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Australian Salmon (Kahawai)
Posted: 18/04/09 12:01:13 (Australia/Sydney)
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▲TopSalmon chanted evening
The Australian salmon is a wonderful fish. Not a âtrueâ salmon at all (and therefore completely unrelated to the various trout and salmon of the Old World), the Australian salmon is nonetheless a wonderful fish. It ranges from Queenslandâs Gold Coast to about Geraldton in WA, but is most common from the NSW central coast around to Fremantle and Rottnest Island. The same species occurs in New Zealand waters, where itâs known by the melodious Maori name of kahawai (pronounced âcar-whyâ). The literal translation is said to mean âstrong in the waterâ, and thatâs fitting, as few fish pull harder on a line, kilo-for-kilo, than a solid kahawai!
Aussie salmon have rather dark, strongly-flavoured flesh. As a result, theyâre not especially highly rated as a food fish. That said, Iâve enjoyed some memorable meals of fresh salmon over the years, none better than one cooked at sunset on the rugged cliff tops above Toolinna Cove, far to the east of Esperance, on the Great Australian Bight. Perhaps it was something to do with the stunning location and great company! Salmon tend to be more acceptable to most palates when smoked, casseroled or used as a base for fish cakes. However you intend preparing them, they should be bled promptly after capture, then filleted and skinned, with the darker blood-line sections trimmed away and discarded.
While not everyoneâs favourite seafood, there are few who would argue that salmon are terrific fun to catch! Averaging a couple of kilos apiece in most regions, they pull like demons and frequently make gill-rattling leaps clear of the water when hooked. There are few finer fishing experiences than to stand barefoot on a surf beach at sunrise or sunset and hook a big, black-backed salmon on reasonably light tackle. I guarantee the experience will get your blood pumping!
Australian salmon respond well to natural baits of whole or cut pilchards or garfish, slabs and strips of mullet or yellowtail, prawns, squid pieces and beach worms. Theyâre also an avid lure and fly taker. Chromed metal slices, spoons, jigs, minnows and soft plastics all produce brilliant salmon action on their day although, on some occasions, these fish can be frustratingly fussy feeders, especially when focussed single-mindedly on hunting very small bait fish fry. Happily, however, on most days theyâll eat almost anything you care to throw at them!
From the far south coast rock ledges of NSW to the empty beaches of South Australiaâs Eyre Peninsula and the Wild Westâs bottom corner, the mighty Australian salmon is an iconic shore- and boat-fishing target, and one of the most common catches made by footloose fishers traversing the coastal bush tracks of our southern seaboard in their 4WDs. Whether you enjoy eating them, or simply unhook and release these great fish so they may continue on their watery migrations, salmon are definitely a fish to be celebrated, appreciated and respected.