Welcome to the Patterson River Fishing Guide. The Patterson River AKA the Patto River is a popular fishing destination located 1-hour drive from Melbourne in the southern suburbs near Carrum. This partly man-made river was constructed in the 1870s and is quite small spanning roughly 5 kilometers in length. The Patterson River is a very popular boat launching area and the gateway into Port Phillip Bay for those fishing around Frankston and Carrum. There are many launching areas and jetties which provide good access and structure when fishing. Its true delight is its great bream fishing for land-based. Bream love this estuary and there is plenty of structure. We see many bream fishing videos and reports generated from this location but there are also the allusive mulloway, flathead, and mullet in good numbers.


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Things to do at Patterson River

The Patterson River is located near Frankston and a little further on is the Mornington Peninsula. The entrance of Patterson River is one of the busiest boat ramps in Victoria. Boats are frequently coming in and out many heading into Port Phillip Bay to target species such as snapper, squid, flathead, and more. However many will choose to land base fish or take a boat or kayak up the river entrance to target species such as bream, mulloway, salmon and mullet. This is a nice spot to take the kids with plenty of fishing spots with surrounding parks and BBQ facilities. There are also great amenities such as fish cleaning stations, toilets, jetties, and multiple launching areas. There are also walking and cycling trails, cafes, bird watching and boating charters. Nearby are family-friendly beaches, the famous sand sculptures, an arts center, botanic gardens, and parks. 

Fishing at Patterson River

The Patterson River is a diverse fishing destination with many species that can be targeted including

  • Bream
  • Mulloway
  • Australian Salmon
  • Yellow Eye Mullet
  • Flathead
  • Flounder
  • Garfish
  • Snapper
  • Trevally
  • Estuary perch

When planning your fishing trip on the Patterson river it really is a good idea to have a target species and technique in mind. As the locations along the river and setups are very different depending on what species you’re targeting. For example, garfish, salmon, and pinkies like to hold near the entrance whereas bream, mullet, and Mulloway can be found further up the river near and beyond the ramps and gates. Patterson River has very high boat traffic being one of the most popular boat ramps in Victoria so it’s a good suggestion to move away from the heavy traffic near the boat ramp facilities and find a quieter area.

Fish here can be caught any time of day, although they often get a little more aggressive at sunrise and sundown. The river entrance is very tidal so it’s a good idea to check the tides before fishing here and ideally fishing 90 minutes each side of a tide change.

Picking the right gear again depends on the species your target species. Light spinning combos will work great for your smaller species like garfish, mullet, bream, and estuary perch where you will need to go significantly heavier if you target mulloway and snapper. Bream is one of the most popular species targeted on the Patterson River. Targeting the structure and jetties as that’s where you are likely to find the fish residing for cover. This is a great location for fishing with lures and soft plastics. We highly recommend using an ultralight spin rod. Starting with a 1–3 or 2-4 kilo capacity rod coupled with a 1000, 2000, or 2500 size reel. The reel should be spooled with a light line 4 to 6-pound braid finished with a rod length of 4-pound leader would be our preference. This would make a great and sensitive outfit to feel the bites and inquiries of timid bream and mullet. We enjoy fishing in this area with shallow diving hard body lures and soft plastics. Especially in the warmer months when bream are sitting on the edges.

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.

You may also consider using surface lures such as small poppers or cicadas to target estuary perch. You can target them using the same gear that you would target bream. Surface fishing is an exciting way to fish it just needs some patience and finesse but the rewards can be high. This works best on warm summer nights that are generally calm with low water flow. Targeting weed beds and reefs trying to entice them out and engage their predatory instinctive reactions.

If you plan to fish with bait then yabbies, scrub worms, prawns, sandworms, maggots, pilchards, mussels, & chicken are good options. If your targeting mullet and garfish then small hooks suspended under a pencil float off the rocks will work great. Also, use berley to bring the fish in and keep them around and biting. When bait fishing a 2-4 kilo rod with a 2500 size reel spooled with 6-pound line would make a suitable choice. Have a read of our detailed guide on how to catch bream with bait. We have found using a running sinker rig is the preferred setup.

Throughout the cooler months, large schools of salmon make their way up and down the river. During these times casting small metal lures of around 20 grams in weight from the rock wall can be a lot of fun. This seems to be more frequent during choppy conditions as the salmon head deeper into the river to seek cover. Also, squid at times can be found close to the river entrance. Around the highway bridge, there are some shallow reefs where squid can be caught using lightly weighted squid jigs around 2.0 and 2.5 grams. No doubt the most prized catch in the river is the elusive mulloway. You will certainly need to change your style of fishing if you plan to specifically target them. They will require heavier fishing rod outfits, live baits, strips of fresh bait or larger soft plastics, or swimbaits.

Recommended baits Patterson River

At this location, we would highly recommend the baits suggested below. There are several ways to present baits including a running sinker rig, paternoster rig, or dropper rig. The rig and sinker choice will be dependent on the species you are targeting and the conditions such as wind and tidal strength.

Bait Choices

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

Recommended lures and soft plastics Patterson River

Soft Plastics

  • Berkley Turtleback worms
  • Zman 3 inch minnows
  • Munroes 2.75 and 3.75 inch paddletails
  • Cranka crabs
  • Zman slim Swimz
  • Berkley powerbait grub
  • Damiki Monster Miki 2.5 sp
  • Jackall Chubby
  • Savage Gear Fathead Crank
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
  • Gulp 3-inch minnow
  • Daiwa Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
  • 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
  • OSP bent minnows

Check out this instructional video guide on how to catch snapper with soft plastics filmed locally in Port Phillip Bay

Targeting Bream at Patterson 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 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 are 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 6-pound line. We would encourage you to read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.


Targeting Mulloway at Patterson 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. 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 surroundings 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 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 the 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 garfish at Patterson River


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 snouts but very small mouths 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, and 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 Salmon at Patterson River


Salmon are powerful sports fish that school up in big numbers. They punch well above their weight and when hooked produce strong bursts of speed, powerful runs, and vigorous head shakes. Keep an eye for gutters which are patches of deeper water that Salmon will swim through in schools. These can be identified by the darker color of the water. Salmon will happily take a range of soft plastics, lures, and baits. Including 3 and 4-inch soft plastics and long-casting metal spoons. You can target them with light spinning gear such as a 2-4 kilo rod and 2500-size reel. However, if you are targeting them land-based on the beach or surf then you will likely jump up to a 5-10 kilo rod that’s between 9-12 feet in length paired with a 3000-size reel spooled with 15-pound braid.

Check out this instructional video guide on how to catch salmon on soft plastics. Crazy action in this one.

Targeting Estuary Perch at Patterson 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 that 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 with 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 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 Flathead at Patterson River

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 are 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 bait choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait, and prawns.

Targeting Snapper at Patterson River


Locally Snapper season starts around October and finishes towards April. The big reds migrate inshore due to the warmer water temperatures which provide ideal spawning conditions. Dawn, Dusk and tide changes are considered the best times to catch snapper. Snapper will take a variety of baits and soft plastics. For bait a 7 to 8 foot rod with a 4-7 kg rating paired with a 4000 or 5000 size reel spooled with 15-30 pound line is great. Good bait options include pilchards, silver whiting, squid, and salmon. When it comes to soft plastics, a 7 foot 3-6 kilo rod paired with a 3000 size reel great. Good soft plastics include jerk shads, whip baits, curl tails or paddle tails between 3 and 5 inches in a variety of colours. We encourage you to read our detailed guide on how to catch snapper.

Targeting Mullet at Patterson River

Poddy Mullet

This is a great location to mullet a bread and butter species that school up in big numbers. They are fun to catch on light spinning gear and a great fish species to introduce beginners to fishing. Mullet respond well to berley, so berley is an isolated area with a mix of bread, tuna oil, and chook pellets. Good baits include bread, dough, live maggots, pilchard, and prawns. 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 is 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.


Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Patterson River Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals. Thanks for reading our Patterson River Fishing Guide. If you feel this location guide is missing 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. Please also feel free to share any fishing pictures you have from this location with us. Thank you A large amount of boat traffic to be cautious of. All rural areas are inhabited by wildlife such as Snakes and Lizards, so be wary of venomous snakes such as Brown, Tiger and Red-bellied Black.