March 2017

South West Sojourn

The 2017 west coast salmon run is shaping up to be an absolute cracker once again with smaller, fast moving schools of between 10 and 100 fish starting to make their way gradually north to spawn already. The salmon over here are notoriously fussy at the beginning of their run and the locals down in the SW were very surprised to see me catching fish on plastics when they were apparently not taking any lures. They were giving me heaps about my squidgy lure choices to begin with remarking that only certain lures were working, smiling jacks hard bodies, Richter plugs, 40 – 55g gold Halco twisties and white McArthy plastics.

The 1st school of around 100 fish slowly made its way up the coast hugging the shore line to avoid predation giving me and the 20 or so waiting anglers a nice shot as they passed. An array of metal, plastic and baits were cast at these wary looking fish with only 3 anglers eventually hooking up, two on live baits and mine on the squidgy 140mm slimey that I’d earlier coated in S factor.

The style of fishing down that way is to all hang out in the likely locations like a pack of hoodlums waiting and scanning the shore line and horizon for approaching schools whilst constantly sledging shit on everyone for everything. The boys were all eventually impressed by the squidgy wrigglers and my confidence in using them, there were no more smart remarks about the plastics they had never considered before but I am sure certainly will now.

Very interesting how even the faster moving, smaller schools were still falling victim to well presented casts and S factor. Once the salmon were cast to the scent and slick left in the water was enticing the super spooky salmon into feeding and were even circling around in the slick for a minute or so whilst I was fighting my fish before moving on again. The squidgies also gave me the flexibility to chase the schools as they moved and saved me the hassle of gathering and storing live baits.

My outfit of choice was Shimano’s Revolution Coastal rod, 9’ two piece rated at 6 – 10kg matched with a Shimano Stella SW 5000 spooled with Shimano 20lb power pro braided line. This outfit was not only ideal for pitching well presented casts to very spooky fish but also extremely handy when it came to controlling the big salmon around difficult landing zones.

Squidgy soft plastics were coated in S factor catch scent and fished on ½ ounce jig heads with 6/0 hooks attached to 40lb fluoro carbon leaders of around one meter in length. A loop knot was used to connect the squidgies to the leader allowing them greater movement and delivering a more natural swimming action and overall presentation. Shimano 20lb Power pro braid was joined to leader via Bimmini twist double and improved Albrite knots.

Shimano’s power pro braid is smooth and supple allowing for long casts and sensitive feel with the added bonus of not slicing through fingers during long casting sessions! The Revolution Coastal rod is sensitive enough for fishing lightly weighted plastics yet also beefy enough to pitch metal slices and weighty surface lures out of sight. Its solid carbon graphite design produces amazing strength throughout the entire blank allowing anglers to control hefty fish during difficult landing situations with ease.

The performance of Shimano’s Stella SW5000 was again flawless with its silky smooth drag system and various high tech features proving it to still be the number one anglers’ choice in reel for many applications and for very good reason! Flagship model reels such as Shimano’s Stella SW really come into their own when it comes to superior quality, performance and reliability.

For instance, try casting lightly weighted soft plastics around in windy conditions before changing to heavier metals or stick baits and watch the wind knots created by cheaper or inferior reel and spool designs. This annoying problem and many frustrating others can be eliminated by simply fishing with superior quality tackle making reels such as the Shimano Stella well worth every cent.

The 2016 west coast salmon run was certainly one that will be remembered  for many years to come with fish making their way up and into Perth’s Swan River and even as far north as Learmonth jetty in Exmouth. The larger schools of Australian salmon will begin to show during the next couple of weeks with the quality of the run being totally dependent on the Leeuwin current. Hopefully we will have a slight Leeuwin current pushing well out to sea allowing the salmon to lazily make their way to where ever they please.

Calm seas, clear skies

Nick Hocking

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