Salmon Fishing WA: Info, Tips & Where To Catch Salmon

Known for their fast swimming and aerobatic nature, Salmon are fun-fighting fish that are targeted by many fishermen during their annual run up the southwest coast. Salmon fishing in Western Australia is a popular activity, not just among fishing enthusiasts but also among first-timers.

Salmon caught with family at Bunker Bay
Salmon caught at Bunker Bay

About Salmon

Considered a pelagic species, salmon are a powerful fish with streamlined bodies that during the season, travel from the south coast of WA all the way up to Perth.

A decent Australian salmon caught by Brett Skip

Although you get some single salmon passing through, salmon usually travel in huge schools with up to thousands of salmon in one school. Traveling in large schools they work together to herd up and feed on bait fish and other smaller species such as herring or garfish. Some other facts to note about salmon include:

  • They can grow up to around 10kg in size
  • They live for approximately 9 yrs
  • A salmon reaches maturity anywhere between 3-5 yrs

When is Salmon season in WA?

Salmon fishing can be conducted from many of the fishing locations along WA’s coastline and normally occurs during the late summer months into autumn when these fish are making their journey up the south coast to the north to spawn.

This migration of Salmon from the south coast and around is what is known as the annual Salmon run or salmon season.  The migration is at its best usually around March to April when big schools of Salmon head up and around the southwest of WA. By May they usually reach Perth and during June they turn and head back down the coast.

Where can you catch Salmon in WA?

Salmon are pelagic fish found along the coast of Western Australia (as far as north of Perth) all the way along the south coast to Western Victoria.

During the season locations from Esperance all around the coast to Bunbury are great for catching Salmon.  Below are some areas and spots to focus on.

Great Southern Area

If you’re down in the south coast of WA then here are a few areas that are known to produce Salmon:

  • Esperance
  • Hopetoun
  • Bremer Bay
  • Albany
    • Salmon Holes
    • Lowlands Beach
    • Shelleys Beach
    • Nanarup Beach
    • Cheynes Beach
    • Fosters Beach
    • Cosy Corner Beach
    • Check out our Albany fishing page for more spots >

South West Area

As the Salmon migrate up and around the southwest, they’ll start moving through areas of the South West region. Some Salmon fishing spots in the South West to consider include:

Perth and Surrounds

trigg point fishing spot
Trigg Point can be a productive fishing spot

During the annual migration, Salmon schools don’t usually reach Perth waters until May and when they do they’re nowhere as big as the schools you get congregating in the southwest. Here are a few salmon fishing spots for Perth and its surrounds:

  • Rottnest Island (West end…try Fish Hook Bay)
  • Penguin Island
  • Metro beach areas such as Floreat drain
  • Trigg Point
  • Point Peron
  • Rock walls around Fremantle harbor (North mole)
  • Rock walls surrounding Hillarys marina
  • Mandurah
    • Tims Thicket Beach
    • White Hills Beach
    • Preston Beach

Salmon Trackers: Track the schools!

When the annual Salmon run starts there is quite a buzz in the WA fishing communities and as a result, there have been a couple of great Salmon based Facebook groups that have been set up to help others not only catch salmon though to track their movements along the coast.  Below are some Facebook groups that I follow:

Video of WA Salmon schools (By Western Angler Magazine)

How to catch Salmon in WA?

When they come into areas they usually come in large schools. When this happens fisherman cast lures or free baits (such as mulie) out beyond the school and retrieve it back through. When they’re on the bite, 9 times out of 10 you’ll hook up!

If there are no schools about, try identifying deep gutters close to the shore line and cast and retrieve your bait or lures through these areas. Why? If solo salmon are moving up and down the coast it’s these areas that they are likely to move through.

What lures to use for Salmon?

Similar to other pelagic species, lures work well when fishing for salmon. When it comes to the type of lure you want to use something that is very similar to small baitfish in appearance. I usually fish with metal slices, stick baits and poppers, though soft plastics work well too. Below are some of the lures I take with me when I’m fishing for salmon;

richter plug surface lures for catching salmon
Richter surface lures are great for skipping along the surface when bait balls are around. I have the most success with white.
Hardy headz lure for salmon fishing
A recent but effective lure to hit the market is the hardy headz series – great for casting long distances too!
hard body shallow diving lure for salmon
Similar to a mullie, Jackie’s minnows work well on a slow retrieve
Halco chrome twisty lures
The old trusty chrome twisty from Halco has never let me down
Salmon caught with a lure at Bunker Bay Dunsborough
Here’s a photo of a salmon caught on a chrome twisty at Bunker Bay

When it comes to retrieving the lure you want to try and mimic a batfish cutting through the water… fleeing from trouble. Such a retrieval will help get the Salmon excited and hopefully resulting in a hook-up!

5 must lures for Australian Salmon (by Halco)

Bait fishing for Salmon

In addition to lures, baits are also commonly used for salmon. When bait fishing my go-too is a set of gang hooks with a mullie as bait. When the schools are in, a free weighted mullie skipping along the surface behind a blob float often produces the goods.

Floating mullie rig for catching salmon
Pre-made blob float salmon rigs can be purchased from the shops

Or alternatively, if there is a bit of current and you want your bait to hold then a gang hook setup with a star sinker works well.

Bottom fishing rig for salmon
Example of a salmon rig with a sinker – available at most tackle stores

Best live baits for salmon?

If for some reason the salmon are not showing interest in either lures or bait, then your next option is live bait. For this, I’d recommend a live herring or whiting. Herring would be the preferred option as these are naturally what salmon are hunting for, though if small sand whiting are around these are also likely to do the trick!

Saltwater fly fishing for Salmon

Although somewhat challenging, fly fishing for Salmon is another great method for catching salmon. It’s quite hard to fly fish for Salmon off the coast as the schools rarely come close enough, hence catching salmon on fly is more suited when fishing off a boat (ideally with an open deck for working the fly).

Large white or light blue flies are a great choice when fly fishing for salmon.

What fishing gear to use to catch salmon?

I like to fish light when chasing salmon as the lighter the gear the better the fight.  With this in mind, I usually fish with a spinning outfit rated from 6-8kg running a mono leader of 10-12kg.

What to pack when Salmon fishing?

fishing gear to take salmon fishing

When it comes to salmon fishing there are two approaches you can take, one is to find your salmon fishing spot, set up, and wait for the salmon to schools to come to you.  Or, you can pack light and ensure you’re mobile enough to be able to walk along and follow the schools of salmon as they move through along the beach.

Personally, I much prefer to pack light and ensure I’m in a position where I can move along the beach looking for schools, or if a school comes through I can walk along casting out to the school as they swim along.

With this in mind, I usually only take my rod and a backpack such as the above.  This way I’ve got both options covered and can either stay put or move along the beach easily.

Can you eat WA Salmon?

Yes, you can definitely eat Australian salmon, however, compared to other fish that can be caught in west aussie waters they’re not up there as the best eating.

I’ve found that the key to getting the best-tasting salmon is to ensure you bleed it straight after you’ve caught it and then ensure it’s placed on ice immediately (a nice ice slurry in the esky does the trick!).

When it comes to cooking salmon there are a number of different methods, I usually like to fillet the salmon into small pieces and chuck it in a curry – however, I’ve heard others rate salmon cooked via BBQ smoker. For those that are interested, below is how I like to make salmon curry…

Aussie Salmon Curry Dish

First, depending on how many you are feeding, cut one to two nice fillets off the salmon and dice them into small bit size pieces;

Cut up vegetables for the curry – in my curry I like to have onion, broccoli, cauliflower and carrot though feel free to add whatever veggies you like;

Vegatables for australian salmon

Prepare the curry using a mixture of coconut milk and curry paste;

Making the curry sauce for cooking salmon

Add the veggies and salmon and stir gently whilst it cooks;

Stirring the salmon curry

Behind the scenes cook your rice and to top it off chuck some naan bread in the oven too.

Not long after you’ll have a delicious aussie salmon curry ready for serving!

Australian salmon curry

Salmon rules and regulations

Before you plan to head out and catch a feed of salmon, be sure to check out the latest rules and regulations for Salmon, including the minimum size limit and the daily bag limit.

Below are a collection of photos of salmon caught within WA waters.

Anton Pope with Australian salmon caught in Albany
Anton with a Salmon caught in Albany | Photo by @rothy_mate
Salmon caught by Ben from Northern Addicts
Salmon caught at Bunker Bay WA
Australian salmon caught at Bunkers Bay near Dunsborough

Salmon videos

Check out the below footage of some great Salmon being caught off the coast of WA.

Salmon Predators

In addition to being targeted by West Aussie fisherman, WA salmon are also hunted by a number of larger ocean predators such as sharks, seals, sea lions, and dolphins.

Therefore, if you are out snorkeling, diving or swimming where there are salmon schools around always be mindful that it’s highly likely there could be larger predators such as great whites may be lurking around.

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