South Coast Salmon Fishing
In March and April each year, Australian salmon run in large schools off the shores of Western Australia. This time sees the fishing families living in their old beach shacks in salmon camps along the amazing south coast. Since the end of World War II this has been something of a tradition and many of the leases are still held by descendants of the original families who set up camp over 70 years ago. Les Pinniger, pictured above wading through the netted fish, has spent every autumn for the last 50 years or so living at his shack at Parry's Beach, just west of the town of Denmark, as his father did before him. Les's son Ross is now also involved.
There's no question that commercial salmon fishing is hard work, but it's also a time when families and friends come together, a community in their shacks behind the dunes, forming strong, long-standing connections. Also returning annually is Mark Shepherd, now fast approaching his 30th season. Mark is joined by his wife and two school age children, and now also by his older daughter (who herself grew up at the salmon camp), her husband and Mark's grandchildren. As Mark explained to me, as other salmon camps were giving it away, the Parry's Beach crew have kept going, "Partly to honour Les's Dad's legacy, as well as the beach life and the experience our kids are having here."
It's not just the traditional salmon crew, old and young, who get into the mood. Local day visitors and tourists from further afield, many staying at the campground at the top of the beach, are only too happy to lend a hand loading fish into the bins. And the wage for their labour? A decent size salmon to cook back at camp that night.
It's a fish only recently coming into favour (or, rather, flavour). In the past, Australian salmon hasn't been regarded as good eating. Slowly but surely, however, the team at Parry's Salmon Camp are turning that reputation around and chefs around WA, including Denmark's own celebrity chef Anna Gare and Pepper & Salt Restaurant's Silas Masih, are creating recipes that suit this local fish. With Australian salmon now seasonally included on the menu of many restaurants, it's gaining appreciation and new fans at a rapid rate. Scroll down to the end for Anna's delicious recipe for Salmon Patties with herby salsa...it's so good!
Anna Gare's Parrys Beach salmon Patties with herby salsa