marguerite, Kay and Jerry spent most of the day taking in the extraordinary vistas the South Coast has to offer. Of course the women had to visit every shop from Kiama to Berry with Jerry and myself in tow, but this was a small price to pay considering the warm autumn sun and splendid Cafés.

My intention was to have a reasonably early night that evening so as to be up before sunrise the next day and on the rocks casting by first light, however when you’re with friends you’ve known for nearly thirty years and haven’t seen for some time the night got away from us a little. One humorous story led to another glass of wine which led to another joke and so on, I’m sure most people have shared the same experience. As the night drew on, so came the 35-knot south-westerly change, which dampened my hopes a little for the next day, but by 5am the winds had subdued to around 10 to 15 knots and the seas calmed to about half a metre due to the strong off-shore winds during the night.

Unfortunately my friend Jerry is not a fisherman, and was suggesting that I had rocks in my head to be getting up that early to face the elements, however he does like to eat fish and promised he would be out of bed before his usual 9.30am rise, if he smelt the slightest hint of fish cooking for breakfast. April is a great time of the year for Australian east coast Salmon so I targeted this species; they’re not a particularly prized fish, however they are a spirited fighter often leaping out of the water endeavouring to throw the hooks, and really not that hard to catch with a little knowledge and the right tackle.

I was awake and dressed by 5.30am although, with a slightly fuzzy head from the night before, but I knew with the brisk pre-sunrise morning and salt spray in my face it wouldn’t be long before my temporary condition would no longer be even a memory. I grabbed the pilchards from the freezer and made a quick and quiet exit from the apartment so as not to disturb the non-participants and made my way to the car to gather the gear. Because the spot I had chosen to fish was only a ten-minute walk from where we were staying, I had placed just the essential tackle in a small backpack with only a large bucket and rod to carry in either hand.


By the time I’d arrived at the location, first light had kicked in and already there was another like-minded person setting up for the morning. I took my time in making my way down the rocks and in setting up, so as to check the sea condition, although I had been here on several other occasions and knew the conditions on this morning would be quite safe, however one should never take the sea for granted.

I put together my 12ft Butterworth rock and beach rod, which has a Shimano spinning reel loaded with 15-pound mono, and rigged it with a simple heavy running ball sinker to a swivel, with a half metre of 15-pound mono trace and three ganged No.2 hooks, just right for the size of pilchard I had for bait.

My first cast was a little wayward crossing to the left, in front of the man fishing beside me and of course tangled with his line as he retrieved it to re bait, fortunately this was quickly and easily solved. He must have thought he was in for a difficult morning, fishing next to a person whose hand eye coordination must have resembled one who couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time. But after apologies and a few more casts in the right direction I allayed his fears. After five to ten minutes it was all coming back to me.

Fifteen minutes had passed when I got my first strike, the rod bent sharply and I responded with firm but steady backpressure, and it was on. This fish wanted to fight it out on the surface with at least half a dozen leaps out of the water, struggling desperately to throw the hooks, but after 2 to 3 minutes I had the healthy 2 kilo Salmon on the rocks. I’d almost forgotten how good it felt to target a species and then come up with the goods. By this time my hangover was now a distant memory and I was ready for some more action.

I made several more casts loosing the baits to smaller unidentified fish, however after another 10 minutes it was on again, this time the fish wanted to fight it out deep going precariously close to submerged rocks swimming left, then right, then left again so I tightened the drag and used a little brute force to persuade it in my direction. Finally I came out the victor with another Salmon almost identical in size to the first. I decided 4 kilos of fish was sufficient to feed four people so I scaled and filleted the Salmon right there on the rocks. Unfortunately for the gentleman next to me, he could only stand there and watch as his luck had slept in that morning, although I must say he was targeting bream using cuttle fish, so I guess the bream must have slept in.
When I arrived back at the apartment my wife was up and about, and as I suspected Jerry and Kay were still luxuriating in the comfort of their warm bed. Marguerite helped me prepare two of the fillets in flour and we pan-fried them in a little butter, the smell was irresistible. It only took about 3 minutes before Jerry came into the kitchen nose first pleading to taste some of the fresh goods, which had driven him out of his blissful slumber. I told him he wasn’t getting anything until he brewed the coffee, which I might add he does very well. The other two fillets we used in a delicious seafood Laksa with prawns and muscles, which my better half conjured that evening.

It so turned out, that one morning was my only chance on the rocks as the winds strengthened to 40 – 50 knots from the southeast making the rocks not an option. But I was more than satisfied with my effort, my confidence had been restored and mind, body and spirit reenergized.

© Matthew Dilosa – UggSessed Ugg Boots – 2007

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