Prizes up for grabs as annual salmon run comp begins

Recfishwests Matt Gillett is among fishers who love chasing abundant schools of salmon from beaches along the Great Southern and South West during the salmon run. Photo: Recfishwest
Recfishwests Matt Gillett is among fishers who love chasing abundant schools of salmon from beaches along the Great Southern and South West during the salmon run. Photo: Recfishwest

Western Australian salmon - dubbed by some as "the barramundi of the south" - a hard-fighting and acrobatic sportfish that West Aussie fishers spend $331 million on each year to catch.

And, it's easy to understand why, with many fish caught at stunningly picturesque beaches like Cheynes Beach, near Albany, and Bunker Bay at the tip of Cape Naturaliste during the annual autumn salmon run.

Recfishwest, the State's peak recreational fishing organisation representing more than 750,000 recfishers, is getting ready to celebrate the species as a southern fishing icon with the Awesome Autumn of Salmon.

Run in partnership with Western Angler magazine, the celebration includes the free-to-enter, three-month long salmon fishing comp run through the Salmon Slam 2021 app with the top prize of a dinghy, outboard motor and trailer worth $9,000.

There's also the Salmon Spectacular - a family-friendly salmon fishing comp being held in Albany over the Easter weekend, which is sure to be a draw-card for the Great Southern.

Claud Spencer showing why Cape Naturaliste offers some of the best and accessible salmon action, with this beauty from Eagle Bay. Photo: Recfishwest

Claud Spencer showing why Cape Naturaliste offers some of the best and accessible salmon action, with this beauty from Eagle Bay. Photo: Recfishwest

"The abundant schools of Australian salmon migrating along the south-west coast offer one of our State's most spectacular and accessible sportfishing experiences," Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

"So, we're inviting the fishing community to join us on the salmon run this year and help celebrate the 'barra of the south'. While the run hasn't started in earnest yet , the schools are beginning to build on the south coast and autumn is just around the corner."

Last year, Recfishwest commissioned a study - backed by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund - which found West Aussies spend a whopping $331 million each year chasing salmon.

About 80 per cent of the total, which equates to roughly $260 million, spent regionally and flows back into local businesses and communities.

"The economic value is considerable, but the value of the experience of catching one of the world's best sportfish on one of the world's best beaches, is simply priceless," Dr Rowland said.

"This is all made possible by the abundance of the species, so we want to make sure that abundance is protected and the importance of the recreational salmon fishery is recognised."

Last year, Recfishwest was forced to cancel the Salmon Slam just three weeks into the competition due to COVID-19 restrictions - but even in that short time, more than 1,000 anglers had downloaded the Salmon Slam app - available through the Apple App and Google Play stores.

This year, with thousands of anglers set to vie for the tournament's salmon success, Recfishwest expects the 2021 Salmon Slam to be WA's - and potentially Australia's - biggest land-based fishing competition.

"Get out there and give it a go, simply take a picture of your catch and log it through the Salmon Slam app to be in the running for a heap of cool fishing prizes," Dr Rowland said.

To stay up-to-date with the Salmon Slam's weekly winners and prize recipients, visit Recfishwest's website - www.recfishwest.com.au - or follow Recfishwest's Facebook and Instagram pages.

Meanwhile the three-day Salmon Spectacular, coordinated by Albany Fishing Club and Western Angler, will be held on the Easter weekend, from 2 April to 4 April.