Fishing Port Phillip Bay

Port Philip Bay is Victoria’s largest body of water and the state’s most popular recreational fishing  playground has a well-deserved reputation for turning on some brilliant fishing for species such as snapper, flathead, King George whiting, garfish and squid with fine bream in the neighbouring rivers and estuaries.

Flathead would be by far the most common catch from Port Phillip Bay and during the summer months countless thousands of ‘lizards’ fall to some pretty unsophisticated baits and rigs. These provide hours of entertainment for holidaymakers and serious anglers alike.

Drifting is the accepted method for nailing a feed of Flathead. with baits such as half pilchards, whitebait and squid producing plenty of fish. Sadly. however, most of these flathead would be lucky to exceed 30 cm in length and it would appear that for some inexplicable reason, big ?athead in Port Phillip Bay are largely a thing of the past. The occasional fish better than 1.5 kg still falls to the snapper angler using whole pilchards as bait, but there are many hours between such fish.

Likewise, the huge schools of barracouta that once provided plenty of action for anglers trolling small chromed lures are also little but a fond memory for many, although there has been a small resurgence in their numbers over the past year or so.

It is the mighty snapper, however, that attracts the greatest band of devotees and from September onwards thousands of boats of all sizes gather over the inshore marks in the hope of connecting.

Port Phillip Bay Fishing Charters

Bay Fish N Trips

Bay Fish N Trips – 15 Positive Reviews – 5 star rating by guests.

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St Kilda Charters
St Kilda Charters – 17 Positive Reviews – 4 star rating by guests – Click here for contact details.

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Relax Go Fishing
Relax Go Fishing – 10 Positive Reviews – 4.5 star rating by guests – Click here for contact details.

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Fish to Catch

Fishing for Snapper in Port Phillip Bay

While Port Phillip snapper doesn’t attain the huge size of their South Australian counterparts, there are enough ‘average’ fish of between four and seven kilos to keep everyone happy, and there is always the chance of connecting with a trophy fish of nine kilos or more.

The run of big fish continues right up until the peak of summer, when the bigger fish tend to taper off, only to be replaced by smaller, pan-sized fish or ‘pinkies’ as they are popularly known. Once a school is located, pinkies bite voraciously and provide heaps of fun on light gear along the inshore reefs. Whereas catches of the big snapper usually only consist of one or two fish, it’s not unusual to pull 20 or more pinkies in quick succession, particularly if a bit of berley is used to sharpen their appetites.

The big fish tend to come back on the bite with renewed enthusiasm around midFebruary, and anglers fish for them before work, after work, instead of work and on weekends. This action usually continues right up until April, when catches begin to drop away just prior to the onset of winter.

A few fish are caught during the winter by anglers hardy enough to brave the frigid conditions, but there are a lot of hours between bites. Corio Bay, near Geelong, is a notable exception to this rule, producing some extremely rewarding fishing for the super keen.

Popular Bay snapper baits include WA pilchards (probably the best, and certainly the most readily obtainable and convenient), ?athead fillets, live or dead garfish, squid and if you can get them fillets of fresh ‘barracouta’. For the small fish, half pilchards and ?esh baits produce the best results.

Anglers fishing the upper portion of the Bay tend to use ?oating baits with no lead, or a small sinker the size of a pea, while the tidal run in the lower portion often necessitates the use of 60 grams or more of lead.

Berleying doesn’t do any harm and rarely attracts sharks. despite what some scribes might say. If there is any current, a berley bag on the bottom or attached to the anchor rope may be necessary to place the slick in an area where it will do the best.

When and Where

Best Fishing: October – May
Recommended Rigs: Bait fishing using either a running sinker or paternoster rig. Soft plastics worked slowly down near the bottom.
Best Baits: Pilchards, silver whiting, whitebait, squid
Time and tides: Morning or late afternoon. A few hours either side of high tide.
Shore based Hot Spots: St Kilda Pier or Brighton Pier

Port Phillip Bay Snapper

Fishing for King George Whiting in Port Phillip Bay

While Snapper is largely looked upon as the Port Phillip Bays primary target species, many people prefer to fish for the delicious King George whiting around the areas of broken reef, weed and sand close to shore.

Rarely exceeding 800 grammes, with a one kilo fish likely to make newspaper headlines, King George whiting started to turn up around early December hitting their peak mid-summer and tapering off as autumn arrives.

Their fondness for patchy inshore reef and sand means that they are easily accessible and often bite right through into the middle of the day although sunup, sundown and tidal changes are peak times.

The humble mussel, which grows on rocks, piers and jetties right around the Bay is the choice whiting bait, although they are becoming increasingly difficult to find. The ravages of pollution and certain groups stripping every mussel. regardless of size may soon make this bait almost a luxury item. However, clams, pipis and softened squid and cuttle?sh can usually be relied upon to produce a feed of King George whiting.

Tackle for whiting should be light, with many anglers using their snapper outfits to devastating effect and, as with all fishing, as little lead as possible should be used.

The usual technique involves anchoring the boat to one side of a sand patch and casting baits onto it. A few handfuls of crushed mussel shells can work wonders in helping to aggregate the fish and will often lure big leather jackets and red mullet from their rocky haunts too.

When and Where

Peak season: November – April
Technique: Baitfishing using a paternoster or running sinker rig.
Baits: Pipis, mussels, bass yabbies and squid
Time and tides: Morning or late afternoon. A few hours either side of high tide.
Hot spot: Sorrento Pier