Reading Time: 10 minutes
Picture a city that’s not just a bustling metropolis but a blooming good fishing hub that’ll have you reaching for your tackle box in a matter of seconds. That’s how fishing in Melbourne makes anglers feel, no matter their skill level or expertise.
Some might argue that Melbourne’s chic cafe scene of fixie bikes zipping by are what earned it the title of ‘the world’s most liveable city’. However, the abundant offerings of Port Phillip Bay have also contributed to setting the city apart.
The Bay is a striking backdrop for a top-notch fishing adventure, but fishing here is not limited to just that. The sheer variety of angling spots and species in Melbourne might surprise you. Some say it’s almost like finding yourself in a candy shop full of your favourite treats!
In this guide, we’ll dive into the most exciting fish species to catch. In addition to that, you’ll learn about the most productive spots, fishing types, and techniques, along with seasonality and regulations. Well, let’s get started!
Top Melbourne Fish Species
The aquatic world beneath Melbourne’s cityscape is known for its abundance. There are elusive Pink Snapper, energetic Australian Salmon, humble Bream, and vibrant Garfish. The city’s shoreline, piers, and estuaries are home to King George Whiting and Leatherjacket, too. And if that wasn’t enough, Flathead also join the cast. Let’s take a closer look at our top picks, in no particular order:
Bounty means Snapper, or vice versa. And Snapper means Pink Snapper. These notorious bait-nibblers are also known as ‘Big Reds’ when they’re big and ‘Pinkies’ when they’re smaller.
Pink Snapper are the ultimate stars of Melbourne’s fishing scene. They’ll steal your bait and keep you on your toes. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, Pink Snapper don’t discriminate. In any case, outwitting these clever guys isn’t an easy task. A common catch falls in the range of 40–50 centimetres (16–20 inches), but larger specimens can be found in deeper waters.
Land-based anglers can head to the Mornington or St Kilda Piers for a Pinkie during the spring spawning season, or to the Yarra River and Maribyrnong River during the warmer months. Big Reds, of course, tend to patrol deeper waters, with 10 kilograms (22 pounds) or more aren’t unheard of.
As soon as you see leaves falling from the trees, know that it’s time for Australian Salmon to make their dramatic entrance. These hard fighters bite best a few hours either side of high tide, especially in the morning or late afternoon hours. Salmon travel in large schools, marking any encounter one for your fishing diary.
As Australian Salmon travel in and around Port Phillip Bay and Western Port, anglers pack metal lures, soft plastics, paternoster rigs, or their favourite bait. Then, they head out to St Kilda Pier, Altona Pier, Williamstown, Gunnamatta Beach, or Venus Bay for a healthy dose of Salmon. Expect the catch to be between 35 and 55 centimetres (13–22 inches), although they can grow up to 75 cm (2.7 feet).
However humble Bream might be, they’re a mainstay of Melbourne’s angling landscape. The peak season begins in June, in the cool of winter, extending into the warm months of spring. The beauty of Bream fishing is that they’re equally adaptable, so you can find them in a wide range of environments.
The Patterson, Maribyrnong, and Yarra Rivers, along with the Werribee River and Williamstown are some of the best spots for bait fishing. While Bream aren’t particularly large, veteran fishers often tell tales of Bull Bream that exceed the average of 25–40 centimetres (10–16 inches). Who knows what you’ll find at the end of your fishing line?!
When it comes to sportfishing in Melbourne, it’s safe to say that Garfish are sprinters. That’s right, these fish are surprisingly fast swimmers and are among the favourites of light tackle enthusiasts. Plus, they’re great for kids or beginners trying their hand at fishing a run-in tide throughout the day.
Typically ranging between 20 and 35 centimetres (8–14 inches) in length, they make up for their small size in taste. Garfish are known for their sweet, delicate flavour. A freshly-caught Garfish on a barbecue is a true Melbourne tradition, especially if it’s caught in Port Phillip Bay and around Port Melbourne, Elwood, or Sandringham.
No matter the tide, time of the day, or season, there’s always a Leatherjacket biting somewhere. That’s especially true if you entice it with small pieces of pipi or squid, winding the bait up a short distance off the bottom.
Leatherjacket are a common sight around Melbourne’s piers. They’re well-adapted to the city’s temperate waters, although they fight hard, as though they were expecting you. These fish have a special fondness for covers, often lurking around the pylons. The average catch ranges from 20–30 centimetres (8–12 inches), although you can reel in a true prize if you manage to find a bigger one.
King George Whiting
The list of Melbourne’s top fishing catches couldn’t be complete without the regal King George Whiting. These are delicious fish and a prized catch for any angler. Locals know that the sandy bottoms and seagrass meadows of Port Phillip Bay and Western Port are productive King George Whiting fishing spots. This is especially true if you fish the Sorrento and Portsea areas, the Bellarine Peninsula, and around Phillip Island.
The typical King George catch in Melbourne’s waters is usually between 30–40 centimetres (12–16 inches), although they can grow to be twice as big. While they aren’t the biggest fish around, Melbourne fishers see them as a mark of an angler’s skill due to their subtle bite.
Flathead aren’t the most glamorous of catches in Melbourne. But what they lack in looks, they make up for in game quality. They’re ambush predators, so hooking a Flathead means an underwater tug-of-war. Port Phillip Bay is a common hunting ground, but the inlets of Western Port and estuaries like the Werribee River and Maribyrnong River also hold good populations of these bottom-dwelling predators.
October through March is the best type to look for ‘Lizards’ that reach up to 90 centimetres (35 inches). The average size of a typical Flathead catch is typically half that, although the reward is always worth it. Note that the larger fish are often females, so locals usually release them back into the water to breed.
Where can I go fishing in Melbourne?
When fishing in Melbourne, there’s no end to what you can discover. Of course, Port Phillip Bay is the city’s pride and joy, stretching over 2,000 square kilometres (over 772 miles). This is a beloved spot with a dish-shaped bottom, which creates a perfect sanctuary for elusive Snapper.
The bay’s key spots include Carrum, Mornington, Mt Martha, Williamstown, and Altona. Right in the city centre, you’ve got St Kilda with bountiful Snapper, King George Whiting, Gummy Shark, Squid, Flathead, Salmon, and Garfish. And if you hop across the peninsula, you’ll find the deep tidal channels and shallow mud flats of Westernport Bay. This spot is excellent for those who want to change the pace a little bit.
River anglers can get their fill of Whiting and Flathead at Werribee River or try their hand at Snapper fishing at the stretch between Altona and Williamson. You can also cast a line for Bream in the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers, target Salmon, Mullet, and Silver Trevally in Queenscliff Harbour and Lonsdale Bight, or explore the Patterson Lakes.
Here’s a quick list of extra spots for fishing near Melbourne for you to consider:
- Patterson River. As part of the Patterson Lakes, this river is located an hour’s drive from Melbourne CBD. Here, you can hop on a boat or a kayak and go upstream to lure in Snapper, Salmon, Mullet, Mulloway, Flounder, and many other species.
- Brimbank Park. This popular Trout fishing spot is located on the outer reaches of the Maribyrnong River, around half an hour’s drive from the CBD. Anglers also come here to cast live bait for Redfin and Carp, along with Bream, Garfish, and Eel.
- Barwon Heads. For some nice beach, strait, and charter fishing, head out to the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula. This scenic township allows you to target Snapper, Flathead, Barracouta, Squid, and even Sharks. Note that there are certain restrictions if you’re fishing from Barwon Heads Bluff.
- Bostock Reservoir. Local shore anglers often say that fishing in Bostock Reservoir might be the next best thing, although it’s definitely a hidden gem. This underrated destination is home to Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Carp, Roach, Eel, Tench, and more.
Types of Fishing in Melbourne
So you know where to cast your line in this cosmopolitan city and what to target. But before you grab your gear and head for the water, let’s take a moment to discuss the different types of fishing in Melbourne. From serene piers and bustling bays to the vast expanse of the open ocean, let’s take a look…
Melbourne Beach Fishing
As we mentioned earlier, the scenic Barwon Heads stakes a claim for some of Melbourne’s – and Victoria’s – finest beach fishing. However, there are other spots throughout the area with good potential. Anglesea beach fishing is a perfect mix of relaxation and action, especially for Leatherjacket, Trevally, Garfish, Flathead, and more. Plus, you can explore the waters at night to add even more excitement to your trip.
Melbourne’s beach fishing scene has something for everyone, even if you’re just up for a casual cast. However, before you go on and make a splash, remember to consult with the local rules and regulations!
Melbourne Pier Fishing
Melbourne’s bay area is also a haven for pier anglers. You can cast a line for Snapper from Port Melbourne, Middle Park, St Kilda, Brighton, or Sandringham. However, don’t neglect the thrill of catching smaller fish like Whiting and Flathead on a light tackle.
Other great spots include Flinders Pier, with its beds of weedy grass beneath the surface, and Sorrento Pier, known for vibrant local life. You can take a break from pier fishing and enjoy some snorkelling, boating, kayaking, and even golfing. Further afield is Rye Pier, around an hour’s drive from the CBD. The Rye is the place to be if you’re after Squid. When the sun dips below the horizon, local fishers gather to haul in a bounty of these creatures.
Wrapping up the tour of pier fishing in Melbourne, you can also check out Mordialloc Pier, also known as ‘Mordi Pier’ for some Snapper action, along with Portsea and Altona Piers. The pier at Portsea is known for the annual Portsea Polo, while Altona has a gorgeous artificial reef not far from the pier.
Melbourne Charter Fishing
Fishing charters in Melbourne are all about a journey beyond the usual. Hiring a local skipper allows you to explore the local fishing possibilities that are as vast as the ocean itself. Your age, experience, and skill levels don’t matter at all – all you need to do is find a trip that suits your needs. And that’s no issue. Melbourne fishing charters almost always offer a personalised experience.
Plus, expert guides usually take care of all the necessary gear, tackle, and, of course, a wealth of local knowledge. After all, who knows the area better than a local fisher?
Melbourne Fishing Seasons
From the warm, active summer months to the cooler, more serene winter season, Melbourne’s fishing calendar is year-round. Summer stretches from December to February, offering long days, warm water, and active fish. Snapper aggregate to spawn in the bay areas, while all waterways become alive with King George Whiting and Flathead.
In autumn, the fishing scene transforms. The months from March to May are dedicated to the Salmon migration around the coastal fringes of the bay, which coincides with the start of the Bream season.
June to November can sometimes be overlooked, although these months also hold their own charm. You can fish for Bream, Garfish, and Leatherjacket as you wait for the spring season to begin.
Melbourne Fishing Rules & Regulations
All anglers aged 18–70 fishing in Melbourne need to have a valid Victoria recreational fishing licence, which are available online or at a registered fishing licence outlet. The Victoria Fisheries Authority has specific size and bag limits for each species of fish, along with certain closed and open seasons. Also, certain species can’t be filleted until you’ve brought them ashore.
Booking a Melbourne fishing charter makes the whole process much easier. Your skipper will advise you on the current restrictions and regulations, and make sure your dinner is within the size and bag limits.
Fishing in Melbourne FAQs
Melbourne Fishing: Bays, Piers, Catch of the Day
There you have it. That’s a round-up of fishing in Melbourne. Anglers from all over the world come here to explore the jewels of the city’s piers, wade through the bay, and cast their line from one of the beaches. In Melbourne, there’s always a new fishing tale waiting to unfold. So grab your gear, choose your adventure, and start making memories!
Have you ever been fishing in Melbourne? What’s your favourite species to target? Any fish stories you’d like to share with us? Let’s chat in the comments below!
Title: Melbourne Fishing: The Complete Guide
Sourced From: fishingbooker.com/blog/melbourne-fishing/
Published Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2023 15:09:13 +0000