Salmon seek warm water for spawning

The migration of the Western Australian Salmon (Arripis truttaceus) draw crowds in their thousands to Australia’s south-west corner every year. Although not as delicious as the mouth-watering pink fleshed Atlantic salmon (Salmo solar), and not at all related, the Aussie salmon sure is good fun to fish! More closely related to herring or tommy ruff, anglers enjoy fishing for these fighters right from the beach where fish will often take to the air and run hard out to see once hooked. The fish are also sought out by commercial fisherman, with some licensee’s historically catching over 2,500 tonne of fish per year.

 

Salmon fisherman

A Salmon fisherman from the south coast (Photo: ABC Rural – Tyne logan)

The fish begin to arrive in mid-March and tend to stay around all through April after migrating along Australia’s south coast from as far as Victoria and even Tasmania. Adult fish form large schools along exposed beaches and rocky reefs. Western Australian Salmon can grow up to one meter in length and can reach a whopping 9kgs. Mostly, they feed on bait fish and they are eaten by sharks, seals, dolphins and of corse, people.

A school of Western Australian Salmon under water

An underwater shot of the Western Australian Salmon (Photo: WA Museum – Barry Hutchins)

They make their journey west to take advantage of the Leeuwin Current, which runs from north to south along the Australia’s west coast, around Cape Leeuwin and then eastward along the south coast. Teamed with the offshore winds, these conditions are perfect for the fish to spawn.

A school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

An uninterrupted school of Salmon in the clear waters of Contos Beach.

Eggs and newly hatched fish are carried in the Leeuwin Current and settle along the south coast between South Australia and Tasmania where they mature for three to four years before moving westward to live in schools around Hopetoun and Esperance. This is where most of the schools we see along the Cape to Cape Track head home to after their visit to the Ngari Cape Marine Park to spawn.

School of Australian salmon at Contos

An enormous ball of salmon spotted from Contos Cliffs