Fishing in Victoria – All You Need to Know
Nov 1, 2021 | 10 minute read
Reading Time: 10 minutes

It might be one of the smallest states on the Australian continent, but Victoria is full of beauty. Whether you’re going to admire the Twelve Apostles at dawn, check out the Pink Lakes, or go fishing for a trophy catch, you’re in for a treat. Fishing in Victoria is one of those experiences passionate anglers simply shouldn’t pass on. 

Twelve Apostles Rocks in Victoria at dawn

If you’re coming to Victoria for the first time or are wondering where to cast a line, we’re here to help. Below, we’ve compiled useful info to make your trip planning easier, so let’s get started!

Top Catches in Victoria

It’s no secret that the waters of Victoria are rich and diverse, so both big game chasers and easy-going recreational fishermen will enjoy themselves. Southern Bluefin Tuna, Sharks, Pink Snapper, and Mulloway are all in the cards, among many more. Here’s what you can look forward to when fishing in Victoria…

Pink Snapper Is Number One

The headliner of top catches are Pink Snapper and they take their rightful place easily. These beauts are among the most desired species in the state, both because they’re strong fighters and because they’re delicious. Spring and summer are the best times to get your fill of Snapper.

Four young men on a fishing boat, each holding a Pink Snapper

Young fish that are under 40 centimetres are called Pinkies, and only when they’re bigger than that, they’re considered grown Snapper. They can weigh anywhere from 1–8 kilograms, depending on their age. If you land a specimen with its weight in double digits, you’ve got a trophy!

With their vivid pink to deep bronze hues and big appetites, Snapper are a delight to hook. You can go after them at all times of day, though knowledgeable fishermen swear by going out just before sunrise and sundown. 

They respond well to live bait and anything from raw chicken to pilchard can work well. If you prefer lures, then soft plastics are the way to go. While you can get Snapper all over Victoria, the place to catch them is Port Philip Bay. The bay can get very crowded during the high season, so arm yourself with patience. It’ll be worth it.

Southern Bluefin Tuna – One of the All-Time Greats

If there’s talk about some of the most exhilarating fishing in Victoria, we need to mention the mightiest species of them all – Southern Bluefin Tuna. Come winter, these speedsters visit Victoria’s coast in the thousands. Boats from all over rush to the continental shelf, where Tuna congregate and feed on huge schools of bait fish.

Two anglers in sunglasses and caps standing on a boat, holding two Southern Bluefin Tuna, with water and blue skies in the background

From May to early August, Bluefins of all sizes are fair game, from 10 kg fish to 80 kg giants. And let’s not even get started on the tasty meat you’ll get. 

Following bait fish is the best way to find Tuna. These predators go after their food religiously, so if you see birds on the water or loads of bait fish on the sounder, it’s time to focus. Trolling with lures at the speed of up to 10 knots will usually get your prey’s attention. 

Anglers in Port Fairy and Portland can even cast for small Tuna from shore, as long as you use strong gear suitable for longer casts. Remember that winter weather can turn very quickly. If the weather is cloudy and windy, you should definitely reschedule your trip. Tuna will be there the next day.

King George Whiting – A Royal Catch

Speaking of the most popular and delicious fish in Victoria, King George Whiting deserve their spot among royalty.  They’re biting year-round, but for the best odds, we’d recommend hitting the water in late autumn and winter. 

A smiling girl in a hat standing on a boat holding a small King George Whiting

Whiting are much smaller than Tuna and Snapper, but what they lack in size they make up for in numbers. They usually weigh 1–3 kilograms, though there are bigger fellas out there. 

You can fish for Whiting from shore and in waters that are a couple of hundred feet deep. They prefer sheltered waters with lots of vegetation, so estuaries and bays are their favourite gathering spots. Larger Whiting hide in deeper waters, while smaller ones are close to land and there’s more of them.

When in doubt about what to use to get your fish, opt for live bait. Use anything from sandworms and yabbies to squid and prawns and you can’t go wrong. Another perk of fishing for King George Whiting – they make for fabulous table fare. Need we say more?

Mulloway – One Fish, Many Names

When the translation of a species’ name is “the greatest one,” not much additional explanation is needed. Mulloway, aka Jewfish, may have many monikers, but everyone agrees on one thing – they’re fun and challenging to catch. 

A fisherman holding a big Mulloway fish caught while night fishing

You’ll easily recognize Mulloway by their big mouths, silvery sheen, and impressive size. Brackish waters are their preferred playground, so river mouths, beaches, bridges, estuaries, and bays are all great spots to chase after them.

Aside from being one of the locals’ favourite species, Mulloway are very elusive, hence another nickname – Silver Ghost. They can grow to weigh more than 50 kilograms (though common catches are smaller) and they fight smart. Well-presented live bait in the form of pilchard, mullet, or squid could do wonders to get Mulloway to bite.

Anglers recommend going after your prey when the visibility is low and water is high. Mulloway night fishing is for the patient fishos who aren’t afraid of losing sleep if it gets them a trophy.

Shark Fishing – Always an Option

Seeing that there are well over 100 Shark species living in the Australian bluewater, it’s hardly a surprise that they’re a prized catch. From the coast of Victoria, you can hook into at least half a dozen different Sharks at all times. So if all else fails, you can always go on a Shark hunt.

A middle-aged angler standing on a boat, holding a big Gummy Shark

You’ll find Gummy Sharks just about anywhere, and they’re one of the most common catches on charter trips. They’re attracted by live bait and will earnestly snatch anything you put on a hook. Gummy Sharks are not dangerous to humans, just gluttonous, and fun to battle.

Other contenders are School, Bronze Whaler, and Mako Sharks, each a more formidable opponent than the last. Makos are aggressive and big, so you’ll feel like you’re trying to reel a freight train in. Bronze Whalers and Tiger Sharks aren’t human-friendly, but they will give you a fight you won’t soon forget.

Charters often offer specialized Shark fishing trips. If you’re targeting Gummy Sharks, you can even do it with your little ones and have a blast. The best thing is that you can always land a Snapper or a Kingfish while waiting for your apex predator to arrive.

Freshwater Fishing in Victoria

Saltwater fishing might be predominant in Victoria, but that’s not to say that freshwater action doesn’t have its place in the hearts of anglers. The Garden State is veined with productive rivers, lakes, and streams that carry many loved freshwater species.

An elderly freshwater angler standing on lake shore and wishing, blue skies and water in the background

Lakes and reservoirs are the first choices of families looking to get a day’s rest and catch something nice for the grill. Most lakes offer all kinds of activities along with a solid bite. When it comes to what you can target, it really depends on the body of water. Anything from Trout and Perch to Whiting and Salmon are an option.

Rivers, as well as their streams and tailwaters, are a lot of fun because you never know what you might get. Trout species are on the to-catch list of every fly aficionado, and then you’ve got Murray Cod, Redfin, and Estuary Perch, among many others. Basically, there’s something for every taste and preference.

Types of Fishing in Victoria

How you’ll explore Victoria’s watersheds depends solely on your preferences and time. If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to offer some pointers to get you going. Here are some of the most popular ways to catch what you’d like.

Fishing with Charters in Victoria

a view from the water at a fishing charter boat with anglers fishing from it

Saltwater enthusiasts ready to battle their next big catch often turn to experienced charter skippers. This especially goes for anglers who’d like to fish the vastness of the Bass Straight and its rich waters. Having a local show you the way to the best spots gives you much better odds of finding your prey and learning something new. Captain Mal of I’m Hooked Fishing Charters paints a good picture of what you can expect:

“We had the wonderful opportunity to take Jason and Michelle out on a private “book the boat” trip, I was able to teach them as much as I can. It’s a great way to learn how to catch Snapper on these private trips and ensure you have all the rods to yourselves by booking the boat.”

If you plan on going on a Tuna hunt or a big game fishing adventure, we’d recommend booking a full day trip. You’ll have enough time to get to the spots, cover more ground, and maybe land something bragworthy. Shorter excursions last 4–6 hours, and they’re perfect for family outings and beginners. Some skippers offer shared trips, where you’ll jump aboard with different groups of people that all share your love of fishing.

There’s no shortage of professional charter fishing crews all over Victoria, so you’ll be spoilt for choice. During the high season, it’s always a good idea to book your spot well in advance, because the boats fill up quickly.

Fishing from Shore

A bird's eye view of a fisherman fishing in the surf on a beach in Victoria

For fishermen who feel confident and want to go off on their own, shore fishing in Victoria can be rewarding. The beauty of wetting your line from land is that there are many different approaches to it. Piers and jetties are always a good option, or you can try surf fishing directly from beaches.

A big plus of fishing from shore is that there’s a slew of species you can target. Flathead are one of the best-known catches of land-based fishers, but King George Whiting and Leatherjacket are also up there. If you pick your spot well, you could even find Pinkies or small Bluefin Tuna. Just remember to bring strong equipment if you’re going after game fish. You don’t want to lose a great catch because you didn’t choose your gear well.

Fly Fishing in Victoria

A fly fisherman standing in a mountain river, caught in the middle of a cast

Where there’s a solid freshwater scene, there’s room for excellent fly fishing. It’s up to you if you want to go to the spots just outside of big cities or head further into the wilderness, for pristine streams and peace.

Rainbow and Brown Trout are the main suspects of every fly fisherman. Local authorities know this and go out of their way to regularly stock lakes with Trout, which attracts more people every year. If wild Trout is more your game, then backcountry tailwaters and streams offer a strong bite in spring and summer.

Bear in mind that Salmonids have a closed season during the winter, usually from mid-June until the beginning of September. However, some watersheds have special regulations, so make sure to double-check the rules before you head out.

Best Fishing Spots in Victoria

You’ve got the “what” and the “how” so let’s talk about the “where.” Here’s a look through some of the must-visit fishing spots in Victoria.

Melbourne skyline as viewed from the river
  • Melbourne: It’s only fair to start our list with Victoria’s capital. Melbourne’s fishing potential is fantastic, whether you’re fishing on its surrounding lakes or going offshore for a battle against the mighty game fish. Anything from Perch to Tuna is on the table!
  • Port Philip Bay: This legendary spot needs to introduction. Easily one of the best deep sea fishing destinations in the state (and beyond), Port Philp Bay wows with its diversity. Pink Snapper are king and the most beloved catch in the bay.
  • Bass Strait: Speaking of deep sea fishing hubs, Bass Straight is right there at the top. All the favourites come out to play here – Snapper, Sharks, Yellowtail Kingfish, Whiting, and more. Bluefin Tuna and Swordfish also show up in the winter to up the ante.
  • Portland: if you’ve still got big game fishing on your mind, then head out to Portland’s bluewater. There, some 50 kilometres from land, you’ll find the continental shelf where trophy-sized Bluefin Tuna hunt and where you can land your next personal record.
  • Yarra River: One of the most popular freshwater haunts, Yarra River will not disappoint. This is one of the best spots to catch Mulloway, but the Trout bite isn’t too shabby either.
  • Lake Eildon: Also known as the Eildon Pondage, this is the go-to spot for families who love fishing. Trout fishing is on fire here, and there’s a lot of Perch too. The lake can get crowded on the weekends, so make sure you get there early.
  • Warrnambool: If you’re driving down the Great Ocean Road, you’ll eventually come to Warrnambool. The city boasts a mix of freshwater and saltwater opportunities, so think Mulloway and Estuary Perch, as well as Bream and Trout.

Victoria Fishing Rules & Regulations

An image that says Victoria Fishing Regulations against a blue background

The most important thing to cover as you’re preparing your fishing trip in Victoria is your fishing licence. Anglers who are 18 and older need to have a Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL) which can last three days, 28 days, one year, or three years. You can buy one from an agent or get a digital version online.

One important regulation to note is that you’re only allowed to clean and fillet Tuna once you’re on dry land, not while you’re on the charter boat. There are also daily bag and size limits you need to adhere to, but your skipper will keep you in the loop about them. If you’re fishing solo, be sure to familiarize yourself with the latest regulations.

Fishing in Victoria – Southern Action at Its Best!

An aerial view of a marina in Victoria

As you can see, there’s plenty to do and fish for in beautiful Victoria. Whether you’re in for it for the quantity or quality, the Garden State’s fisheries cater to all levels of fishos. Fishing in Victoria is one of those experiences you only need to give a chance once, and you’ll be hooked for good. So why not get started?

Have you ever been fishing in Victoria? What were your impressions? Is there something we missed? A story you’d like to share with the community? Let’s talk in the comments.

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