Is it a salmon? Is it a kingfish? No… it’s an Aussie salmon. Saffer ex-pat Liam Surridge rates this sight-fishing species a must when Down Under. Western Australian salmon is the Wish List Fish in The Mission Issue 46 (Jul/Aug 2024). Photos: Courtesy Liam Surridge


The name “salmon” is a misnomer, as western Australian salmon Arripis truttacea are not true salmonids (family Salmonidae) but, instead, are members of the family Arripidae, a group of salmon-shaped fish that occur only in Australian and New Zealand waters. I live in Western Australia and target the large Arripis truttacea (sister to the Eastern variant Arripis trutta) which average around 6kg or 70cm. The adult fish migrate up the coast in summer in large spawning aggregations and are perfect sight-fishing targets from the shore or boat. Juveniles of around 30cm, aka “salmon trout”, are caught in estuaries. 


Aussie salmon are endemic to southern Australia and found up the coast of western Australia during their migration, from Esperance past Albany and the Margaret River. If the water is cool enough, they will head all the way up to the metropolitan waters of Perth. Usually, March until June are good months to target them on their spawning migration. Consistently good spots to target them would be Cheynes Beach, Albany and Dunsborough, although it is usually a matter of being in the right place at the right time. They can linger on reefs or swim along in the shore break and can also be found in deeper water predating on baitfish schools. 

“Aussie salmon linger on reefs or swim along in the shore break.”   


A 9- or 10-weight rod is good for targeting Aussie salmon and, if fishing from the shore, a floating line or sink tip are go-tos. From a boat a sinking line is a good option if the fish are slightly deeper. However, fishing topwater is also an option, with a sink tip or full floater. Aussie salmon are not leader-shy so a 20 or 25lb tippet is the way to go. They don’t have sharp teeth but their mouths will wear a tippet thin so a 40lb short mono bite trace can help you avoid losing fish during an extended fight. Any topwater patterns are good. I usually fish a NYAP or a foam popper. For subsurface action, baitfish patterns like Clouser Minnows or Deceivers are good fly choices, in a size similar to the bait in the area.   


These are a great DIY fish so it’s a matter of finding schools on the beach. Even better if you have access to a boat. There are no dedicated guides in Perth, but Anthony Rechichi of Great Southern Fly Fishing targets them around Denmark/Albany if you need a boat and guide –

We dream about fish in The Mission Issue 46. Read it in full below. The Mission is made with blood, sweat and beers – you can buy us one on Patreon.

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