Elephants and salmon
  |  First Published: May 2012

Autumn is generally a good time of year for fishing in Gippsland.

Anglers get calm weather and lots of different species mixed in. This year has been a little different in the fact that the temperature has cooled off quicker than usual and hence the average water temperature is a bit below average for this time of year. So for this reason the Australian salmon have moved into the beaches a little early.

There are still plenty of other species being caught. The elephant fish have been quite prolific. I know of one angler whom caught up to 10 elephant sharks in one night and plenty of other anglers whom caught half a dozen each. This can get annoying with a bag limit of one per person as the elephant fish normally make a mess of themselves by wrapping themselves up in the leader.

They can become unwanted bait stealers once you have caught your bag limit, which obviously, is very easy to do in autumn. They are pretty good eating off the surf, I know a lot of people bad mouth them and say the eating quality is poor, but I think this opinion might stem from other regions where perhaps muddy bottoms degrade the meat a tad. But I have eaten a couple from the surf and the taste a lot like gummy and seem to be very clean.

The gummy sharks are still around, however at the time of writing the numbers are getting less except for the anglers paddling out baits. These anglers seem to be getting more gummy sharks than anyone and they are of better size, with many exceeding 15kg.

However, over the next month it is definitely worth targeting the bigger gummy sharks as the larger females generally move in close and we always hear of very big gummy sharks caught in the May period, it’s just that there are a lot less of them. I would be fishing very late at night or very early mornings and using the freshest of baits such as trevally, salmon or tailor fillets.

Australian salmon

I didn’t think we’d be discussing salmon this early in the year, however good numbers have moved onto our beaches. It’s not uncommon to get up to a dozen salmon between 50cm and 60cm. They seem to be getting caught on bait and surf poppers more than anything, but I know for a fact the serious spin fishers haven’t even started targeting them yet, so I would think that if its anything like last year, May will be the month for everyone to get the spinners down the beach and have a go.

So let’s get serious now. If you want to have some fun, get set up properly for the spinning the surf. I use a 9’ graphite spin rod; however you can use as short as 7’ but if it’s really rough, it makes it a little harder to control your lure in the wash. You can use up to a 10’ rod as well, but make sure it’s a high quality graphite rod so that it is super lightweight and you can throw about 500 casts.

You only need a small reel such as a 4000 size, and light braid between 6-10lb breaking strain with 10lb leader. Basically, the big salmon move in close to the beaches between April and June and these fish can be up to or even over 10lbs in the old scale. These salmon measure over 70cm long and perhaps if you’re even lucky, you might get one 80cm.

The fish are currently averaging 55cm, but like I said earlier, I think the 65cm plus salmon will be there any week. Metal lures are the go as they cast well and are extremely easy to use, but you could do the ultimate in sport fishing and use poppers or stick baits. There are some excellent models on the market for this that are heavy and tail weighted so the cast superbly – call in to the shop and I’ll show the best ones.

The salmon have been going really well at Golden Beach, but honestly, you get them all along Ninety Mile beach and there’s no spot that is better than any others, it is just where they happen to be on the day, which no one can predict.

I was fishing at a beach for an hour for Australian salmon and hadn’t caught one yet, I would pack up and move to a new beach. Look for good gutters in close with a bit of white water for cover.

If spin fishing isn’t your thing, bluebait is about the best bait for Australian salmon, but surf poppers are extremely good as well, as I would always put a surf popper on your paternoster rig, and often you will catch most of the salmon on the surf popper.

For more information, contact Will at Allways Angling in Traralgon on 51748544. You will get expert advice and some great deals on fishing tackle.

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