Welcome to the Barwon River Fishing Guide. The Barwon River stretches for 160 kilometres starting in the Otway ranges, then flowing through the township of Geelong then through townships along the Bellarine peninsula such as Ocean Grove before going out to sea at the Bass straight adjacent Barwon Heads. The river is home to many species of birds, fish, eels, rats wallabies and platypus. 15 different creeks and rivers flow into the Barwon River with Lake Connewarre and Moorabool the most notable. The Barwon River is a unique place to fish along with many popular rural townships. These days we often see massive carp being caught in the lower reaches and a healthy volume of fish near the mouth entrance.

Watch our video fishing the Barwon river for redfin, estuary perch and carp

Things to do on Barwon River

The Barwon River passes through rural townships including Geelong and Ocean Grove along the Bellarine peninsula before going out to see in the Bass straight near Barwon heads. Along the Barwon river, you can enjoy a picnic at the riverside, camping on the river, Queen’s Park and views at Buckley Falls. Native birds at Balyang Sanctuary and Barwon Valley adventure playground for the kids. There are many walks, parks, wetlands, golf courses, gardens and fishing platforms. Things to do in townships along the river includes.

Geelong is located 70 kilometres away from Melbourne with many shops, parks, piers, restaurants, cafes, and adventures. Some of the local attractions include the beautifully maintained Geelong botanic gardens. If you’re after a bit more excitement then Geelongs adventure park which has world-class rides and waterslides. Including the new Tsunami waterslide. There is Serendip Sanctuary closer to Lara which offers access to Australia’s wildlife and gardens. Geelong waterfront area is a vibrant spot full of piers and great for walking, picnics and eating.

Barwon Heads is 90 minutes drive from Melbourne. Surrounding townships include ocean grove and Queenscliff. This area is renowned for clean beaches which is very popular with holiday goes most school holidays. Swimming, paddle boarding, 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. 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. Or skydiving and scenic flight tours in surrounding townships.

Fishing the Barwon River

Barwon River Fishing Guide. The Barwon River is a diverse fishing ecosystem. We will break this up into 2 different sections the lower reaches around Geelong and beyond which have fresh water and the upper reaches closer to the mouth entrance which has estuary species.

Fishing the lower freshwater reaches of the Barwon river

The lower reaches provide great freshwater fishing with redfin and carp the most frequently caught species. You can also catch trout, eels, and tench. However, redfin is the most targeted fish in this area and sections of the Barwon hold them in good numbers and good sizes. These can be targeted with both bait and lures. Those fishing with lures have done this flicking along the banks or trolling in a small boat or kayak. We like using bright coloured soft plastics and shallow diving lures which stand out in the brownish water. Redfin in winter will hold the middle of the river in deeper areas and in summer hold against the reeds and shallows. Why not have a read on our detailed guide on the best lures to catch redfin. Good bait options include scrub worms, mudeye, crickets, yabbies and corn.

Huge carp are caught regularly in the Barwon river around Geelong. These can easily be targeted by fishing the banks and using corn, bread or worms as bait. We would suggest using heavier fishing gear due to the sheer size that some of the trout can grow to. If you would like to learn more about catching carp then please read our guide on mastering carp fishing.

Eels are a common catch particular when it’s dark. Some meet and worms on a small hook have been a sure way to catch a few of them.

Fishing the upper estuary reaches of the Barwon river

The upper reaches of the Barwon river around Ocean Grove and Barwon heads have a very high volume of yellow-eye mullet, salmon and whiting. Fishing along the jetties on river parade or sheep wash road you can catch countless of them using small hooks. You will also find trevally, flathead, gurnard, pinkies, bream.  The best baits include bass yabbies, scrub worms, pilchards, pipis, blue bait, and raw chicken. You will also have great success here flicking small and lightly weighted soft plastics and using scent sparingly to encourage bites.

Looking for some tips on how to catch whiting. Then watch our detailed Whiting Barwon River Fishing Guide guide below.

Rare trophy fish along these stretches will include Mulloway, Snapper and Elephant fish. They are significantly harder to catch, and often more active at night seasonally. They can be caught using larger baits such as whole pilchards and bigger soft plastics such as 5-inch jerk shads or swimbaits.

Barwon River Boat and kayak access

There are two ramps along the river the first is a ramp, at Ocean Grove accessible on Guthridge Street. The other is on the Barwon Heads side on River Parade accessed on Sheepwash Rd.

Recommended baits Barwon River

  • Scrub worms
  • Powerbait
  • Yabbies
  • Mudeye
  • maggots

Recommended lures Barwon River

Targeting Redfin at Barwon River

Redfin

We recommend targeting redfin with a light spin outfit. This will make the experience more enjoyable and improve your catch rates. A 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 2000, 2500 or 3000 reel spooled with 4-8-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader should be perfect.

Redfin respond really well to lures and soft plastics so do check our guide on the best lures for catching Redfin When using soft plastics, we highly recommend curl tails, minnow imitations, and paddle tails in both natural and bright colours. Rigged with a jig head that’s 1/8 through to 1/20 in weight. The most effective way to use these is to cast towards visible structure and slow roll the soft plastic with lifts and pauses for the retrieve.

Shallow diving hard body lures, blades and vibes are also very effective in this system. So are traditional spinners and Tassie devils in bright colours. Metal spoons also play a role allowing you to cast great distances and targeting the bigger size reddies. Just remember they are quite heavy and very prone to snags in small inland systems like this one.

Targeting Estuary Perch at Barwon River

Estuary Perch

Another highlight of fishing at Albert Park is targeting Estuary perch with surface and shallow diving lures. The action can be frantic on warm balmy evenings with low wind. listen for the sound of breaking water which indicates EPs are feeding. The excitement an angler gets from a EP smashing a surface lure on light gear is something that truly needs to be experienced. It almost catches you by surprise when that aggressive strike comes.

Small surface poppers, cicadas, blades, surface minnows and pencil lures work well here. So do shallow diving hardbody lures. Noteworthy options include bent minnows, Rapala countdown series, nories laydown minnows and shallow diving cranks. Basically, anything that doesn’t dive too deep and makes a good vibrating action will work well. You can use any colour choice we often start with silvers that mimic small baitfish or mullet.

EPs also respond incredibly well to a whole range of soft plastics lightly weighted. Including curl tails, paddle tails and minnow imitations. The trusty 2.5-inch grubs and minnows an excellent choice. These imitate small baitfish which the EPs are actively feeding on. We would recommend mixing up the retrieval speeds and pauses and playing around with different colours. Where possible fish along the structure and stay alert for signs such as breaking water.

Fishing for Estuary Perch requires finesse. We recommend an ultralight fishing combo consisting of a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo spin rod around 7 foot in length. Coupled with a 1000 or 2000 size reel spooled with 2-8 pound line and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. When bait fishing uses a 2-4 kilo rod around 7 foot in length. Coupled with a 2500 size reel either a float or small running sinker to a swivel and very fine leader.

Targeting Carp at Barwon River

Carp

There is a large volume of carp in local lakes however they are fun to catch and you can learn more about catching carp have a read of our detailed guide to carp fishing around Victoria. When targeting carp standard baits such as corn, bread, maggots work great for carp here. Using a simple running sinker rig with a pea-size sinker works great in this area. So, does suspending baits using a float. We have also fished well using unweighted baits. You can also target carp with hard body lures and soft plastics. This is a difficult technique that generally requires sight casting. Which means spotting a nearby carp and casting right in there are and working the lure of plastic slowly hoping they will strike. Its tough but very rewarding when you catch a carp using this method. Most however will stick to targeting them with bait.

For rod selection, a 3-5 kilo rod coupled with a 4000 size reel is very suitable. You could even fish a little heavier with rods designed for snapper that are generally 4-7 kilo 7 foot in length. For fun I have caught some monster size carp using 2-4 kilo rod and 6-pound braid. But I am prepared to lose some good fish in the process. We like to target carp on sundown particularity in the warmer months. This is often when you see carp swimming along the edges or jumping out of the water around September-November which is their spawning season. European carp must not be returned to the water. Always carry your Victorian fishing license.

A simple yet effective fishing rig here is to thread a small running sinker through the mainline shown in blue, which is usually around 8 pounds. Then tie a medium swivel to the end allowing the sinker to run up the mainline freely. Then tie on the other end of the swivel 50cm of 8-pound fluorocarbon leader (the leader is shown in grey ). Finished with a hook. I generally use a size 6 bait keeper hook or size 10 long shank which is perfect for corn kernels or scrub worms, however, you can also use small treble style hooks which is a better setup if you using bread.

Running sinker fishing rig

If your getting snagged up than you can also use a flot rig. Attach a quill or bubble float to your mainline. Thread the line through and adjust the length using a size 6 bait keeper hook or size 10 long shank keep your bait suspended at a good depth. Ideally cast down breeze which will stop the float from coming back to you. If you’re not getting bites then adjust the line depth and If necessary add a splint shot to add weight.

Float fishing rig

Barwon River Fishing hazards & Regulations

The Barwon river holds a large volume of snakes particularly tiger snakes so do take care in these areas. I have encountered these many times walking along the populated walking tracks, or along the river edge. There is a river health program in progress. Rock-ramp fishways have been installed at Baum’s Weir, Buckleys Falls, Lower breakwater, Pollocksford Weir and Ricketts Marsh gauge. Willow management, revegetation with native species and erosion control is also in progress.

Acknowledgements

Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All images and videos shown on the Barwon River Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.

Additions and corrections of this location

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