Other names: Black back, blackback salmon, cocky salmon, Australian salmon
Minimum size: 20 cm
Bag limit: 15
Possession limit: 30
Identifying features: Australian salmon have a moderately elongate body, a long-based dorsal fin and a large forked tail fin. Young fish, known as cocky salmon, are silvery-coloured with a number of brown spots on the sides. Adults, known as blackback salmon, are darker across the back with fading of spots. The pectoral fins are yellow.
Grows to: Up to 90 cm and 4 kg.
Habitat: Found in shallow coastal waters around Tasmania over sandy seabed. Young fish are often found in river mouths or off beaches. Adult fish are found in deeper waters where they can form large schools. It is common to observe schools breaking the surface waters as they feed on krill and small baitfish.
Fishing information: Australian salmon are caught using trolled lures, flies, soft plastics and a variety of baits. They are strong fighters on light gear and once hooked, will often break the surface to throw the hook. They travel in schools close to the coastline and are caught off rocky headlands, in large estuaries and bays, offshore, in breakwaters and from surf beaches in holes and gutters. Taken all year round in Tasmania with January to April the most popular season. Most fish caught in Tasmanian waters are young and tend to move away from Tasmania when more mature. Large (60-90cm) adult Australian salmon are becoming more prevalent in Tasmanian waters.
Responsible fishing tips: If you are boating near a school of salmon (often found by sighting seabirds on the surface), skirt the school and cast lures back into it. Don't drive a boat through a feeding school of fish. If fishing from a beach, islands or remote area, minimise disturbance to birds.
Handling: Australian salmon can have quite sharp dorsal spines so be wary.
Cooking: This fish has a distinctive flavour and a high oil content. Its dark flesh has a firm texture and lightens when cooked. Suitable to bake, barbeque, grill, fry or use in soup. Improved eating qualities if killed and bled directly after capture. Popular in fish cakes or charred on barbeques. Often used in recipes with strongly flavoured accompaniments such as Mediterranean flavours including tomatoes, olives, antipasto vegetables and herbs.
Fish illustration by Peter Gouldthorpe