Welcome to the Princess Pier Fishing guide. Princess Pier was built in 1912 and become an iconic location along Port Melbourne. The pier was closed in 1990 due to rotting timber which was unsafe for the public to walk on. But was reopened to the public in 2011 after a 14 million dollar renovation fund as part of a state government initiative. What makes this location so unique is the original pier was 580 meters long and the renovated pier is only 190 meters long. Leaving 390 meters of the original stumps left in the ground. This has created an amazing underwater ecosystem for local fish species. The structure has become home to snapper, bream, mulloway, flathead and more.
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From Princess pier, you will see the adjacent piers in station pier, lagoon pier and kerfed pier, and quite often see the big ships such as the spirit of Tasmania cruising in. It’s also a great spot to fish with a Kayak and throw lures deep into the stumps and structures.
Check out this detailed video we put together about Princess Pier and how to fish there.
Things to do in Port Melbourne
Port Melbourne is a stylish township where high rise residential buildings and cafes run along the bay. It’s a great place for dinner with many restaurants along the bay street. You are only a short distance away from the West Gate Bridge, Melbourne CBD. This stretch is very popular with walking, cycling and jogging along the paved walkways along the beach. There are also dog-friendly beaches. A great time to walk along the beach is sundown. A scenic area is great for photo opportunities. Take the kids for ice cream and play in the sandy beach area. There are many piers along this stretch such as Kerferd road pier, lagoon pier, station pier and princess pier. Due to its deep waters, many large boats will be moored along the station pier. Including the spirit of Tasmania, Queen Elizabeth, large shipping vessels and navy vessels.
A short distance away you can take a hot air balloon ride and overlook the bay and piers along with Port Melbourne. You can also jump onboard cruise ships that will take you around Port Melbourne, Williamstown and stretches of the Yarra River. Of course, this area is also well known as a top fishing location around Melbourne. Hence this Princess Pier Fishing Guide. Deep waters are easily accessible and wonderful catches of snapper annually.
Fishing Princess Pier
As the video above highlights, this is a terrific fishing location. Snapper and Pinkies are probably the most targeted fish species here particular in summer. However, the cut pylons produce an amazing structure for bream, snapper, flathead, snook, salmon, garfish, mulloway, mullet and more. If you’re flicking lures into the structure then the choices are endless. Our goto choices have been 4-inch jerk shads, grub styles soft plastics and curl tails. These rigged on a 1/8 or 1/6 ounce jig head are a great combination for snapper and pinkies. Other good options to flick amongst the timer are crab imitations, blades and vibes. Allow the soft plastic or lure time to sink towards the bottom of the stumps as that’s where plenty of fish reside.
When flicking amongst the timber I like to rig up a little heavier than normal. A 3-5 or 4-6 kilo rod with a 3000 size reel spooled with 15-20 pound braid and equivalent leader is a great starting point. You could fish lighter with a 2-4 kilo capacity coupled with a 2000 size reel spooled with 10 pound braid but do expect to be busted off by bigger fish along the pylons. When bait fishing from the jetty pilchards, squid, whiting fillets and raw chicken are great bait choices. A combination of a simple running sinker setup and a paternoster rig does the trick in this location for many species. Using burley really does help keep the fish around. If you’re targeting large snapper and gummy sharks then a full unweighted pilchard with a size 5 Mustad hook is a great way to go.
If you fishing from the pier an all-around setup might be a good way to go. this will allow you to target multiple species. One day might catch pinkies, bream and salmon and the next day a large snapper or mulloway.
It’s best to follow the tides. The low tide seems to bring good runs of flathead and salmon and the high tide consistently produces a good volume of snapper, pinkies and bream. The hours of first and, last light are good times to fish regardless of the tides. If you are fishing on the jetty be cautious as there isn’t a lot of fishing space and you want to avoid line tangles. Only 2 fishing lines are permitted, Always carry your Victorian fishing license, and always follow catch limits. Where possible we encourage catch and release.If fishing from a kayak always take the necessary safety precautions and keep your distance from boats. Here is our guide on Kayak safety.
Baits Port Melbourne
- blue bait
- silver whiting
- raw chicken strips
Lures and soft plastics for Port Melbourne
- Daiwa Baitjunkie 5 inch jerk shads
- Berkley gulp turtleback worm
- 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
Tips for fishing Port Melbourne
Soft plastics such as grubs, minnows imitations, and paddle tails work really well in Port Phillip Bay. Flathead and Pinkie Snapper respond really well to these. When chasing snapper upgrade to larger jerk shads in 4 or 5 inches. If you can find a school of snapper on your sounder then these will work really well jigged off the bottom whilst drifting over them. There are many bait options and you will need to choose a suitable bait for the fish species that you are targeting. We have had success using pilchards, silver whiting, squid, garfish, salmon, scad, bonito, raw chicken, mullet, pippis, prawns. Often using a berley pot at the back of your boat full of pilchards, pellets, and oil is a great way to encourage fish to your boat.
Check out our full-length video on the best soft plastics and lures for Port Phillip Bay
Targeting Snapper at Port Melbourne
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 Melbourne
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 Melbourne
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.
Targeting Snook at Port Melbourne
These toothy critters are fun to catch on light spinning gear. You will find them in shallow weedy waters often a bycatch for those targeting snapper, whiting and flathead. You can catch snook with staple baits such as pilchard, prawn, and squid. However, Snook loves natural-looking soft plastics retrieved at a medium pace including minnows, paddle tails, and grubs. Add scent to the soft plastics really seems to help. Snook also respond well to shallow and mid diving hard body lures in shiny colours retrieved at a medium pace. Metal slugs and blades trolled slowly also work very well. Do handle snook with care as they have razor-sharp teeth. Despite their sharp teeth it’s still best to target them with light gear that you would generally use for pinkies and flathead. We recommend a 2-4 or 3-5 kilo spin rod paired with a 2500 size reel, spooled with 8-12 pound line and leader.
Check out this video of a crazy snook session when kayak fishing.
Targeting Salmon at Port Melbourne
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 garfish at Port Melbourne
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 Mullowat at Port Melbourne
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 mullet at Port Melbourne
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 into fishing. Mullet respond well to berley, so berley 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 a small mouth 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 help. Most mullets are 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.
Here are some helpful tips on catching Mullet with soft plastics.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Princess Pier Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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