Welcome to the Port Fairy Fishing Guide. Port Fairy is a coastal fishing township located on Victoria’s far southwest coast at the end of the Great Ocean Road. Roughly 3 1/2 hours drive from Melbourne between Portland and Warrnambool. Port Fairy is a unique setting with historic buildings still remaining from its days as a port back in 1800.
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Port Fairy is built around the Moyne River. Along here is Fishermans Wharf which has rows of boats that can be seen from the footbridge. The Moyne River is the entrance out to the Bass Straight and an exceptional world-class fishing destination for Tuna. With waters over 10000 meters deep Port Fairy gets its real reputation as a fishing hot spot for its Tuna fishing throughout the winter months. It also offers other great game fishing and a large range of species such as Kingfish Snapper and many other species. Its an also a popular destination for tourists with annual whale and sea watching. It’s also a great spot to head out with a fishing charter that has all the gear ready to chase a big Tuna or stick to the jetties for bread and butter species.
Things to do at Port Fairy
Much accommodation is available including the Port Fairy Big 4 family accommodation. Port Fairy has many boutique shops scattered throughout the town. It hosts the Port Fairy Folk Festival, a large music festival held annually around March. Or enjoy the relaxed pace and local produce with fine food and wine of the many great pubs, cafes and restaurants. The town is full of history and has many centres and walks suited for history buffs. You can also head out to Griffiths Island which is home to a large colony of mutton birds, while at the eastern end of the island is the Port Fairy Lighthouse.
Port Fairy has three main beach areas along Ocean Drive and pockets of sandy beaches parallel to the Moyne River via Beach Street. Whilst there you can visit the Port Fairy Botanic Gardens. Or venture out on a boat and do some whale and seal watching. Take a tour to Lady Julia Percy Island which is home to thousands of seals and quite a remarkable sight.
Of course, Portland is the place to go fishing. Carefully take your own boat or jump on one of many charter operators. The deep open seas aren’t for everyone and perhaps not suitable for young children so there are plenty of spots along the piers, jetties and nearby estuaries that would be suitable.
Fishing Port Fairy
Port Fairy is one of the busiest ports in all of Victoria. Make no mistake Port Fairy is the destination to target Tuna, you can also target Kingfish, Mako Shark, Thresher Shark, School Shark, Bronze Whaler sharks, Whiting, Flathead, Snapper, Salmon, Mulloway. The offshore fishing at Port Fairy is getting better every year. Anglers from far and wide come to Port Fairy to land a barrel bluefin tuna which migrate here in winter annually. Seeing some impressive Tuna caught up to 150kg trolling skirts or hard body minnows. Another fun way to target Tuna in recent years is flicking stick bait and surface poppers using spin gear such as a 6000 reel spooled with 50lb braid. The productive Tuna grounds around 50m deep are also home to large gummy sharks, Mako sharks and snapper. Here you should target them with baits such as squid, pilchard and mackerel on a snell or paternoster rig.
Tuna season typically starts in March and finishes around July. With Tuna coming inshore during winter meaning you don’t need to venture out beyond the continental shelf to find them. Good ways to find tuna include watching your sounder for large bait balls, drop-offs and reefs. However, the biggest indicators are often breaking water and large congregations of birds that are diving into the water.
The number one method of targeting tuna is trolling skirts behind the boat waiting for a decent hookup. Usually travelling speeds of 5-10 knots and using downriggers as a way of controlling the depth that you keep your skirts at. When targeting the big barrels of Tuna you will be using expensive shiny game rods and reels with a heavy line. If you are after some fun and want to chase some smaller school sized schoolies tuna then you can do so with a 10-20 kilo rod and a 600 size reel spooled with braid between 20-40 kilo. This is an amazingly fun way to catch Tuna and you can mix up your tackle by opting for hardbody lures such as Rapala X-Raps, large vibes and large soft plastics.
This form of fishing isn’t for everyone and you need to be honest with yourself before venturing out into open seas like Portland to understand if you suffer from seasickness or motion sickness. Targeting Tuna means venturing out into open seas and trolling for many hours in deep waters with large swells. Swells that are very different from sheltered systems such as Port Phillip Bay. Safety when fishing these areas is paramount and not to be taken lightly take all the necessary safety precautions before venturing out. Winter is the best time of year to chase Tuna as that’s when there active. this is often the time of year when you will see the range of charters and traffic in full swing. Bird activity is often a great indication of a hungry pack of Tuna which are surfacing and on the bite.
Fishing from the beach can also be productive at Port Fairy with Mulloway, snapper, bream, whiting and salmon caught on East Beach, Killarney, Yambuck and behind the golf course. It’s a good idea to look for gutters which are given away by a colour change and berley and cast into the gutters, which is where the deeper water is. Around Killarney is productive grounds to target whiting and squid. Port Fairy, however, offers great fishing all year round. Seasonally you can target Mulloway and flathead in spring, Snapper and Kingfish in summer and Tuna in winter.
At Port Fairy, you can catch
- Mako and Gummy Sharks
- Tommy Ruff
- Bream ( Moyne River )
- Mullet ( Moyne River )
- estuary perch ( Moyne River )
Port Fairy Fishing Charters
Targeting Tuna is a very specialised recreational activity that requires expertise, a specific boat and fishing tackle and an understanding of the conditions. For many, the best way to experience this is by going out on a fishing charter. Known charters who operate in this area include.
- Salty dog fishing
- Magnet fishing charters
- Southern Coast Charters
- Matt Cini fishing charters
- Matt Hunts fishing charters
- Game on charters
- Bag out tuna fishing charters
- Red hot fishing charters
- Proline charters
- Unreel fishing charters
If we’re missing any charter operators that you would recommend then do let us know and we will add it to our list.
Targeting Tuna at Port Fairy
Tuna is a remarkable fish species with a worldwide reputation for speed, size power and taste. Genuine missiles of the ocean and for many a bucket list fish. Tuna have remarkable fighting qualities and unparalleled eating qualities. Tuna fishing hits its peak in the colder months. Locally we have bluefin, yellowfin, & albacore all of which grow to massive sizes. Good ways to find tuna include watching your sounder for large bait balls, drop-offs and reefs. However, the biggest indicators are often breaking water and large congregations of birds that are diving into the water.
Targeting barrels requires specialised equipment consisting of big game rods, expensive game reels and heavy lines. These are often trolled with the aid of downriggers. For many, the best way to experience this is through a specialised tuna charter operator. If you are targeting schoolies, then you can do this by using 10-15 or 10-24 kilo spin rod and a 5000-20000 size reel spooled with 30-50 pound braid. This can be a fun form of fishing.
Targeting Kingfish at Port Fairy
Kingfish are unparalleled sports fish that possess immense power. Kingies can grow over a meter in length, have amazing fighting qualities, generally school up in big numbers, are also a renowned table fish and are a very welcome bycatch for those who may have been out in deeper waters targeting species such as Tuna. A heavy-duty setup is required starting with a 10-15 kilo rod paired with a 6000-20000 size reel. Some good options include the Penn Slammer, Shimano Saragosa, Daiwa Saltist, Daiwa Saltiga or Shimano Stella spooled with 20 to 50-pound line.
Good bait options include squid, pilchard, and garfish. Or live baits such as yakka’s, squid, and mackerel. From the boat, vertical jigging metal lures is one of the most successful techniques. You can also target them with large soft plastics. Kingies are generally active between December through to March and can be located during most hours of the day. Kingfish love swimming and patrolling along structures such as rock walls, so it pays to keep your lure or jig close to the structure.
Targeting Mulloway at Port Fairy
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 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 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.
Targeting Snapper at Port Fairy
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 Gummy Shark at Port Fairy
We would recommend targeting gummy sharks with a 7 foot 8-15 kilo rod paired with a 4000 to 6000 size reel spooled with 20 to 40 pound line. Finished with a strong leader ranging from 40lb through to 60 pounds. Ideal rigs include a running sinker rig to single or double snelled rig or a paternoster rig. You can use an Ezi rig attaching a sinker to the clip and then tying on a pre-made double snelled rig. Octopus or circle hooks from 5/0 to 7/0 are preferred for presenting chunks of salmon, trevally, squid, mackerel, Eel, mullet, pilchard, yakka’s, & garfish.
Targeting Flathead at Port Fairy
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 by 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 you are 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 baits choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait and prawns.
Targeting Squid at Port Fairy
Squid is a frequent catch on the pier towards the front and mid parts of the pier. Just look for the squid ink which is a great indicator of where to target them. Anglers do well-suspending squid jigs with the use of a float. Targeting squid is a fun form of fishing growing in popularity with the reward of fresh calamari. Squid can be caught all year round, you will find them in shallow weedy areas and they respond well to jigs in clear water conditions. We recommend reading our detailed guide on How to catch squid around Melbourne. An egi rod between 7.5 foot and 9 foot in length is ideal and there are plenty of egi rods on the market fit for purpose. We recommend an 8 foot 3-inch rod paired with a 3000 size reel spooled with 15-pound braid. Squid jigs are prone to snags in this area, and we have found using slow sinking jigs in the smaller size of 2.5 and 3.0-gram jigs will help avoid this problem. Cast your squid jig to allow time for the jig to sink then do a series of lifts and pauses to imitate a wounded prawn. The natural temptation is to strike Instead, a subtle lift to keep line tension and constant slow reel is all that’s required.
Check out this video a master class on Kayak fishing for squid
Targeting Whiting at Port Fairy
Whiting is a bread and butter species which are fun to catch on light spinning gear and tastes great. They 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 everything you need to know to catch whiting.
Targeting Salmon at Port Fairy
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 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 you are 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
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. Header pdh.net.au All other images and videos shown on the Portland Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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