Welcome to the St Leonards Pier Fishing Guide. St Leonard’s is a small coastal township with just over 200 residents. It’s 110 kilometers from Melbourne and roughly 45 minutes past Geelong parallel to Queenscliff. It’s a wonderful land-based fishing destination that offers a wide variety of species and occasional trophy fish. With clear waters, weed beds, and fishing in roughly 6 meters deep water it offers a vast array of fishing either on the main jetty, boat or kayak. Popular species to target include King George whiting, snapper, squid, and garfish. It’s an excellent land-based location for squid fishing. It’s a great location for fishing within Port Phillip Bay on the tip of the Bellarine peninsula.


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Things to do at St Leonards

This is a lovely location with clean beaches and local caravan parks. Nearby attractions include Harvey Park with great views of Port Phillip bay and picnic and BBQ facilities. There is also Duck island state reserve which is a popular parrot and bird lookout. Geelong is located 70 kilometers away from Melbourne with many shops, parks, piers, restaurants, cafes, and adventures. Some of the local attractions include the beautifully maintained Geelong botanic gardens.

If you’re after a bit more excitement then Geelong Adventure park has world-class rides and waterslides. Including the new Tsunami waterslide. There is Serendip Sanctuary closer to Lara which offers access to Australia’s wildlife and gardens. The Geelong waterfront area is a vibrant spot full of piers and great for walking, picnics, and eating.

Watch this video of FishingMad catching snapper of St Leonards pier

Fishing St Leonards Pier

At St Leonards, 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.

  • Squid
  • King George Whiting
  • Snapper
  • Garfish
  • Flathead
  • Australian Salmon
  • Grass Whiting
  • Trevally
  • Snook
  • Occasional catches of kingfish and gummy sharks

The pier is located at the end of Murradoc road running along the esplanade and provides access to deeper water to those fishing by land. It’s a great fishing location and offers a wide variety of species to target. With clean waters and lots of visible weed beds, Spring and Summer are very productive times to fish here.

The weed beds on the left side of the pier are fantastic grounds for squid and King George whiting which can be caught in good numbers in the right conditions. Those weed beds are prime areas for squid take some time to look for signs such as ink stains on the pier or weed beds that are visible from the pier. The choice of squid jigs is almost endless here but pick something that will take advantage of the depth and distance that you need to cover. The area can be quite shallow on low tide and many of the locals resort to using smaller size squid jigs to great effect. You could also try suspending a full silver whiting or pilchard from a float and squid spike. If fishing on the pier an 8-9 foot Medium-light rod is ideal to provide extra casting distance. Why not read our detailed guide on How to catch squid?

These same weedy grounds are also home to many King George Whiting. Pipis or small strips of squid will work well and when they are on the bite can be quite frantic.

St Leonards Pier Fishing

It’s best to target Snapper at the end of the pier casting out as far as you can ideally with a light to medium surf rod. Snapper will arrive in these areas in Spring and Summer. 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 finish with a squid strip, pilchard tail, full pilchard, or silver whiting on 4/0 or 5/0 hooks as the images below show.

Below is 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. 

Follow local reports as certain fish will be active seasonally. For example, snapper are active in summer and salmon are active in winter. Soft plastics will work well for bread and butter species such as flathead and pinkies. You will catch much small fish but need to be prepared for the odd large fish such as a Trevally or Snapper. Fishing at dawn or dusk on the incoming high tide will be your best chance especially when the wind is chopping up a little. We have also noted that fishing around the full moon is also productive here.

Important Tips when fishing at St Leonards Pier

  • It can be a very crowded fishing location, especially during spring and Summer. Often rows of fishing rods at the end of the pier.
  • 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

Rows of anglers lined up at the end of St Leonards pier fishing for snapper.

Best Baits Fishing St Leonards Pier

Bait Choices

Our bait recommendations at St Leonard’s 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 St Leonards Pier

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 St Leonards

Not far from St Leonards you can also try fishing at these destinations


Fishing for Whiting at St Leonards


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 detailed masterclass on everything you need to know to catch whiting.

Fishing for Snapper at St Leonards Pier


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.

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

Fishing for Squid at St Leonards 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


Fishing for garfish at St Leonards 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.

Berley is an important tool when targeting garfish, You can purchase premade berley pellets or powder from your local tackle shop or make your own use of 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 feet in length Paired with 1000, 2000, or 25000  size reel spooled with 4-6 lb line will be a great choice.

Targeting Salmon at St Leonards


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 the darker color of the water. When bait fishing picks a surf rod between 12-15 feet in length which allows for long casts with heavy sinkers and keeps 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

Targeting Trevally at St Leonards


Trevally pound for pound is one of the best fighting fish. In certain parts of Australia surface popping for Giant Trevally is one of the bucket list fishing experiences that you must tick off. However, in Victoria, you will mainly be catching the much smaller silver trevally. Good bait options include blue bait, white bait, raw chicken, pilchards, pippies, squid, and mussels. Trevally will also take a range of soft plastics including worm and minnow imitations, small surface poppers, and small metal spoons. We recommend targeting trevally with a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo fishing rod coupled with a 2000, or 2500 reel spooled with 4-8-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader. If there are larger trevally in the area then you can go heavier moving up the scale to a 3-5 kilo class spin rod spooled with fine 8-12-pound braid and equivalent fluorocarbon leader.

Targeting Gummy Shark at St Leonards Pier

Gummy Shark

We would recommend targeting a gummy shark 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 single or double-snelled rig or 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 St Leonards 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 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 St Leonards fishing guide are Fishing Mad originals. Thank you for visiting the St Leonards Pier 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