Welcome to the Portarlington Pier Rockwall Fishing Guide. Portarlington pier is a fantastic fishing destination the pier extends out to a Rockwall providing lots of land-based fishing opportunities. Locally Portarlington is a popular township only 30 kilometers past Geelong roughly 70 minutes drive from Melbourne. It’s a popular holiday destination with clean beaches and a good mix of accommodations. The Portarlington Pier is located off Pier Street. The pier consistently produces a wide variety of species 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

The Portarlington pier and breakwater has a daily ferry that runs back and forth from the Docklands Melbourne to Portarlington. This 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 kilometers 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

At Portarlington pier Rockwall, you can target a wide variety of species. It’s important when fishing here to have a target species in mind as your gear choices and rig setups will be significantly different.

  • snapper
  • garfish
  • gummy shark
  • salmon
  • squid
  • whiting
  • silver trevally
  • flathead

There are many different species of fish that you can target at Portarlington Pier and they all require quite different setups. Snapper are a prime target species here in spring and summer but so are squid, garfish, and king George whiting. It’s also productive for flicking metal lures and soft plastics for salmon. It’s a real mixed bag here and you need to be prepared for different species. The breakwater Rockwall starts at the end of the pier and stretches for roughly 500 meters which provides fantastic fishing. Lots of fishing space Just make sure you have a long net or gaff as landing fish on the rocks can be tricky.

Portarlington Pier has been upgraded and extended over the years. It now includes a marina for boats and 500 meters long Rockwall which protects the harbor. The pier recently received another major upgrade of $9.6 million dollars 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.

It’s best to target Snapper during Spring and Summer towards the end of the rock wall casting out as far as you can ideally with a light to medium surf rod where you can access deeper waters. Longer length rods and heavier sinkers allow you to cast a good distance from the end of the pier to get fresh baits in prime areas. Fresh baits such as freshly caught squid will help your catch rates immensely. We recommend using a dropper rig, paternoster rig, or running sinker rig. Then finished with a squid strip or pilchard tail on a 4/0 or 5/0 hook. If you chasing pinkies and flathead then a paternoster rig with pilchard tail or raw chicken breast on a size 2/0 or 3/0 will fish very well. 

Learn to catch snapper land-based around the Bellarine peninsula

We recommend using a dropper rig or paternoster rig at this location which will allow you to change sinkers and get ample casting distance. Then finished with a squid strip, pilchard tail, full pilchard, or silver whiting on 4/0 or 5/0 hooks as the images below show.

Below shows a double-snelled rig and above an Ezi rig slier with interchangeable sinkers. This is great for land-based fishing when using full baits like pilchards and silver whiting. 

You can also use Paternoster rigs to present 2 chunks or strip bats like squid, and pilchards. Having an interchangeable sinker at the bottom allows you to get ample casting distance. 

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.


Best Baits Fishing Portarlington Pier

Bait Choices

Our bait recommendations here include fresh baits that can be caught at the pier such as squid, salmon, and garfish. The are several ways to present baits including a dropper rig, paternoster rig, or running sinker rig. The rig choice will be dependent on the species you are targeting and the conditions such as wind and tidal strength. Where possible fish with as little weight.

  • Squid
  • pipis
  • pilchard
  • blue bait
  • silver whiting
  • garfish
  • salmon
  • raw chicken strips
  • prawns
  • silverfish

Best Lures and soft plastics for Portarlington Pier Rockwall

Soft Plastics

  • Squid jigs ( size 2.5 and 3 )
  • Berkley gulp 4 inch turtleback worm
  • Zman slim Swimz
  • Berkley powerbait grub
  • Gulp 3 inch minnow
  • Zman grubZ
  • Daiwa Double Clutch
  • EcoGear SX40
  • Squidges biotough grub
  • Zman StreakZ
  • Munroes 3.75 inch paddle tails

Places to fish near Portarlington Pier Rockwall

Not far from Portarlington Pier you can also try fishing at these destinations

Important Tips when fishing at Portarlington Pier

  • It can get crowded, especially during spring and Summer. Additional foot traffic due to walkers and those catching the ferry.
  • Make sure you bring a long net or gaff which will be needed when trying to lift a decent snapper out of the water onto the pier which can be very challenging due to the height of the pier. Not to mention the rocky ledge a few meters out from the end of the pier.
  • Expect to catch some pest species like banjo sharks

Targeting Snapper at Portarlington Pier Rockwall


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 is 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.

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

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

Gummy Shark

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

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 feet and 9 feet 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 that 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 a constant slow reel is all that’s required.

Check out this instructional video guide on how to squid filmed locally in Port Phillip Bay


Targeting Salmon at Portarlington Pier


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 Whiting at Portarlington Pier


Whiting is fun to catch on light spinning gear and tastes great. They school up in big numbers and respond well to berley. Whiting fishing requires finesse, so we recommend a 7-foot, 1-3, or 2-4 kilo spin rod paired with a 1000-2500 size reel. Spooled with 6-10 lb line. A simple running sinker rig to swivel, with 50cm of leader to a small baitholder long shank hook, or a paternoster rig with 2 hooks and interchangeable sinker depending on the conditions. Whiting are also great fun to catch on soft plastics including worm or yabbie imitations with lightly weighted jig head, and surface lures.

Watch our 25-minute whiting masterclass as we guide you through everything you need to know to catch whiting.


Targeting Flathead at Portarlington Pier

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.

Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Portarlington Pier Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals. Thank you for visiting the Portarlington Pier Rockwall 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