Warrnambool provides a great chance at landing that bluefin tuna of a lifetime and has the added bonus of being a good deal closer to Melbourne than other locations further west.
The town’s history is rich with fishing, in particular whaling, and recreational fishers are welcomed with plenty of boat-friendly accommodation. The port itself has a sheltered breakwater and the newly upgraded main boat ramp at Lady Bay.
The deep and fertile waters of the continental shelf remains accessible to fishers using Warrnambool with a run of 55-60 kilometres on average required to reach the drop. This zone is the most consistent, early season tuna location and by far the best place to find albacore as they rarely come much shallower. The good news is that often you do not need to go that deep, with May, June and July being reliable months to find schools of bluefin tuna much closer in, generally from the 40m line and deeper. If you’re heading out from Warrnambool, the 40-70m line is frequently as far as you need to go and pushing along the coast towards Port Campbell should see you come across bluefin.
The larger barrel tuna have been known to make an appearance some seasons just out from Warrnambool. This all depends on whether the bait stacks up in numbers or not, otherwise the fish will swim through. The summer inshore run of tuna can see large schools of fish in extremely close, sometimes within easy access from the harbour.
While it’s a long run to the continental shelf off Warrnambool it's well worth the effort, with plenty of blue-eye available for fishers along with pink ling and blue grenadier. Success is usually found over gravelly or rocky bottoms and quality marine electronics are a great investment for those intent on targeting these beautiful eating fish.
Warrnambool doesn’t have the obvious features to attract kingfish such as Lawrence Rock or Lady Julia Percy Island that other areas in the south-west boast. But there are extensive inshore reefs between Port Fairy and Warrnambool, right along the Shipwreck Coast to Peterborough, that at the right times can attract good-sized schools of ‘kingies’.
Killarney has the reputation as the best location in the area, but the reality is fishers have a vast area to choose from. Kingfish out from Warrnambool receive much less pressure than they do at Port Fairy or Portland. Trolling squid strips and large soft plastic lures are the most popular ways to find and catch them.