Welcome to the Barwon Heads Fishing Guide. Barwon Heads is a popular and scenic township on the southern coast of the Bellarine Peninsula. With clean beaches, boutique shops, surf, cafes, camping and quality fishing available. It’s a location where the Barwon river meets the Bass straight opposite the entrance of Port Phillip Bay so there are ample fishing and water activities available. From land-based, there’s an abundance of small fish that can be caught all year round and fishes particularly well in the winter months. Many spots to target include the beach, Barwon heads bridge, the boat ramp, the golf course and sheep-wash road.
Things to do at Barwon Heads
Barwon Heads is 90 minutes drive from Melbourne passing through Geelong. Surrounding townships include ocean grove and Queenscliff. This whole area is renowned for clean beaches which is very popular with holiday goes most school holidays. Swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, snorkelling and fishing are prime activities here. It’s a great spot for kids who enjoy playing on the sand and in shallow water safely often whist the parents have a rod out fishing. Within the town, 13th beach offers great surfing with qualify waves coming directly from the Bass straight. You also have the Jirrahlinga Koala & Wildlife Sanctuary. 5 acres of land dedicated to the welfare of local animals. In town, there is also stand up paddle boarding hire available, many cafes, restaurants and parks to keep the family busy.
If you’re after a bit more excitement then look no further then Geelong adventure park which has world-class rides and waterslides. Including the new Tsunami waterslide. This is roughly 15 minutes drive from Barwon Heads. Or skydiving and scenic flight tours in surrounding townships.
Fishing at Barwon Heads
Barwon Heads Fishing Guide offers multiple areas to fish providing a very diverse fishing ecosystem. You can fish the Bass straight by land or boat targeting bigger saltwater species or you can fish the Barwon river and target many of the estuary species. Within the Barwon river, you can catch whiting, salmon, mullet, silver trevally, bream, estuary perch, flathead, pinkies, gurnard, mulloway and crabs. I have found small mullet to be the most common catch and big bream and Mulloway as prized catches. Seasonally you can also catch elephant fish typically between Feb-Apr.
There are multiple jetties along this area and it’s also great to target by a kayak or small tinnie. When bait fishing use small hooks as many of the species in the Barwon river have small mouths. Good bait options include yabbies, pilchards, squid, maggots, worms & raw chicken. You can also fish this area effectively with soft plastics. Ideally going with small grubs, worm and minnow imitations. The Savage Gear slim minnow, Z-man grubs and turtleback worms work well in this area.
There’s a lot of small fish in this area so a light rod setup such as a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo rod, coupled with a 2000 or 2500 size reel. It needs to be sensitive to see the bites and inquiries. Usually, a very simple and light running rig or a small paternoster rig does the trick in this location. Using burley really does help keep the fish around. You can catch fish here at any time, but I generally would always suggest at dawn and dusk. Ideally an hour on either side. Some will fish through the night chasing the prize of a mulloway.
13th beach surf area is also a good fishing destination. Which can provide quality catches of salmon all year round but particularly in the colder months when Salmon is active. if you would like to learn more about salmon fishing then read our detailed guide on surf fishing for salmon.
Fishing Bass straight will allow you to target snapper, flathead, snook, barracouta, salmon, squid and some different shark species. There are charter operators in this area should you not have your own boat. If you would like to learn more about targeting snapper then read our detailed guide on how to catch snapper in Barwon Heads
Baits Barwon Heads
- blue bait
- silver whiting
- raw chicken strips
Lures and soft plastics for Barwon Heads
- Squid jigs
- Daiwa Baitjunkie 5 inch jerk shads
- Berkley gulp turtleback worm
- Savage Gear Fat Curl tails
- Daiwa Bautjunkie 4 inch grubs
- Zman slim Swimz
- Berkley powerbait grub
- Gulp 3 inch minnow
- Dawia Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
- Zman grubZ
- eco gear ZX40
- Daiwa Double Clutch
- EcoGear SX40
- Squidges biotough grub
- Zman StreakZ
- Munroes 3.75 inch paddle tails
- Kietech swim impact fat
- Zerek fish trap
- Samaki Vibelicious
Barwon heads boat and kayak access
There are three local boat ramps servicing the estuary. The main ramp is located near Ocean Grove accessible on Guthridge Street. The other two ramps are located along the Barwon Heads river on Sheepwash Road. There is a gravelled launching area ideal for kayaks or small tinnies. The other is a concrete ramp with floating jetty.
Targeting Squid at Barwon Heads
Squid is a frequent catch on the pier towards the front and mid parts of the pier. Just look for the squid ink which is a great indicator of where to target them. Anglers do well-suspending squid jigs with the use of a float. Targeting squid is a fun form of fishing growing in popularity with the reward of fresh calamari. Squid can be caught all year round, you will find them in shallow weedy areas and they respond well to jigs in clear water conditions.
We recommend reading our detailed guide on How to catch squid around Melbourne. An egi rod between 7.5 foot and 9 foot in length is ideal and there are plenty of egi rods on the market fit for purpose. We recommend an 8 foot 3-inch rod paired with a 3000 size reel spooled with 15-pound braid. Squid jigs are prone to snags in this area, and we have found using slow sinking jigs in the smaller size of 2.5 and 3.0-gram jigs will help avoid this problem.
Cast your squid jig to allow time for the jig to sink then do a series of lifts and pauses to imitate a wounded prawn. The natural temptation is to strike Instead, a subtle lift to keep line tension and constant slow reel is all that’s required.
Check out this video a master class on Kayak fishing for squid in Melbourne.
Targeting Whiting at Barwon Heads
Whiting is a bread and butter species which are fun to catch on light spinning gear and taste great. Whiting school up in big numbers and they respond well to berley, so berley an isolated area with a mix of chicken pellets, Tuna oil and pilchards. Whiting fishing requires finesse, so we recommend a light 1-3 or 2-4 kilo spin rod around 7 foot in length. Coupled with a light 1000-2500 size reel, spooled with 4 pounds or 6-pound line and leader.
When bait fishing a simple running rig with a small sinker to swivel, then 40cm of 4-pound leader to a small baitholder long shank hook or a paternoster rig with 2 hooks and a size sinker depending on your conditions. Watch our 25-minute whiting masterclass as we guide you through on everything you need to know to catch whiting.
Targeting Trevally at Barwon Heads
Trevally pound for pound is one of the best fighting fish. In certain parts of Australia surface popping for Giant Trevally is one of the bucket list fishing experiences that you must tick off. However, in Victoria, you will mainly be catching the much smaller silver trevally. Good bait options include blue bait, whitebait, raw chicken, pilchards, pippies, squid and mussels. Trevally will also take a range of soft plastics including worm and minnow imitations, small surface poppers, and small metal spoons.
We recommend targeting trevally with a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 2000, or 2500 reel spooled with 4-8-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. If there are larger trevally in the area than you can go heavier moving up the scale to a 3-5 kilo class spin rod spooled with fine 8-12-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader.
Targeting Salmon at Barwon Heads
Winter is a great time to target salmon as they’re active and schooling up in big numbers. Salmon is a powerful sports fish that punches well above their weight. When hooked they produce strong bursts of speed, powerful runs, vigorous head shakes. Do keep an eye out for gutters which are patches of deeper water which Salmon will swim through in schools. These can be identified by a darker colour of the water.
When bait fishing pick a surf rod between 12-15 foot in length which allows for long casts with heavy sinkers and to keep your lines high above the crashing surf. These will be 6-10 kilo class. We recommend a Paternoster rig with a star sinker. Giving you 2 baits at different heights. You could also attach a surf popper above. Port Phillip Bay Fishing Guide
When lure fishing first consider what weight lures your likely to be casting. We would recommend rods between 9-12 foot in length in 5-10 kilo class paired with a 3000 size reel spooled with 15-pound braid. Good lure options include 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
Targeting Mulloway at Barwon Heads
Mulloway AKA Jewfish are a prized catch that sits on the top of many Victorian anglers bucket list. A stunning fish with a large mouth and distinctive silver or bronze colour. Patience and dedication are required to catch the elusive Mulloway which can reach up to 1.8 meters and 60 kilos. The minimum legal size is 60cm with a daily bag limit of 5 over legal size.
Live baits are a top choice when targeting mulloways such as mullet, salmon, and whiting. Pinning them behind the neck to allow the bait to swim freely. Other staple dead baits can include pilchard, trevally, garfish, prawns, chicken & squid. A running sinker rig to a single 5/0 – 8/0 hook or a double snelled hook to present the bait nicely. Soft plastics between 80mm and 100mm are also a great option. Good options include flick baits, shads, paddle tails and grubz. You can also purchase pre-made rigs and swimbaits which are designed to imitate a fish in its surrounding such as a mullet.
Choosing a Mulloway outfit Recommended gear to target Mulloway 6-10, 10-15 or 12-24 kilo rod paired with a 4000-8000 spin reel spooled with 20-50 pound line and equivalent leader.
Mulloway resides near river mouth entrances. They are often caught near structure such as bridges and pylons. Try to present your baits and lures as natural as possible or use live baits. Mulloway can be caught at any time of the day, but are most active at the night, during peak tides and moon phases. We have found that lures are quite productive during the day and bait more productive at night.
Targeting Snapper at Barwon Heads
We encourage you to read our detailed guide on how to catch snapper. Snapper season locally starts around October and finishes after March. The big reds migrate inshore during this time of year because water temperatures have increased providing ideal spawning conditions. With dawn and dusk are generally considered the best times to be on the water. The most common snapper rods are 7 foot 6 inches in length with a weight class of 4-7 kilos paired with a 4000 or 5000 size reel spooled with 15-30 pound braid or mono and 40 pound leader. You can choose to fish lighter or heavier. Recommended bait options include pilchards either full or half, silver whiting, squid, garfish, mackerel and mullet.
The best soft plastics are large jerk shads, whip baits, curl tails or paddle tails. Most between 4 and 7 inches in size generally coupled with a ½ or ¼ ounce jig head. Some good options include Savage Gear Fat Curl Tails, Daiwa Bait Junkie Jerk shads & Berkley 7 inch turtleback worm, Zman curl tails.
Targeting Elephant Fish at Barwon Heads
Elephant Fish share similar characteristics of a shark but have a unique elephant trunk-like snout which they use to feed on small fish. They do however have good fighting qualities and are much fun to catch on light gear. They are seasonal fish which come into select areas within Western Port and Port Phillip Bay throughout March and May to spawn. Elephant fish are not fussy eaters, and they will happily take a wide range of baits including pilchard, squid and salmon. . We recommend using
Elephant fish has a strong sense and respond well to berley. You can target elephant fish using a 3-5 or 4-6 kilo rod with 3000-4000 size reel spooled with 8 to 12-pound braid. A running sinker to a swivel then 60cm of a strong leader to a circle hook or a paternoster rig with chunks of fresh bait.
Targeting Flathead at Barwon Heads
We encourage you to read our detailed guide on How to catch Flathead. Flathead is a year-round prospect which can be caught at any time of the day. They are an ambush predator that waits in disguise for smaller fish to swim buy for an easy feed. This highlights the importance of keeping your baits and soft plastics towards the bottom. If fishing from a boat or kayak we would recommend drifting around the sandy flats until you find a good patch of them. Also, keep an eye for depth drop-offs which is a great location for an ambush predator to be waiting.
We recommend targeting flathead with a 7 foot 2–4 or 3-5 kilo fishing rod paired with a 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with 8-12lb braid and equivalent leader. You can go lighter, but flathead has bristly teeth that can compromise your fishing line.
Flathead is not fussy and will happily have a go at many various soft plastics and lures. We would highly recommend reading our detailed guide on the best lures and soft plastics to catch flathead. Top choices include worm and yabby imitations, paddle tail soft plastic, curl tail soft plastics, deep diving hard body lures, vibes, swimbaits, and blades.
If your targeting flathead with bait, we recommend using a paternoster rig or running sinker rig. Using a small ball sinker to swivel, then 50cm of 8-12 leader to a size 6 long shank hook. Good baits choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait and prawns.
Barwon Heads Hazards and Restrictions
Barwon Heads Bluff is part of a marine sanctuary. Remember to check with local fishing authorities before fishing around this area. Always ensure you have an active fishing licence and that you follow and local rules.
In terms of hazards, this is is quite low. The beaches can get crowded, so you’ll just want to be careful and make sure you’re keeping a safe distance of those playing on the beach, swimming or paddleboarding. We haven’t seen any snakes in Barwon heads but closer to Geelong along the Barwon River you need to be extremely careful as Tiger snakes are very common around this area. I have bumped into a few Tiger snakes in this area along the way and urge people fishing the Barwon river to be careful and always wear strong protective gumboots and pants.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Barwon Heads Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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