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. A scenic fishing destination around 3 hour’s drive from Melbourne the Hopkins River spans 271 kilometres. The entrance starts near Warrnambool which is a great spot for targeting salmon and bream and then stretches all the way to Ararat not far from the Grampians. The river descends over 300 meters and eventually passes the very scenic Hopkins Falls.


Workshops | Giveaways | Podcasts | Competitions | Reports | Maps | GPS Marks | Rigging Tutorials | Sounder School | Exclusive Footage | Tackle Talks | Gear Guides | Kayak Club | Much More

Become a FishingMad Member


Things to do at Hopkins River

Hopkins Falls is a scenic destination near the township of Allansford. The falls are 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 closes to townships such as Warnambool. Warrnambool 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 a vibrant town with cafes and restaurants. Nearby attractions include the Bay of Islands’ spectacular scenic formation the 12 Apostles of historic rocks, the Warrnambool botanic gardens, the Warnabmool art gallery, the Warnambool racetrack, and an amazing coastline full of fishing opportunities.

Watch this detailed video of FishingMad fishing the Hopkins River Warrnambool

Fishing the Hopkins River

The Hopkins River is a fantastic fishing destination with scenic views and a good variety of fish. The system, for the most part, is quite shallow, making it a great system for kayaks and small boats. There are also many scattered jetties along the river. At Hopkins River, you can catch ( see how to target each species below )

  • Bream
  • Estuary Perch
  • Mulloway
  • Trevally
  • Australian Salmon
  • Mullet
  • Bay Trout
  • Flathead

The Hopkins River can be a challenging fishing destination. The weather can play a big role here as the wind and currents can be punishing. Especially if you are fishing near the entrance towards the surf. There are many areas in which you can launch a kayak or boat. We have spent many hours fishing near the bridge opposite the surf, and further upstream along the steep banks.

The most targeted species on the Hopkins River is bream and there is plenty of them. Some excellent sizes ones with 40-plus cm bream are a common catch. Bream in this system love to reside in the shallow edges amongst any visible structure. The most popular form of catching bream in the Hopkins River is with lures and soft plastics. The key to having success when fishing the Hopkins River is to target structure. This will be in the form of submerged trees along the banks, bridge pylons, jetties, and rocks along the banks. Working surface lures, shallow diving lures, or lightly weighted soft plastics in these areas. With the jig head weight from 1/16 through to 1/40th. It’s a high-risk high reward for fishing.

When flicking lures and plastics you will need an ultralight spinning outfit. Generally, this will be a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo spin rod around 7 feet in length. Coupled with a 1000, 2000, or 2500 size reel spooled with a 4-6 pound braid and finished with a 2 or 6 lb fluorocarbon leader. There is a massive volume of rods and reels on the market. So make sure you pick something that matches your budget and skill level.

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.


Recommended lures and soft plastics fishing Hopkins River

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.

  • Cranka crabs
  • Zman slim Swimz
  • Keitech Mad Wags
  • Berkley powerbait grub
  • OSP bent minnows
  • Jackall Chubby
  • Damiki Monster Miki 2.5 sp
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5-inch grub
  • Zman GrubZ
  • Squidge wrigglers
  • eco gear ZX40
  • Daiwa Double Clutch
  • EcoGear SX40
  • Squidges biotough grub
  • Nories laydown minnow
  • StrikePro cyber vibe
  • Pro lure live Yabby

Recommended baits fishing Hopkins River

Bait Choices

If you plan on fishing with baits then 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.

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

Watch the video below to see how we catch bream with simple baits

Targeting Bream at Hopkins River


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 you targeting bream with bait then 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 a 6-pound line. We would encourage you to read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.


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 are 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 feet in length. Coupled with a 1000 or 2000 size reel spooled with a 2-8 pound line and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. When bait fishing uses a 2-4 kilo rod around 7 feet in length. Coupled with a 2500 size reel either a float or small running sinker to a swivel and very fine leader.

Targeting Mulloway at Hopkins River

Mulloway AKA Jewfish are a prized catch that sits on the top of many Victorian angler’s bucket lists. A stunning fish with a large mouth and distinctive silver or bronze color. 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 the legal size. A good Mulloway outfit here will consist of a 2-5 kg, 3-6 kg, or 4-8 kg rod paired with a 2500, 3000, or 4000 size reel. Great soft plastics choices include 4-inch paddle tails, 5 & 7-inch jerk shads, and worm imitations. They will also happily take smaller soft plastics like 2.5-inch grubs and paddle tails whilst targeting bream. Mulloway also will take shallow and mid-diving hard body lures, blades, and swimbaits which are designed to imitate a fish in its surroundings such as a mullet. 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.

Mulloway resides near river mouth entrances. They are often caught near structures such as bridges and pylons. Try to present your baits and lures as naturally as possible or use live baits. Mulloway can be caught at any time of the day, but are most active at night, during peak tides and moon phases. We have found that lures are quite productive during the day and bait is more productive at night.

Targeting Flathead at Hopkins River

We encourage you to read our detailed guide on How to catch Flathead. Flathead is a year-round prospect that can be caught at any time of the day. They are an ambush predator that waits in disguise for smaller fish to swim by for 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 out 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 you targeting flathead with bait, we recommend using a paternoster rig or running sinker rig. Use a small ball sinker to swivel, then 50cm of 8-12 leader to a size 6 long shank hook. Good bait choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait, and prawns.

Targeting Salmon at Hopkins River


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 its weight. When hooked they produce strong bursts of speed, powerful runs, and vigorous head shakes. Do keep an eye out for gutters which are patches of deeper water that Salmon will swim through in schools. These can be identified by the darker colour of the water. When bait fishing pick a surf rod between 12-15 feet 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 classes. 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



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.

Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All images and videos shown on the Hopkins River Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals. Thank you for visiting the Hopkins River Fishing Guide. If you feel this location guide is missing any key information or needs any corrections made, then please let us know by emailing our team at enquiries@fishingmad.com.au with specific details in the email. Thank you