Port Phillip Bay

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Fishing in Port Phillip Bay

If you’re visiting Melbourne and are serious about catching some Snapper, then fishing Port Phillip Bay has to be on your to-do list. The largest tidal lagoon in Victoria, this must-fish destination is located in the south of the state, right on Melbourne’s doorstep. The bay is huge – over 1,950 square miles! The majority of the bay is less than 8 meters deep, and during the Australian summer, these waters heat up, making for excellent fishing.

Top Catches

Port Phillip Bay is the best place in the country to go for Pink Snapper. Other species that call these waters home include Gummy Shark, King George Whiting, Australian Salmon, Garfish, and Flathead. At the entrance of the bay, you can find Yellowtail Kingfish, too. Southern Calamari, Anchovies, and Sardines are also commercially caught here and makeup over 50% of the catch in this bay.

Pink Snapper

Port Phillip Bay is world-renowned for its excellent migration of Pink Snapper from October to May. This annual phenomenon is locally called the “Crimson Tide.”  If there’s one thing fishing charters in Port Phillip Bay are famous for, it’s this.

Top spots to catch Snapper are found along the east side of the bay, accessible from Mount Martha, Mornington, and Carrum. You’ll want to stay between Frankston and Mt. Martha for the best chance of reaching your Snapper limit on your trip. The larger Snapper stay in the deep water during the day and are found in waters 15–20 meters deep.

Juvenile Snapper are called ‘Pinkies’ and can be caught year round, but they’re best from December to April. Though they’re small, they put up a great fight. In contrast to the migrating larger Snapper, these Pinkies can be found in the shallows.

Gummy Shark

Gummy Shark can be caught year-round but is best from December to May. This tasty Shark is a treat to take home, whether you hook one while fishing for other species or targeting Gummies intentionally. It’s best to book a charter during the evening, when the Sharks are feeding, for the best chance to hook up your fill. When targeting Gummy Shark, you may be lucky and hook up a Seven Gill Shark – careful though, the Seven Gill has much sharper teeth! Squid can be used to catch both these predators.

King George Whiting

This bay consistently produces the highest number of King George Whiting in Victoria. Why, is it popular? Well, it’s arguably the most delicious fish you can catch in Port Phillip Bay, and the Victorians love eating it! King George Whiting may be small (only 800 grams) but they’re mighty! These tasty fish can be caught throughout the bay in the shallow water, under 10 meters. Find the reefs and grass beds and you’ll find the Whiting, too. December to April is the prime time to catch Whiting, using squid and mussels as bait.

Australian Salmon

This sportfish is not actually a Salmon, but a part of the Trout family. The smaller Salmon found here are called Bay Trout, and can be as small as 200 grams. Larger Salmon can reach sizes of 4 kilograms and will give you a great battle on light tackle due to their power and stamina. Yet the Bay Trout are the ones you want to target if you’re lighting up the barbie after your trip – the smaller fish taste much better! Both are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, but should be bled immediately after being caught if you wish to eat them later.

Yellowtail Kingfish

This game fish, also known as Yellowtail Amberjack in other parts of the world, is popular with anglers because of the battle it gives once hooked. They can reach over 25 kilograms in size, so make sure you have strong handlines! Use squid as bait and troll to catch these big fish. Heads up – when fishing for Australian Salmon you might hook Kingfish instead, who regularly hang out in the Salmon schools.

Port Phillip Bay Fishing Tips

  • For Pink Snapper, use the freshest bait you can, especially during the off-season. Pilchard, Whiting, Squid, Garfish, and Salmon are all enticing.

  • 15 kg braided line is best for going after Snapper. Have a spool capacity of 250 meters.

  • When fishing for Gummy Shark, use fresh squid, Salmon, or eel.

  • King George Whiting love bait such as squid, mussels, and prawns.

  • In the winter, the bite will be much slower. Use small and soft baits to up your chances of catching fish.

Need to Know

The best time to go fishing is during Australia's spring and summer (November to April).

Although there are many ports you can fish from, (Mornington, Mt. Martha, St. Kilda, Point Cook, and many more), parking can be a problem. Leave time before your trip to find a spot, or grab a taxi over to the bay.

Regulations

You’ll need to purchase a Victoria Recreational Fishing Licence before boarding a Port Phillip Bay fishing charter.

Budget

Down under, shared trips are the norm. For an eight-hour trip, expect to pay AUD 200 per person. For a five-hour trip, this halves. Private trips may look expensive, but they can usually accommodate up to 12 people. An eight-hour trip for 12 people can be around AUD 1,500.

Getting There

Fly into Melbourne Airport – head along the M2 for half an hour to get to Port Phillip City. You can head out from this port, or go further around the bay to Mornington, which is 50 minutes from St. Kilda. No matter where you stay by the bay, you can enjoy great access to this year-round fishery.

There’s no end to the fishing Port Phillip Bay has to offer. You’ll come for the Pink Snapper but stay for the other delicious species here.

Port Phillip Bay
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Based on 19433 reviews by FishingBooker anglers

Port Phillip Bay Fishing Seasons

January

This month is prime fishing time, especially for Pink Snapper and King George Whiting.

February

Leatherjacket is great year round, as well as Flathead. Head to one of the many music festivals on land, as the weather reaches highs of 26°C.

March

March is the beginning of the Yellow Eye Mullet season. Whiting continues to bite well.

April

This is an epic month for the Bay – all species can be caught and are biting excellently.

May

This is the last month for Pink Snapper before the winter lull. Flathead and Australian Salmon are biting great still.

June

The bay calms down after the summer frenzy. You can still catch most species, but you’ll need their favourite bait to lure them in. Head to nearby Portland for Tuna now instead!

July

Winter is in full swing now, so the activity on the bay really dries up. Leatherjackets are still on the menu.

August

Flathead and Australian Salmon enter their peak season now. The waters are heating up – spring is just around the corner!

September

Flathead, Leatherjacket, and Australian Salmon can reliably be caught this month.

October

Big Pink Snapper start to return to the bay. This is a great month for Australian Salmon, too.

November

Join in the Peninsula Snapper Challenge and see if your Snapper is the biggest catch. The fishing season has officially kicked off!

December

This is the best month for Pink Snapper: temperature and weather conditions are perfect for them!

Port Phillip Bay Fishing Calendar

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Reviews of Fishing in Port Phillip Bay

Half day with Mark
Satma K. fished with The Reel Thing Charters – St Kilda on February 9, 2019
Yes But check local calendar and avoid when the roads are closed!!
Amazing trip
Diana M. fished with The Reel Thing Charters – Carrum on February 2, 2019
If it’s is your first time book an early trip as it is better early in the mornings
Half Day Trip
Steve W. fished with The Reel Thing Charters – Carrum on January 11, 2019
Be prepared have the knowledge of the Area and fish for what you want to hook up on.
Morning trip with Mark
Clinton S. fished with The Reel Thing Charters – Carrum on January 8, 2019
You just have to have ago their are fish out their and charter company will find them for you .
Extremely satisfied group
Joshua F. fished with The Reel Thing Charters – Carrum on October 13, 2018
Fishing is a sport, you win some you lose some. Going out on a charter does not guarantee you catching your dream fish. Research the area, talk to the captain and book an appropriate time to go.

Top Targeted Species in Port Phillip Bay