Welcome to the Portarlington Pier Fishing Guide. Portarlington is a popular township 30 kilometres past Geelong roughly 80 kilometres or 70 minutes away from Melbourne. It’s a very popular holiday destination with clean beaches and a good mix of accommodation. The Portarlington Jetty is located off Pier Street. The pier consistently produces a wide variety of fish both day and night which is great for anglers of all different abilities. Many visitors travel up a little further to Portsea to catch the ferry between Portsea and Queenscliff.
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Things to do at Portarlington
Portarlington is a vibrant town full of cafes, bakeries, golf, and shops. Beach views and ferry rides overlooking the Bellarine Peninsula and entrance of Port Phillip Bay. Portarlington is the home to good local produce such as mussels and wine with many vineyards just beyond the town’s doorstep. Nearby attractions in Portarlington include the historical mil or the nearby miniature railway for kids.
The closest main township from Portarlington is Geelong 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 than Geelong adventure park which has world-class rides and waterslides. Including the new Tsunami waterslide. There is also Serendip Sanctuary is not far 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. Prior to Geelong, you can also visit the You Yangs.
Fishing at Portarlington Pier
There are many different species of fish that you can target at Portarlington Pier and they all require quite different setups. One moment local anglers are targeting snapper, then squid or garfish and at times flicking metal lures for salmon. It’s a real mixed bag here and you need to be prepared for different species. However, the pier does consistently produce a wide variety of fish both day and night which Is good for anglers of all different abilities.
The pier will receive another major upgrade after a $9.6 million dollar package was approved in 2020 to install a new covered walkway for ferry passengers, a new pier head and an improved accessible low landing. The deck will be widened between the shore and the low landing, while sections of the outer arm and berthing area will be reconstructed. Recent upgrades were only completed in 2017 already making it a popular fishing, boating and diving spot. It’s also home to 20 of the Port Phillip to Docklands ferries. The old Portarlington pier, which closed in 2018, will be demolished.
Portarlington is a great spot for kayak fishing and why not when you can catch spectacular snapper like this
At the pier you can catch
- gummy shark
- silver trevally
The pier passes plenty of weed beds making a good ecosystem for squid, gars and whiting. You can learn more about targeting squid here by reading our detailed guide on How to catch squid. We have done well here on dawn and dusk using red, black and white coloured squid jigs and working them slowly with occasional erratic lifts. If you are chasing squid then a light fishing rod between 7.5 feet and 9 feet in length is ideal paired with a 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with 10 to 15-pound braid and equivalent leader. There are plenty of egi rods on the market fit for purpose. For other fishing in this area, a general-purpose medium fishing outfit is ideal. This will allow you to cover a whole range of fish species. Perhaps starting with a 7 foot or 8-foot rod paired with a 3000 or 4000 reel spooled with 10-15-pound lines.
Baits Portarlington Pier
- silver whiting
- blue bait
- raw chicken strips
Lures and soft plastics for Portarlington Pier
- Squid jigs
- metal lures
- Berkley gulp turtleback worm
- Daiwa Bait Junkie 2.5 inch grub
- Daiwa Baitjunkie 5 inch jerk shads
- Savage Gear Fat Curl tails
- Daiwa Bautjunkie 4 inch grubs
- Zman slim Swimz
- Berkley powerbait grub
- Gulp 3-inch minnow
- Daiwa 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 Snapper at Portarlington Pier
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 are 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 garfish at Portarlington 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 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, 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 Gummy Shark at Portarlington Pier
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 Squid at Portarlington Pier
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 Salmon at Portarlington Pier
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
Targeting Whiting at Portarlington Pier
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 everything you need to know to catch whiting.
Targeting Flathead at Portarlington Pier
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 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.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Portarlington Pier Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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