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Stay off the rocks: fishing safety reminder from Albany Sea Rescue for 2022 salmon season

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Albany Sea Rescue president Colin Bairstow at Albany's Salmon Holes.
Camera IconAlbany Sea Rescue president Colin Bairstow at Albany's Salmon Holes. Credit: Laurie Benson

With the Great Southern’s salmon season in full swing, the president of Albany Sea Rescue is urging all anglers to keep off the rocks and “never turn your back on the ocean”.

The salmon season in the Great Southern usually peaks in March and April, with many keen salmon fishers expected to descend on Albany’s beaches over the school holidays.

Albany Sea Rescue president Colin Bairstow’s advice for those considering salmon fishing on the rocks surrounding many of Albany’s popular fishing beaches was simple: don’t do it.

“It’s just the biggest mistake going on the rocks, especially at Salmon Holes,” he said.

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“It’s so slopey and just black slippery rock, it looks nasty just looking at it.”

He said people should instead stick to fishing on the bounty of beaches along Albany’s coastline.

Mr Bairstow said many people mistakenly believed that they would only be in trouble on the rocks if they got hit by an extremely rare freak wave.

Albany's Salmon Holes.
Camera IconAlbany's Salmon Holes. Credit: Laurie Benson

“The backwash from one wave comes up, it comes back down and hits the incoming wave and they double up, so you get a double-up effect of the waves,” he said.

“It can be totally random, at any time it can happen.

“People can go in the water on calm days, it doesn’t have to necessarily be rough.”

Since 1983, 13 rock fishers have died at Salmon Holes alone.

Between 2015 and 2016, three men died at the notorious beach after coming off the rocks.

In 2019, a three-year trial was introduced to make lifejackets mandatory at Salmon Holes — and last December it was made permanent.

Mr Bairstow said people “seem to be adhering” to the new law, and Albany Sea Rescue has not made any rock-fishing rescue this salmon season.

However, the usually expected to rescue “at least one or two people a year”.

He said all skippers should log their trips with Albany Sea Rescue, and reiterated the importance of always letting someone know where you are going when going fishing, and the time you expect to return, “whether it’s in a boat, or on the rocks, or beach”.

“You just can never turn you back on the ocean,” Mr Bairstow said.

“The minute you turn your back on the ocean, it’ll bite you.”

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