The Hopkins River is one of the most popular waterways with fishers in western Victoria. At almost 300km long, the estuarine water extends a short distance from its ocean entrance at Warrnambool to Allansford, a journey of about 9km.
The system is well serviced by multiple boat ramps and there are many places for shore-based fishing. It’s worth noting the entrance is only periodically open to the ocean.
The river has significant deep holes, weedy edges, flats and reef sections, all providing a wide range of habitats for popular species in the estuarine reach such as bream, estuary perch and mulloway. In the freshwater section upstream, excellent fishing for stocked brown trout can be had.
Bream are available all year and are the most sought-after species by far. During heavy rain events bream move into the lower reaches and can concentrate in big numbers. In summer bream often push up onto the edges to feed on crabs, shrimp and worms and can be seen on the shallow flats cautiously moving around.
Estuary perch can be found near the same structure that bream favour, though will commonly lay in deep holes during the day along with mulloway, only moving into feeding mode at night.
Good baits for bream and estuary perch include sandworms, peeled prawn, whitebait, crabs and bass yabbies.
Many fishers use light gear and a stealthy approach, casting vibes into deep sections as well as small soft plastic lures and small crankbaits around the snags and edges.
For mulloway it is hard to beat using mullet that you can catch in the system or 3.5-inch soft plastic lures.
In the freshwater reaches boats are unsuitable and some amazing shore-based fishing is available for quality brown trout walking the banks and casting soft plastic lures and bibbed crankbaits. Be prepared to walk a few kilometres fishing pools and runs. The annual closed season for trout during the cooler month does not apply to the Hopkins so consider it a year-round trout fishery.