Port Phillip Bay is one of Australia’s largest tidal lagoons covering around two thousand square kilometres and having a maximum depth of over 30 meters. The entrance to Port Phillip Bay is just over three kilometres wide and is know as the “Rip”. The Rip is one of Australia’s most dangerous port entrances and should only be navigated in very calm conditions or by the experienced.
Port Phillip Bay is home to many of the table fish regularly chased in Victorian waters. Flathead, Whiting, Bream, Snapper, Gummy Shark,Squid and Garfish are just a few of the species that fill a creel after a days outing on the Bay. There are many different hotspots around PFB, the best way to find out where they are biting is to talk to the locals or visit the local Bait and Tackle shop. As a general rule people in this area are more than willing to help you in your quest to catch a brace.
The southern end and the entrance of PFB are home to many species. Snapper, Flathead, Garfish, Squid, Whiting, Snook, Salmon, Sharks and Yellowtail King Fish are targeted throughout different periods of the year. People fishing the rip do quite well, Whiting,Snapper, Squid, Barracouta, Leatherjacket and Salmon are regular catches. The warmer months of November to April are the peak time for this area as this is the time when the Snapper, Squid, Whiting and Yellowtail King Fish run. Squid migrate into the bay each year around the month of October to Spawn. The squid that enter the bay to spawn are quite large and commonly reach weights in excess of three kilograms. The best areas to try for these monsters are Queenscliff, Point Lonsdale and Point Nepean. Snapper enter the bay in late October and are one of the most sorts after fish the bay has to offer. Yellowtail King Fish are regularly targeted off the stone wall at Nepean Bay where anglers will regularly anchor six hundred meters out on an out going tide as they chase these big green rockets. The land based anglers do very well in this area, specialist Land Based Game fishermen do quite well off the piers of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale. The most commonly caught species of shark are Seven Gill Sharks.
The region of the Bellarine Peninsula is a Hot spot for King George whiting, the waters of St Leonard’s to Prince George Bank are the locations. The channels off St Leonard’s are also home to Snapper yet the local population of small Flathead can make fishing difficult. As a rule if the Snapper are around the Flathead will disappear. For the land based angler after a strong northerly blow Snapper can be caught of the St Leonard’s pier. As you move up the bay on the western side the boat ramp of Intended Head gives good access to Prince George Bank. Areas worth looking at along the bank are Grassy Point and the Governor reefs for large King George Whitingand The Prince George Light tide scour and its associated drop off are known Snapper hotspots. Land based anglers are well served by the pier at Portarlington that regularly produces catches of Whiting,Flathead and Leatherjacket in the summer months. Point Richards off Portarlington is a know hot spot for Whiting especially during the warmer months. Three kilometres out on the North side of Port Richards channel offers good Snapper fishing the best spots are located between beacons numbers three and five. This area is easily accessed from the Port Arlington boat ramp.
Geelong’s Corio Bay is home to Whiting, Snapper and Flathead. Land Based anglers are well served by Cunningham Pier. Cunningham Pier regularly produces Trevally, Flathead, Barracouta and Slimly Mackerel. The Geelong Grammar School Lagoon is well known for its regular catches of big Flathead, Spotted Ling, Snapper and Gummy Sharks. Just north of Geelong, Avalon is a regular hotspot for Whiting. The best place to fish is between the old channel markers inside the old channel.
Clifton Springs has a boat ramp that gives good access to the excellent fishing on offer at Curlewis Bank where good catches ofwhiting are the norm. The area of Werribee gives the angler good access bream, whiting and snapper fishing. For whiting in this area, look for groups of boats as they will indicate the areas that are productive at the present time. In this region you will also encountersnapper in shallow water. The area of Kirk Point is a know hot spot for reds in shallow water. The trick is to anchor up in the hours of darkness throw out some burly and hang on.
Between Point Cook and Williamstown lies a large expanse of broken
ground in both shallow and deep water. This area is home to many species
with Snapper, Whiting and Flathead making up the majority of the bag.
Whiting anglers in this area favour the waters close to the Altona
shoreline. This area is also productive for Snapper after a strong on
The top of the bay and the region of Hobson’s Bay produce Beam, Mullet, Whiting, Flathead, Snapper and the occasional Mulloway. Anglers fishing an area known as the “Hotties” catch all the local species as well as Tailor. The Hotties is a channel of water where the Power station at Newport pumps hot water into the bay. This area creates a fish paradise. The trick is to fish this area when the warm waters flow. The area is a real hotspot for lure anglers. Bream, Tailor and Mulloway are regularly caught using both hard-bodied and soft plastic lures.
The Melbourne Docklands area is also another area of interest for the
bream and lure fisherman. This area is well known as a big bream
hotspot and anglers often encounter resident Mulloway. The preferred
method of fishing in this region is now soft plastics but it should also
be remembered that bait still works quite well.
Anglers fishing between Elwood and Sandringham catch large amounts of Snapper from November till Christmas. The prime time in this area is just before sun rise and sun set. Garfish are also common in this area especially when the Snapper are running. You don’t need a boat in this area to get amongst the fish; the shore based fishing options are quite good and regularly produce good catches of Salmon, Whiting and Snapper.
Large Mussel beds are located off Aspendale, Edithvale and Chelsea and are home to Snapper of all sizes in the warmer months. Its also common for anglers fishing this area to do battle with largeMulloway, yet few are landed.
The waters out wide off Seaford and Frankston produce large amounts of Snapper from November till April. Whiting and squidinhabit the shallower waters giving many options to the boat fisherman.
The waters between Frankston and Mount Martha are noted as Port Phillip Bays best Snapper grounds. Large numbers of Snappermigrate to this area each year from late October till early April; it’s believed that the Snapper enter the bay to breed. Anglers make the most of this opportunity and many ventures out in search of Victoria’s favourite sportfish are made.
Mornington and Mount Martha are popular with anglers. Whiting,Squid, Flathead and Pike are caught all year round. Snapper, Sharks,Garfish and Salmon are abundant in the warmer months. Land based anglers are well catered for in this area with Mornington Pier and many rocky platforms providing consistent catches of Squid,Whiting, Snapper, Salmon, Flathead and Barracouta.
Off Safety Beach there is an extensive system of grass beds and reef
that is home to Squid and Whiting. This area is easily located by
launching your boat at Safety Beach and motoring out to the local mussel
farm. Both inside and outside the Mussel Farm are productive.
The deep water off Portsea is home to Flathead, Snapper and sharks.
The Grass beds and reefs of Sorrento and Blairgowrie are famous for
their whiting and squid. Out in the shipping
channel Snapper andSharks are also caught. The most popular location is
known as the Shark Hole and is found just north of Sorrento. For the
land based angler the Sorrento Pier produces Squid, Whiting and
The region of Point Nepean is an excellent fishing locationproducing, Squid, Whiting, Snapper, Sharks, Kingfish and Flathead. Before fishing this region check with the local authorities to find out witch areas are marine parks.
King George Whiting
Pound for pound a king George whiting pulls as hard as anything, yet as far as a sports fish go their size limits them. King George Whitingare arguably one of Southern Australia’s best eating fish, their delicate flavour and firm white flesh make most anglers drool at just the thought of landing a couple. Whiting can be found through out the bay. Places to concentrate your efforts should be over grass beds, patchy reef or any area of broken ground. It is rare for whiting to be found in water depths exceeding ten meters. Port Phillip Bay whiting rarely exceed eight hundred grams, yet for those anglers fishing the months between December and April a fish in the one kilo range is always a chance. The Whiting’s preference of habitat makes them an ideal target for both land based and boat anglers alike. When a school of whiting is located it’s not uncommon for angler to catch their bag limit  in less than one hour. Tackle for whiting should be kept simple. A light spinning rod and reel will suffice in most situations. Line should not be over four kilograms and number four long shank hooks are the choice of most anglers. A running sinker rig is the most popular coupled with a sinker to suite the condition. Best baits for whiting are mussels, squid, pippies and sand worms.
Bream are not exactly caught in the bay yet a number of the rivers flowing into Port Phillip Bay hold quite healthy populations. The Werribee, Marybinong, Yarra, Patterson and Balcombe rivers all produce at various times of the year. Normal bream fishing techniques are employed very successfully.
Squid are caught throughout the bay over most grass beds and reefs. I deal squid locations are flat reef with good weed cover in about three to four meters of water. The squid in the bay vary in size depending on the location that you’re fishing. Anglers in the southern end of the bay catch squid up to and over three kilos. Squid throughout the rest of the bay tend to range around the two to four hundred gram mark. The most popular method of catching squid in Port Phillip Bay is by the use of Prawn or Yo-Zuri squid jigs. These jigs cast and retrieved in a slow jerking and sinking method are quite productive. Bait Jigs are also used by anglers especially those fishing the southern end of the bay, this style of offering is very effective on larger Squid. Once a school of squid is located it can be quite easy to catch your limit of 10. Squid are not just fantastic to eat they are also one of the best baits for fishing Port Phillip Bay. Snapper, Whiting, Flathead and Gummy shark are just a few of the species that find a feed of squid irresistible.
Salmon are one of the Bay’s true sports fish, their power and stamina provide great sport on light tackle. They are a schooling fish that move around the bay freely. Salmon tend to stay relatively close to shore and prefer a bottom with patchy reef. This being said they are liable to turn up at any time. Salmon range in size from two hundred grams to over four kilos. The smaller salmon in the bay are locally referred to as Bay Trout. A school of Salmon are usually located quite easily as diving birds indicate the presence of bait that the salmon have herded up.
Garfish are found throughout Port Phillip Bay during the warmer months. They can be caught in close over the same sorts of seabeds as whiting or out deep in the channels while fishing for Snapper. The key to getting a few garfish around your boat is a good Burley. Tuna Oil, bread, fish scraps and pellets make the perfect burley. When attracted their schools can be quite large. With the aid of a float, a number 12 or 13 hook baited with silver fish, maggots, Pippies or fish pieces they are great fun to catch for the whole family. Garfish are not only good to eat they also make fantastic Snapper bait.
Yellowtail Kingfish reach over twenty-five kilos and are the only real game fish the bay as to offer other than Sharks. The place to chase Kingfish is in the Rip and along the Lonsdale wall. Many locals’ fish for them using a technique of slowly trawling with strong handlines baited with squid. If the conditions are favourable trawling with medium sport fishing outfits is also productive. Lures such as Konaheads, rubber squid and minnow styles are all productive. Kingfish are also encountered when fishing for Salmon as the occasionally mix into the salmon school.
Snapper are caught in Port Phillip Bay all year round. Yet the
majority of the larger fish are caught between October and April. It’s
during this period each year that large numbers of ocean going Snapper
enter Port Phillip Bay. This migration is believed to be due to the
fishes’ urge to breed. Snapper are in Port Phillip Bay when food is
plentiful; summer migrations of Whiting, Squid, Salmon and Pilchards
make this a time of plenty. Large resident Snapper can be caught all
year round if your willing to put in the time and effort required. One
such location known for its winter Snapper is Corio Bay. While not
growing to the same sizes as their South Australian cousins there are
enough fish between three and seven kilograms to keep everybody happy.
The occasional fish in excess of ten kilograms is landed each year by a
few lucky anglers. Snapper are a schooling fish, once located large
catches can be common but remember size and bag limits.
While large snapper are normally caught in deep waters smaller juvenile fish known locally as Pinkies are quite often caught over the same shallow broken grounds that Whiting haunt. Pinkies are ferocious feeders and move about in large schools. They provide great entertainment on light spinning outfits. While Pinkies are caught all year round the peak time to chase them is the months of December till April.
Snapper are fished for with lines ranging from four to ten kilograms depending on the type of bottom your fishing over.
Best baits for Snapper are Squid, Silver Whiting, Cuttlefish, Octopus, Pilchards, Barracouta and Salmon.
The most regularly caught edible shark in Port Philip Bay is theGummy
Shark. They are generally a bi-catch of Snapper fishing. Sharks are
most common in the bay during the warmer months as the follow the
migrations of fish into the warm water of the bay. Seven Gill, Whaler,
Thrasher, Gummy, School and even Moko and Blue sharks are caught. Not
many anglers in Port Phillip Bayprimarily chase sharks, yet those that
do have exceptional results. Many sharks over one hundred kilograms are
encountered. Of the larger species Seven Gill and Whaler Sharks are the
The best baits are oily bloody fish flesh baits like Tuna, Trevally,Salmon and Pilchards.
Port Phillip Bay is serviced by many quality boat ramps, yet car
parking can be a problem and launching fees are charged at most ramps.
Those wishing to fish Port Phillip Bay require a fishing licence and
also a boating licence for those venturing out in boats that are
not self drive charters (hire boats). Fishing licences are obtained from
most bait and tackle stores and a one-year licence is reasonable priced
at twenty dollars. Boat Licence test are written multiple answer exams
conducted at Vic Roads offices.
Port Phillip Bay is a fantastic fishing destination. Due to the shape of the Bay there is always a location where the wind is blowing offshore. With Port Phillip Bay covering over two thousand square kilometres and being Australia’s largest tidal lagoon there is plenty of room for everybody to catch a brace.