Eastern Port Phillip
Frankston to Carrum
Frankston to Black Rock has the well-deserved reputation as snapper central, at least on the eastern side of the bay. A huge number of fish are caught from this area each year as they migrate north and spread out. From the heavy cunji beds in shallow water off Seaford, the outer artificial tyre reef off Carrum, to the natural hard reef off Black Rock, this stretch has an enormous amount of snapper holding habitat. The best boat ramp in all of Port Phillip is at Carrum on the Patterson River, known as Launching Way. It boasts 12 lanes of launching access, good parking and wheelchair accessible pontoons. It’s a premier facility, supported by smaller ramps at Kananook Creek at Frankston, Mordialloc Creek and Black Rock.
As snapper migrate up Port Phillip on the eastern side they spread out from Mornington and fan through middle parts of the bay. Out from Carrum, depending on which direction you head, north or south might determine the depth line to focus on. You will hear people talk of depth lines that snapper are on out from Carrum, Frankston or Black Rock and this can be a guide as to the depth the fish may be moving through. Regardless of the fishing reports, there will always be other schools in other locations, and much closer in, so don’t ignore your instinct to check other spots, especially if you have done well there previously. Big fish can show up well away from where the bulk of the fishing effort is occurring.
The 14–16-metre line is a reliable depth, especially early morning. As the day wears on, heading out a little deeper can pay off. The outer artificial reef is on the 18 metre line and is a productive and reliable depth, even well away from the reef. There is good flathead fishing on most of the snapper grounds, but you will need to work through the smaller ones to find good specimens.
Productive mixed fishing can be had inshore on artificial reef systems that the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) installed in 2009, creating a network of concrete balls in 11 metres of water off Aspendale, Seaford and Frankston. They're well worth a look on your way to deeper water. The Aspendale reef, once known as 'Rec Reef', was renamed 'Rhys Reef' in honour of young recreational fisher Rhys Gillard after his unexpected death in 2021. More information on these reefs and their specific location can be found here.
Inshore at Olivers Hill there is broken ground and weed beds which provide habitat for calamari and whiting. Schools of salmon at times too. Similarly, out from Parkdale to Black Rock there is excellent inshore reef with smaller patches of weed that provide outstanding fishing for calamari, pinky snapper and King George whiting. Schools of salmon turn up regularly, especially at the mussel farm off Beaumaris. Be aware of Marine Protected Areas.
This part of eastern Port Phillip is adorned with amazing shore-based fishing for a wide range of species and good facilities to access them.
Frankston Pier has always had a good reputation for snapper and seasonal garfish. There is an artificial reef 40 metres in front of the pier that can be reached with a long cast. The reef attracts flathead, snapper, leatherjackets and salmon, plus silver trevally amongst the pylons and calamari.
Seaford pier is relatively short and surrounded by sand and some reasonable habitat. Occasionally, a good snapper is caught casting long towards deep water, but the best bet is to set a berley trail over the isolated weed beds and rubble for garfish and the occasional whiting or even flounder. Calamari can also be encountered occasionally however casting for salmon is more reliable and a big blow can fire up these speedsters around the pier.
The mouth of Patterson River is worth a look too. The southern rock wall between the Nepean Highway Road bridge and the mouth provides a great platform for fishers. A huge range of fish can be caught in the right conditions including bream, mullet, pinky snapper, salmon, estuary perch and even mulloway.
Mordialloc Pier is one of the most popular shore-based platforms in Port Phillip! Easily accessed and with an ample car park, the 200-metre long pier sees fishers wetting a line in all conditions. When the weather is bad with strong onshore winds prevail, a dedicated band of snapper fanatics will make it a point to head to this pier. There is good reason for this and it’s all about big snapper! Aside from the bad weather trophy snapper, the pier regularly produces salmon, whiting, flathead and trevally. There is quite heavy reef on the right-hand side where calamari are often caught. The Mordialloc Creek flows out next to the pier is a great place to target mullet and bream.
Black Rock is an extremely popular area for snapper fishing. As the fish push north in the bay during spring, the hard reef edge out to 6 metres or so, and the deeper water around 16 metres, is very productive. The area offers outstanding inshore whiting and calamari fishing, and the flathead and garfish are reliable too. There is a boat ramp at Half Moon Bay suitable for small craft on the right tides however most boat fishers get to the area from Carrum or St Kilda boat ramps. Shore-based opportunities are limited to the carpark wall of the Black Rock boat ramp as the inshore region towards Ricketts Point is mostly a Marine Protected Area. The jetty at the boat ramp is small but sufficient to cast from its end to target snapper. Alternatively, use lighter tackle for whiting, calamari and garfish. Kayak fishing is popular, and the boat ramp car park is a great base.
Most fishers chasing snapper out from Black Rock concentrate on the hard reef or travel further out. The 14–16-metre line inside the main shipping channel, or deeper towards the shipping channel itself and the start of the transit lane, is a hot spot where big snapper are caught every year. Remember that the transit lane is for ships navigating the bay and recreational boaters cannot anchor in it. Provided you are careful and legally anchored there can be amazing fishing here as snapper regularly move up and down, sometimes in enormous schools.
Inshore on the hard reef line, a year-round fishery exists for pinky snapper and salmon schools. They can be caught by anchoring and fishing bait. Drifting over reef with lighter rods and casting lures, especially soft plastic, is fun and effective too. In spring and summer, bigger snapper push onto the reef along with pinkys, so don’t go too light! This reef zone and further inshore where there are weed patches and sand holes can provide great whiting, calamari and flathead fishing.
Click for information on Half Moon Bay boat ramp.
Sandringham to Station Pier
St Kilda can be an amazing snapper location especially in early spring. There are many factors that determine the number of snapper that enter the bay and where they end up. All fish have cycles dictated in part by weather and snapper are no different. If there are heavy early spring rains, the flush of water from the Yarra River can draw huge numbers of snapper to the area, even up into Port Melbourne and the Yarra mouth itself. The area offers several outstanding shore-based spots, and the best boat ramp is at St Kilda Marina, however parking is limited. There is also a boat ramp at North Road, Brighton.
This northern part of Port Phillip is very popular being on the doorstep of Melbourne and offering terrific fishing year-round! There is something special about catching great fish in a clean bay with city skyscrapers in view. As you navigate around this area and set anchor, it’s important to be aware of where you are and anchoring rules. It is a busy part of the bay with large container ships moving in and out of the busy port. Snapper fishing out from St Kilda usually sees fishers zoning in on a few specific grounds, depending upon the season. The shallower heavy ground out from Sandringham through to Elwood produces pinky snapper and trophy reds, a nickname for big snapper. The muddy bottoms out from Port Melbourne produce well after rain, and the popular Fawkner Beacon and P2 mark are perennial favourites for fishers launching from St Kilda and Altona. The most reliable area is out near the shipping channel transit lane. Provided you are legally anchored outside the channel there can be amazing fishing. Don’t forget the shellfish reef created in 2018. It’s not all about snapper though. The Anonyma Shoal out from Sandringham is a reliable spot to find big salmon and sometimes small kingfish in summer. The heavy reef and patchy weed that exists nearly all the way from Sandringham to St Kilda provides quality fishing for calamari, King George whiting and flathead. The North Road area is famous with locals for a mixed bag of great eating table fish.
The St Kilda area is rich with shore-based fishing opportunities for a wide range of species. Some of the best opportunities in the entire bay are here, often supported by great facilities.
The extensive Sandringham breakwater that surrounds the Yacht Club provides a large platform to fish from. On the outside, there are King George whiting, garfish, salmon, trevally, pinky snapper and the occasional calamari, while on the inside black bream can be caught. A whiting outfit and smaller baits should deliver results on either side. A short distance away near the intersection of South Road and Beach Road the Hampton rock groynes provide great snapper fishing in low light or in bad weather. Good calamari are taken there too when conditions are favourable.
There are two options at Brighton. The Brighton Pier provides great family fishing access for calamari and garfish, especially after dark. The large and rugged breakwall continues from the end of the pier and can be popular despite its challenging terrain. When this area is firing, it provides outstanding snapper fishing because the heavy ground surrounding the wall is highly attractive to the species. When snapper are quiet, garfish, whiting, salmon or flathead can be caught. A fine berley trail will bring them in and hold them within casting distance.
St Kilda Pier
In the heart of cosmopolitan St Kilda is the famous pier. Fishing here on a summer’s evening is a special experience with locals and tourists enjoying a stroll and taking in the sights while fishers target pinky snapper, silver trevally, flathead and salmon. Despite its metropolitan location, in the right conditions, the pier offers good snapper for those casting baits with a surf rod into deeper water.
Kerferd Road Pier
There is excellent habitat around the pier ranging from hard reef to sand gutters and weed patches. Good snapper are taken after a big onshore blow, but more commonly fishing lighter gear will deliver pinky snapper, flathead, whiting and silver trevally.
Located on Beach Street in Port Melbourne, Station Pier provides docking for the passenger ferry Spirit of Tasmania. At other times, cruise ships or naval vessels dock there. The main section of the pier can be closed to fishing at these times. The pier provides good fishing in shallow and deep water with various species making an appearance at different times of the year. The small jetty on the right-hand side of the main pier can be productive, particularly during the warmer months. Snapper, flathead, silver trevally, salmon and garfish are the main target species.