Welcome to the Hopkins River Fishing Guide. The Hopkins River is a popular fishing destination well known for its quality year-round bream and estuary perch fishing. Located around 3 hours drive from Melbourne the Hopkins river spans 271 kilometres. The entrance starting near Warrnambool which is a great spot for targeting salmon and bream and then stretches all the way to Arrarat not far from the Grampians. The river descends over 300 metres and eventually passes the very scenic Hopkins falls.

Things to do at Hopkins River

Hopkins falls is a scenic destination near the township of Allansford. The falls is 90 meters wide and 12 meters straight down over basalt rocks. This is a great location for some scenic photos and walking. The Hopkins River is close to premier fishing destinations such as Port Fairy and close to townships such as Warnambool. Warnambool is a great place to take the family for a weekend away. In winter a highlight is whale watching and all year round you can enjoy clean beaches, swimming, good accommodation, scenic views and vibrant town with cafes and restaurants.

Nearby attractions include the bay of islands spectacular scenic formation the 12 apostles historic rocks, Warnambool botanic gardens, Warnabmool art gallery, Warnambool racetrack and amazing coastline full of fishing opportunities.

Fishing the Hopkins River

At Hopkins River, you can target bream, estuary perch, flathead, mullet, salmon and mulloway. The most popular form of catching bream in the Hopkins river is with lures and soft plastics. The choice of lures when targeting bream is almost endless. Do make sure you read our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Some recommended options would include Cranka Crabs, shallow diving crank lures, small paddle tail soft plastics, small curl tail soft plastics, minnow imitations, vibes and blades. It’s also a great spot for surface lures which can be one of the most fun forms of fishing with light gear.

The choice of lures is almost endless to make things easier we created a detailed video on the best lures and how to use them.

When flicking lures and plastics you will need an ultralight spinning outfit. This would start with a light rod around 7 foot in length either a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo class. There are so many great options to choose from in this range which can be quite confusing for beginners. When choosing a reel make sure you pick a 1000, 2040 or 2500 size is best, spooled with 4-6 pound braid and finished with a 2 or 4-pound leader. Again the range of reels on the market is amazing and the budgets vary greatly depending on your skill level and spending habits.

If you plan on fishing with baits than we would highly recommend using Sandworms, maggots, scrub worms, pilchards, mussels, yabbies, & chicken. For bait fishing again a light rod setup is best. A 2-4 kilo class rod with a 2500 size reel would be a great option spooled with 6-pound line. Beginners can go a little heavier with a 3-5 kilo rod. We would encourage you to watch our video below on how to catch bream with bait or read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.

Recommended baits Hopkins river

  • yabbies
  • Scrub worms
  • sandworms
  • maggots
  • mussels
  • pilchards
  • prawns

Recommended lures and soft plastics Hopkins river

Targeting Bream at Hopkins river

Bream

This is a great location to target bream with lures and soft plastics. The options available are almost endless so make sure you read our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Recommended options include crab imitation, shallow diving cranks, paddle tail soft plastics, curl tail soft plastics, minnow imitations, vibes, and blades. Also, try your luck with surface lures which is an exciting form of fishing with light gear.

Bream is all about finesse fishing so you will need an ultralight spin outfit. We recommend 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. There are so many amazing bream outfits on the market and budgets vary greatly depending on your skill level and spending habits.

Bream reside within the structure such as jetty pylons and stumps. Enticing them away from the structure onto your lure will take some time to master. Remember to work your lures and plastics slowly and mix up the retrieval techniques.

If your targeting bream with bait than we would highly recommend sandworms, maggots, scrub worms, mussels, yabbies, & chicken. A 2-4 kilo class rod paired with a 2500 size reel would be a great option spooled with 6-pound line. We would encourage you to read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.

Again the options here are almost endless.

Targeting Estuary Perch at Hopkins river

Estuary Perch

Another highlight of fishing in this area 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 an 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 Flathead at Hopkins river

Flathead

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 mullet at Hopkins river

Mullet

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.

Targeting Salmon at Hopkins river

Salmon

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 Hopkins river

Mulloway

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.

Any time of day, though some fish will be more active at Dawn and Dusk. Always be careful when the river entrance opens. During this time the tidal flow can be very strong and quite dangerous. Like all rural areas always take notice of areas that might hold snakes.

Acknowledgements

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

Additions or Corrections for this location

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