Salmon Trout


I know. I know, we're supposed to call them just plain Salmon now, or juvenile Salmon, but most people still refer to them as Salmon Trout or just "Trout".

This Salmon Trout hit a soft plastic

Whatever you call them, they are great little fish and fight very well, just like the big ones.  I've decided to write a bit about these fish, as they have become an increasingly popular target with the soft plastic anglers.

In South Australia, Salmon Trout are very widespread.  You'll find them in estuaries like the Port River, mouths of estuaries and rivers, like Outer Harbour, Southport (Onkaparings River mouth) and the Murray Mouth.  Breakwalls are top spots too, with the Outer Harbour breakwall, North Haven breakwall and St, Kilda Breakwall all producing good catches.  They are great fun to catch in the surf, often saving the day when the big ones don't show up.  Casting small lures into the gutters on a surf beach is a good technique, or you can use smaller baits like whitebait and cockles.

I caught my first Salmon Trout at Robe in the State's south east.  It was just on dusk and I had no idea what I was doing.  I tied on a small Halco slice, about 15 grams in weight, and hurled it out.......about 10 metres.  I wound it in fast, hoping that no one had seen the pathetic cast, and it was skipping along the surface.  The fish hit it right at my feet.  After a short but feisty struggle, I landed what I thought was the world's biggest Tommy.  Only months after, when I caught another one in the Port River, did I realise it was a little Salmon.

Even the small ones fight all the way

If you have a boat, Trout are never far from shore, so it would pay to concentrate on the ends of breakwaters or offsore reefs and islands.  On a not so grand scale, I used to fish the tidal areas in the North Arm, and around the Garden and Torrens Islands.  Technique was to drag a couple of metal slices behind the boat until we caught one, then anchor up and cast the lures around.  Catches improved if we berleyed up a bit.

I'm shore-based now, and enjoy chasing them in the Port RIver and off of the ocean beaches.  I've been caught up in the soft plastic craze, but still resort to bait in the surf on occasions.  If fishing from the breakwalls around Adelaide, ie the Outer Harbour, North Haven or St. Kilda walls, an outgoing, morning tide is the best.  Soft plastic lures, particularly in the minnow style, around 3 - 4 inches, are all you will probably need if they are on the bite.  Use the lightest jig head the tide and wind will allow, then cast, let it sink a bit, and retrieve using a "lift, lift, settle" technique.  The fish strike as the lure sinks more often than not.  Unweighted whitebait or bluebait cast in and left to drift around will work too. 

Off the beaches, I still use a metal slice in the 15 - 20 gram size range, with the Halco Twisty hard to beat.  If distance isn't an issue, then the plastics are excellent in the surf.  High tide around dusk or dawn is the best off the beach, as their needs to be plenty of water in the hoies or gutters.

Whilst away camping on some of the remote stretches of South Australia's coast, some good quality Salmon Trout can be caught off the rocks.  This is good fun and you will inevitably end up with a mixed catch.  Berley is essential to hold the fish around long enough to catch a few and this attracts heaps of species, especially in lightly fished areas.

Salmon Trout fight just like the bigger version...including jumping clear of the water.

If you're using bait, whitebait is hard to go past.  Bluebait is right up there, along with cockles (Pipis) at times.  I've also caught them on gents, red meat, seaweed worms, tube worms and blood worms.

Autumn seems to be the peak season around metropolitan Adelaide and around the Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas.  Winter is also good in some spots, with the fishing in the Port River sometimes continuing to be good well into Winter.  The Port Noarlunga jetty is renowned for it's catches of Salmon when the big south westerlies blow, sending waves crashing over the reef.  At these times, you have to be lucky to secure a spot to fish on the jetty.  (These fish are either BIG Salmon Trout or are big enough to be called Salmon).

Tackle can be as simple or as expensive as you like.  I recently saw a rod and reel combination, specifically designed for throwing soft plastics, priced at just over $300.  It doesn't have to be that expensive though.  A decent rod around 7 ft, coupled with a nice light threadline reel spooled with 3 kg line (or braid) will do the job.  As long as it's capable of throwing light weights a reasonable distance you'll be OK.  If fishing off the rocks or Port Noarlunga jetty, you might need a rod with a bit more backbone to lift the fish.

Salmon Trout are not generally regarded as good table fish, but, eaten fresh, they are not bad at all.  Just remember to skin the fillets and bleed them when first caught.  Some prefer to leave the skin on the fillets, but this leaves a layer of dark flesh behind the skin when cooked, which is strong tasting.  Smoked or in patties, the fillets are very nice.

Another fish falls to a plastic