Welcome to the Cunningham Pier Fishing Guide. Cunningham Pier is an iconic structure within the township of Geelong built in the 1850s. The pier can be seen from miles away as it stretches way out into Port Phillip Bay. It looks quite spectacular at night time all lit up. The pier was originally built as a necessary port for transporting cargo which is now handled from Corio Quay. Today its mainly used a great fishing destination for local anglers who can fish relatively deep waters whilst land-based fishing. The pier is just under 350 meters long and in recent times has been surrounded by restaurants, and walking trails. Seasonally it fishes very well for snapper, whiting, trevally & flathead. This is considered an all year round fishing destination only 1 hour from Melbourne.
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Things to do at Cunningham Pier, Geelong
Geelong is a massive township located 70 kilometres away from Melbourne with many shops, parks, piers, restaurants, cafes, and adventures. The town is home to roughly 75,000 residents making it a large township within Victoria. Some of the local attractions include the beautifully maintained Geelong botanic gardens. Which offers amazing landscaped gardens for the whole family to enjoy. 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. There is also Serendip Sanctuary is not far by closer to Lara which offers free access to Australia’s wildlife and gardens. The Geelong waterfront area is a lovely vibrant spot full of piers and great for walking, picnics and eating. There are also several local breweries, markets and art exhibitions.
Fishing at Cunningham Pier, Geelong
Cunningham pier, you can catch flathead, snapper, King George whiting, Australian salmon, leather jackets, snook, silver trevally, mullet, snot nose trevally, garfish and bream. A whole range of methods can work well during different stages of the year. A wise strategy is to have a target species in mind when fishing here this will help greatly with tackle selection and rigging up. Example your setup fro targeting flathead and pinkies will be very different from targeting salmon or garfish. Click here to read our guide on how to catch snapper around Geelong.
Baits which work well in the area will include pilchards, blue bait, yabbies, chicken, pippis, squid & sandworms. When bait fishing simply rigs such as a basic running sinker with a 6/0 long shank or Paternoster rig works well. A paternoster rig will allow you to change sinker size to suit your desired casting distance. A technique that has proven to work well here is unweighted strips of pilchard hard up against the pier pylons which is a great way to target trevally and pinkies. We also enjoy fishing this pier with soft plastics, blades and mid diving hard body lures. This will work well pinkies, flathead, bream, mullet and trevally.
We generally like to use an all-round rod setup which will allow us to target multiple species. A 2–5-kilo class rod capacity, with a 3000 size reel spooled with 10-pound braid and equivalent leader. For small species such as garfish, leather jackets and whiting, you will want to use an ultralight fishing combo. Ideally a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod with a 1000, 2000 or 2500 size reel spooled with light line. Then using small long shank hooks and small baits as these fish have quite small mouths. Good baits for these species include small pieces of pilchard, prawns, silverfish and maggots. These can be either suspended from a float or a light running sinker rig.
There is a decent distance between the water and the pier so it might be wise to take a long net or gaff to help you land better size fish.
I prefer fishing most spots around Geelong in the early morning. High tide usually sees a big run of pinkies in summer, and low tide generally produces a healthy amount of flathead. Cunningham pier is areat land-based fishing at night time. The pier is lit up at night and a great place to target pinkies, snapper, whiting, trevally during these times. However many pest species come out at night such as sand eels, scorpionfish and stingrays.
Baits Cunningham Pier Geelong
- silver whiting
- raw chicken strips
Lures and soft plastics for Cunningham Pier Geelong
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Zman slim Swimz
- Daiwa Baitjunkie 5 inch jerk shads
- Berkley gulp turtleback worm
- Savage Gear Fat Curl tails
- Daiwa Bautjunkie 4 inch grubs
- 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
Targeting Flathead at Cunningham Pier Geelong
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.
Targeting Snapper at Cunningham Pier Geelong
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 Whiting at Cunningham Pier Geelong
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 Salmon at Cunningham Pier Geelong
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 garfish at Cunningham Pier
Garfish or mini marlins are a fun local fish species to target. Generally caught between 20cm and 40 cm with no minimum legal-size limit but a daily bag limit of 40.
Garfish have large snout but very small mouth so the key to catching them is to use very small size hooks. Small long shanks between size 10 and size 14 are ideal choices. The preferred rig setup should consist of using a pencil or quill float, then having a small split shot roughly 20cm above the hooks to keep the bait down. the floats will help suspend baits such as glacies, maggots or small pieces of fish flesh. berleying is a very important tool when targeting garfish, You can purchase premade berley pellets or powder from your local tackle shop or make your own use tuna oil, chook pellets and bread.
Catching gars is all about finesse and an ultralight 1-3 or 2-4 kilo nibble tip rod that’s 7 to 9 foot in length Paired with a 1000, 2000 or 25000 size reel spooled with 4-6 lb line will be a great choice.
Targeting Snook at Cunningham Pier Geelong
These toothy critters are fun to catch on light spinning gear. You will find them in shallow weedy waters often a bycatch for those targeting snapper, whiting and flathead. You can catch snook with staple baits such as pilchard, prawn, and squid. However, Snook loves natural-looking soft plastics retrieved at medium pace including minnows, paddle tails, and grubs. Add scent to the soft plastics really seems to help. Snook also respond well to shallow and mid diving hard body lures in shiny colours retrieved at a medium pace. Metal slugs and blades trolled slowly also work very well.
Do handle snook with care as they have razor-sharp teeth. Despite their sharp teeth it’s still best to target them with light gear that you would generally use for pinkies and flathead. We recommend a 2-4 or 3-5 kilo spin rod paired with a 2500 size reel, spooled with 8-12 pound line and leader. Check out this video of a crazy snook session when kayak fishing.
Targeting Trevally at Cunningham Pier Geelong
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 mullet at Cunningham Pier Geelong
This is a great location to mullet a bread and butter species which school up in big numbers. They are fun to catch on light spinning gear and a great fish species to introduce beginners into fishing. Mullet respond well to berley, so berley an isolated area with a mix of bread, tuna oil and chook pellets.
Good baits include bread, dough, live maggots, pilchard, and prawn. remember that Mullet have small mouths so remember to cut these baits up into small pieces. You can also use soft plastics small minnow and grub style soft plastic with a slow constant retrieve. Scents such as S-Factor or Procure certainly helps.
Most mullet are quite small therefore a 7-foot rod in a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo class, paired with a 1000, 2000 or 2500 reel spooled with 2-6-pound braid and equivalent leader. Here are some helpful tips on catching Mullet with soft plastics.
Known hazards at Cunningham pier
Always be careful with young kids when fishing on piers. Ensure there supervised and staying away from anglers casting. I have caught a couple of sea snakes from cunningham pier, and some nasty gurnards which have poisonous spikes. Flathead is very common here so be careful of the spines behind the back of there heads which can cause lots of bleeding.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All images and videos shown on the Cunningham Pier Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
Additions and corrections of this location
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