Western Port Phillip
Hobsons Bay is a transitional area where the Yarra River enters Port Phillip. A wide variety of species are encountered, all in the shadow of the West Gate Bridge and cosmopolitan Williamstown.
Williamstown is a favourite with Melbournians and a source of year-round fishing action thanks to its extensive reef system. It’s well serviced by an excellent upgraded boat ramp referred to as Newport The Warmies boat ramp. Parking for cars with trailers is limited and can fill up fast on busy days. Other launching options include Altona, Werribee and even St Kilda.
Pushing out into Hobsons Bay, fishers can target fish amongst moorings though most head to the reef outside the Williamstown Football Ground. This large reef slopes from around six metres to approximately nine before dropping onto sand all the way out to the shipping channel. Inshore, there are more isolated patches of reef in water as shallow as 4 metres. Pinky snapper and salmon can be caught here year-round and in the warmer months snapper arrive too. A series of rubble patches at the entrance to Kororoit Creek are worth checking out, but ensure you stay outside the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary nearby. Towards Altona there is another productive reef in shallow water. The popular area around the P2 marker often produces good snapper too.
Williamstown offers fantastic shore-based opportunities for the keen fisher and family alike and there is nowhere else in all of Port Phillip quite like The Warmies!
The Newport power station sits on the west bank of the Yarra River near the West Gate Bridge. It’s known by several nicknames such as The Warmies or Hotties. When the power station is running, the warm water discharge enters the Yarra and attracts a wide range of species. Tailor, salmon, mulloway, snapper, flathead, bream and barracouta are common. When fishing is at its best, fishers stand side by side to get in on the action. And for good reason too. The bottom is extremely heavy so tackle losses can be high. Come with plenty of spares.
The Gem Pier is an historic structure in Williamstown of about 145 metres in length and currently home to the museum ship HMAS Castlemaine. The pier is best known for good bream fishing on bait amongst the pylons or towards the moored boats. Pinky snapper and flathead are also taken here, with occasional catches of salmon, trevally and garfish too, especially if using a light berley. The pier is an extremely popular one with fishers and the public alike so wet a line early or late in the day. Similar good fishing can be had at the Ferguson Street pier nearby. The entire inshore area around Hobsons Bay is a mecca for kayak fishers who target trophy fish like mulloway and big snapper close to shore.
Altona is the premier boat ramp on the western side of Port Phillip, boasting the best facilities with multiple launching lanes and a safe harbour from all wind directions. Parking can be challenging on busy days in spring and summer. Snapper is the main target however King George whiting, calamari and flathead are on offer too. The Altona Pier is one of the best shore-based platforms around, with a productive artificial reef within casting range.
Out from the Altona harbour, boat fishers can catch whiting, pinkies, and flathead in the patchy shallow ground. Towards Williamstown, the mouth of the Kororoit Creek holds whiting and flathead but be mindful of the marine park boundary. The Williamstown Football Ground reef is a year-round favourite for pinky snapper and bigger snapper too in spring and summer. Big salmon schools can also show up at any time. The ‘yellow stick’ area is usually good for whiting, pinky snapper and flathead. One of the best flathead drifts in the bay is the area between Altona Pier and Point Cook. The mouth of Skeleton Creek, on the drop off and channels, can produce big flathead and the occasional gummy shark. The shallows near Kirk Point are well known for snapper. Out in the deeper water, the P2 marker is a famous big snapper area along with the Fawkner Beacon. The edges of the shipping channel transit lane are a highway for snapper in spring and snapper, just don’t anchor in the channel because enormous cargo ships enter the port using that deep water.
Click for information on Altona boat ramp.
The Altona Pier is productive and extremely popular! There is a series of artificial reefs off the end that attract pinky snapper, flathead, leatherjackets and salmon. Below the pier structure, the pylons are home to black bream, and garfish can be caught with help from a light berley trail to bring them in closer and hold them. The Altona Pier can produce big snapper in the right conditions, usually when it is rough, or soon after. Off the sides of the pier are weed beds interspersed with sand. Calamari and whiting can be caught here, where the water is only two or three metres deep. To the right of the pier there is good habitat for flathead and wading the shallows and casting soft plastic lures is popular in summer. The breakwall can provide great fishing for flathead and pinky snapper.
The Werribee side of Port Phillip offers great fishing opportunities for a range of species including snapper. There are extensive weed beds out from Werribee and to the west, which are terrific habitat for thriving populations of calamari, King George whiting and flathead. The boat ramp at Werribee South is excellent. It’s situated in the Werribee River, which has a maintained depth. The ramp is usable at all stages of the tide. Parking is limited and weed can be a problem on the ramp itself. Kayaks can be launched at the Werribee ramp or nearby at Campbells Cove.
Boat based fishers launching from Werribee have options and neither involve going far! Snapper, flathead, gummy sharks, calamari and whiting are all available on the reefs from Point Cook to Kirks Point. The Werribee River estuary itself is home to bream, trevally, mullet, estuary perch, salmon and at times even mulloway. The inner reefs at Point Cook are a great area to drift using soft plastic lures or smaller baits. These will be devoured by pinkie snapper or flathead if they’re in the area. Excellent whiting and flathead are at Point Wilson, towards Avalon. Campbells Cove and Wyndham Harbour produce flathead, pinkie snapper and calamari, and are great for kayak fishers because you don’t need to venture far. The 10-metre line out from Werribee South is a productive zone for snapper. Anchor and berley along either side of the shipping channel for snapper and gummy shark.
Click for more information on Werribee South boat ramp.
Werribee has a small pier at the boat ramp in the river which can produce bream, salmon and sometimes mullet. The river itself is a healthy estuary with kilometres of fishable water at various points of access. The Werribee South Beach extends from the Werribee River mouth all the way to the rock wall at Wyndham Harbour. From the beach it’s possible to wade and cast for flathead and whiting and sometimes calamari. Be on the lookout for sand patches and holes amongst the weed beds. They’re your casting targets.
Corio Bay is within Port Phillip, situated on the western side and overlooked by the city of Geelong. It’s an active industrial port with shipping terminals so be aware of ships and your proximity to channels when transiting and anchoring, especially when fishing the Inner harbour. Corio Bay is especially famous for big snapper in winter however provides more than that with a range of fishing opportunities. As snapper enter the bay in numbers during spring, a good number make their way up the west side and filter out onto reefs of Corio Bay. Its north side is adequately serviced by two boat ramps, Point Wilson Kirk Point and Avalon. Both are exposed to any wind from the south. Nearby, Limeburners and St Helens are better facilities with floating pontoons and more protection from the wind.
In favourable conditions, Avalon’s extensive shallow flats, are great for kayak and boat fishers alike. Excellent fishing for whiting exists around Avalon and Kirks Point in water as shallow as 2 or 3 metres. Exceptional weed beds and rubble are all the way out towards the channel, where you can anchor for snapper. When the water clears up, calamari move into this area as well. Move around until you find a school of whiting and use berley to keep them close and active. Between Avalon and Point Wilson is an area known as The Paddock where a range of species are found including snapper, gummy shark, flathead and whiting! Limeburners Bay is an estuary in the northwest corner of Corio Bay and is famous for big snapper at certain times. Flathead, bream, trevally, pinkie snapper and whiting can all be caught here. The areas around the Shell refinery, Corio Quay and the North Shore rocks are great for snapper. There is a water-cooling outlet just past the pier that attract a range of species including occasional runs of yellowtail kingfish. The channel edge straight out from the St Helens ramp boasts good reef where you’re in with a great shot at snapper and flathead. The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) have invested significantly in the rehabilitation of natural shellfish reefs in Corio Bay:
Avalon offers a great range of shore-based options. Around dawn and dusk, pinky snapper, trevally and whiting are on offer from the breakwall at Limeburners boat ramp. In summer, fishers walking Avalon Beach target flathead and whiting that move up into the shallows. For the best chance at them, cast into sand holes in between the weed.
Floating pontoons at the St Helens ramp can be good for garfish and mullet. The rockwall is popular too because fishers can drive a car right up to the fishing spot and stay comfortable in bad weather or into the evening. Lighting has improved in this area too for night-time sessions. Snapper, whiting, trevally, and big flathead are all caught here. The North Shore rocks at low tide are great for pinky snapper, whiting, calamari. At night, any time of year but especially in winter, they’re a great base for big snapper. The man-made shellfish reef at St Helens is called Merv’s Reef, named after the late Merv McGuire. It’s ideal for land-based fishers because it’s 62 metres from the breakwall. That is not so close as to be an unwelcome snag, but close enough to pull fish from with a good cast.