Lure Fishing For Surf Salmon


Australian Salmon are one of many favourite targets for surf fishos around the country. While these fish can be caught with a variety of different methods, it’s the lure fishing for them that gets me excited. In South Australia we a lucky to have access to some fantastic beaches to target them from, some which allow you to take a 4WD on to the sand and target the fish from the comfort of your car!

  It’s a great way to get the heart pumping, spotting a school from the car and then quickly grabbing the rods and racing down the beach to make a cast. In this article I’ll explain the techniques we use to get amongst the action while chasing salmon from the surf with lures.

A salmon school in the waves.


The Storm Tetujin blades works great on surf salmon.



While salmon can be found in most places around the country, I like to spend my time on the beaches of the Lower Eyre Peninsula of South Australia. These are really easy access and usually very good producers of some quality lure fishing. The Lower Eyre Peninsula has a couple National Parks, one being the Lincoln National Park and the other the Coffin Bay National Park. Both these parks have some awesome beaches in which you can get lots of shots at big schools of salmon.

What to Look For

While blind casting in to the wash zone can produce the odd fish or two, you really want to seek out the schools of fish to get the best and most consistent action. Salmon schools appear as a moving black cloud in the water and these are usually very easy to see once you’ve spotted a few. You’re not really looking for individual fish shapes, just that big black mass of moving fish. To get a shot with the lighter gear (which makes the whole exercise a lot more enjoyable) they need to be within the first two sets of breakers, so that the cast can make the distance. Move along the beach while searching the waves until you are positive it’s something worth making a cast for. Be sure that when you see it there really is no mistaking them!

Check out that black mass of fish!


What to Use

As I mentioned using lighter gear will get the best sport out of the fish. I generally use a 2.1m – 2.4m spin stick rated at 5-8kg with a matching 4000 size spin reel. 10kg braid will more than stop most salmon and you could down to 4.5kg braid if you’re looking for that extra challenge. I always attach a leader when using braids and 10kg fluorocarbon is hard wearing and won’t let you down. You’ll only need a rod length of leader for chasing salmon. I personally don’t have a specific salmon set-up I just use the same outfit I chuck plastics for snapper with.

Hooked up!



When the salmon school up in such big numbers being fussy is the last thing on their minds! So choose lure with distance in mind. Metal splices are a great option for this style of fishing simply because you can cast them a mile and the salmon love to eat them. 50gram models are usually all I use for the salmon. Although I don’t think colour really matters, blues and silvers work a treat. Another great lure is Rapala’s Rippin Rap 07 which can be cast a long way and has a loud rattle in it for that added attention grabbing. Metal blades such as the Storm Tetujin are great fish catchers as well. One thing I would highly recommend is to change all the treble hooks to singles. The is a lot going on while landing a feisty salmon thrashing around in the surf and the last thing you want is a hook in the hand.

Safely on the sand



Usually the hardest part to getting the bite is finding the fish in the first place and hook ups are usually instant when the lure hits the water. Sometimes though you may need to vary it up a bit. Try winding flat out to get their attention and then pausing the lure. Other times slowing right down works as well. Most of the time I like to get my lure in amongst the school and jig it a few times without winding. Generally the second or third jig will come up tight! Usually it’s easy, but as with all forms of fishing, it can be a case of trial and error on the day until you find a pattern that is working.

The Fight

The great part about surf salmon is they put up a fantastic fight, especially if you are using the lighter gear. The odd good run or two followed by a bit of down and dirty while hugging the current of the waves is usually how it plays out. They also regularly jump which is a real bonus. I reckon any fish that jumps is just that little bit more worth catching! While attempting to land the fish, work with the waves. That way the fight won’t go on forever.

The smile says it all!


Respect the Ocean

One golden rule while partaking in this style of fishing is to always respect the ocean. The beaches on the Lower Eyre Peninsula in-particular are part of the southern Ocean which can get pretty gnarly at times. No fish is more important than the safety of the friends you are fishing with. Make sure to keep an eye on each other!

Fish for the Future

When the salmon get in such big schools they become quite easy to catch so remember to only take what you need. They taste pretty good in the smoker but don’t freeze well in my opinion. Salmon release very well if handled correctly and they do make for a great catch and release species. Next time you head for the surf, spend some time looking around for a salmon school or two. They are great fun to catch!  
Heading back across the dunes after a hectic evening session.

Heading back across the dunes after a hectic evening session.

Lubin Pfeiffer

About Lubin Pfeiffer

Accomplished angler Lubin Pfeiffer lives in South Australia’s glorious Barossa Valley and is fortunate to have started fishing from a very young age. He enjoys all facets of the sport, targeting the vast majority of inshore species that inhabit waters of the southern states. Lubin holds the honour of representing Australia three times at an international level in competition fly fishing.


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