Surf fishing in Victoria for salmon. Winter is the best time of the year to hit the surf beaches in search of salmon around Victoria. Salmon is an iconic bread and butter fishing species that school up in big numbers. When that school comes within casting distance the action is frantic and fun. Salmon is an underrated powerful sports fish that punch well above their weight. When hooked they produce strong bursts of speed, powerful runs, vigorous head shakes. They will put on an aerial acrobatic show as an attempt to spit the hook. This is a truly underrated style of fishing. It’s fun but very different from other forms of fishing styles, here are a few tips to get you started.



Bait rod for salmon fishing in the surf

One key difference from Surf fishing to other styles of fishing is the rod length. The usual fishing rod when fishing from the surf is generally between 10 foot and 15 foot in length. I have always found 12 foot to be about the sweet spot depending on where your fishing. Using a fishing rod of this length allows you to keep your lines high above the crashing surf. It also allows you to cast longer distances with heavier sinkers.

These days long fishing rods are becoming increasingly lighter thanks to new graphite technology improvements. This means you can go for a light 5-10 kilo or medium 8-12 kilo fishing rod which will still cast a mile and provide tremendous strength without weighing you down. There are also heavier rod setups from 12-20 kilo. These heavier outfits will also work and allow you to also target gummy sharks and mulloway.

Currently, I’m using a Penn prevail surf rod which is a comfortable 12 foot in length and a 8-12 kilo capacity which feels great. It’s light enough for salmon but big enough for bigger bycatch species.

Selecting a lure rod to flick metal lures for salmon in the surf

Before selecting a suitable lure rod you first need to spend some time considering what weight lures your likely to be casting. For instance, if your looking to cast metal lures over 60 grams in weight then only certain rods on the market are designed to handle that capacity without a snapper rod tip and vice versa you don’t want a stiff heavy rod if you’re looking to flick lighter lures and plastics. These rods in recent years have also benefited in technology advancements getting lighter and thinner without compromising on strength. For anglers, it means you can cast all day without getting tired quickly and that you’re going to have more bringing in the fish.

If your looking for a great general purpose rod that will give you great casting distance and cover a whole range of lure options then I would suggest picking a rod between 9-11 foot in length and 5-10 kilo class. I’m using a Daiwa sensor Sandstrom 10 foot 6-10 kilo rod which works a treat. I have it spooled with 10 pound braid and it casts a long way whilst not being too heavy. There are plenty of good options in this range covering many different budgets so give some thought to your desired lure weight and they will put you in the right place.

Big land base salmon

Fishing in the surf rod suggestions

If your looking for a new surf rod then we would suggest you look at the following options

Daiwa Sensor, Daiwa Sensor Sandstorm, Samiki Zing, Daiwa Seajigger, Penn Prevail, Wilson MT series, Shimano Auerowave, Shimao Revolution Coastal fishing, Shimano Raider Surf, Shimano Maikuro, Daiwa Seabass, Daiwa Lateo, Shakespear Ugly Stick platinum, Live Fibre light surf, Aird 106MHFS/4000 combo

Rig setup

When bait fishing for salmon we believe the best setup is a Paternoster rig with a star sinker. As shown in the image below. This gives you 2 separate baits at different heights. You could also attach a surf popper if you wanted to further increase your chances.

Another great variation is to present 1 full bait with double snelled hooks. This rig is perfect when your target multiple species such as salmon, mulloway and gummy sharks

Bait suggestions to catch salmon

We recommend the following baits are Blue Bait & Pilchards. When you come across a big school there likely to take just about anything but we would always go either Blue Bait or Pilchards.

Catching salmon with lures

A really fun way to target salmon is with lures. There’s something special about turning up to a beach only with 1 rod and a couple of lures. Typically when targeting pelagic species such as salmon you would go with 1 of the following available options.

Option 1 is a simple metal lure or metal slug. This is by far the most popular and affordable choice. These come in different weights, colours and sizes but typically they are cheap to purchase and cast a mile. You simply cast out and as soon as the lure hits the water you close your bail arm and start a constant retrieve at a fast or medium pace depending on the lure weight and water depth. A metal lure will start as light as 10g but go all the way up to 80 grams. Just make sure to check the specs on your fishing rod as not all rods are designed to handle heavy metal lures and doing so on a rod to light might mean you end up with a snapped tip on your fishing rod.

Option 2 is a minnow style lure. These are generally more expensive come with a bib at the front and come in a whole range of colours and patterns to imitate a natural-looking minnow or baitfish. These can be retrieved constantly like a metal slug or you can add pauses and lifts to make it imitate a wounded baitfish.

Option 3 is minnow style soft plastics, the big problem if your fishing at the surf is you won’t likely be able to cast your soft plastic long enough to reach the right areas. However, if you happen to be fishing on a pier, boat, kayak or estuary were salmon are then any bait or minnow imitation soft plastic will work a treat. Cast and medium retrieve will work wonders.

Lure suggestions

It’s hard to go past long casting metal lures and minnows, here are some of our favourites. Most which imitate a pilchard or bait-fish

  • Savage Gear Missile
  • Halco twisty
  • Ecogear Teibo
  • JM Gilles pilchard baitfish
  • Rapala X-Rap SXR
  • Lazer spoons
  • Zman slim swimz
  • trick swimz
  • Halco laser pro

Metal lures for salmon


Keep an eye out for gutters, these are patches of deeper water which Salmon will swim through in schools. These are generally identified by a darker colour of the water. This is a very important component of targeting salmon that can mean the difference between a productive and quiet day.

If your fishing with bait then we would recommend keeping the rod in your hands so you can feel any bites. This can often be quite tricky if the rod is in a rod holder as the waves crashing around your line and moving your bait around

If you do plan on using a rod holder then use one which elevates the rod high. The logic here is that it’s keeping the slackline above the crashing waves allowing you to better identify nibbles and to stop your bait from moving around too much

If bait fishing and the bite is quiet add a surf popper and see if that can help trigger a bite.

Salmon hotspots around Melbourne & Victoria

  • Gunnamatta beach
  • Lorne
  • Kilcunda beach
  • Torquay
  • Venus Bay
  • Apollo Bay
  • Phillip Island ( Cape Woolamai )
  • Port Phillip Bay

Here are our detailed fishing locations guide covering over 150 locations around Melbourne and Victoria to go fishing.

Most productive times

Salmon are often in an aggressive mood on sunrise and sunset, but if you find the gutters or the schools then the time of day really won’t matter that much.

A final word from the author

Thanks for reading Surf fishing for salmon. I love fishing and I’m happy catching any type of fish regardless of the size or species. I love targeting salmon, they truly are an underrated sports fish. Remember to always check fishing regulations and catch limits in your area. Where possible practice catch and release you don’t need to hit your bag limits just keep a couple for a feed.

If you have any further ideas then please share them by sending your ideas to or if you would like to send us pics of your kids fishing we would love to add them to the page.