Welcome to the Warrnambool Fishing Guide. Warrnambool is located along the great ocean road in Victoria 3 hours drive from Melbourne. A vibrant township along the bay that’s home to roughly 35,000 residents. Warrnambool offers a vast array of options out into the bay along the break wall or ventures down to the Hopkins River. Warrnambool has become a popular location to visit. located all the way down the great ocean road between Port fairy and Port Campbell it offers whale watching, clean beaches, swimming, good accommodation, scenic views, and a vibrant town with cafes and restaurants.
Waranga Basin has a capacity of 432,360 megalitres and is one of the largest storage in Goulburn. Water is diverted from the Goulburn River and supplies the Central Goulburn, Rochester, and Pyramid-Boort irrigation areas across northern Victoria. Basin water also supplies the nearby towns of Rushworth, Kyabram, Stanhope, and Tongala.
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Things to do Warnambool
It’s a great place to take the family for a few-day stay. In winter there is whale watching, clean beaches, swimming, good accommodation, scenic views, and a vibrant town with cafes and restaurants. Nearby attractions include the Lake pertrobe playgrounds, bay of islands spectacular scenic formation the 12 apostles historic rocks, Warnambool botanic gardens, the Warnabmool art gallery, the Warnambool racetrack, and an amazing coastline full of fishing opportunities, and Logans beach for whale sightings. The breakwater is a spectacular sight with crashing waves, sights and sounds. It also has a good assortment of picnic tables and amenities.
Warrnambool provides 2 distantly different fishing options. Fishing in the bear either in a boat or landbased along the breakwater wall. Or in the Hopkins River. In the bay, you will find Kingfish, Whiting, Snapper, Snook, Barracouta, Trevally, Shark, and Salmon. Good bait choices when fishing along the bay include pilchards, silver whiting, bonito, chicken, squid, Maggots, Scrub worms, Mullet. Rod selection all depends on what you’re chasing. If you fishing from a boat then an unweighted full pilchard or silver whiting or lightly weighted squid with double snelled suicide hooks is a great option. I would go with a snapper setup which would generally consist of a 7 foot 5-8 kilo rod. This will allow you to target many of the bigger species. It’s also good to go with a general-purpose rod that allows you to cover many different types of species. In this case, a 3-5 kilo rod with a 3000 reel spooled with the 6-pound line would be a great option. If you’re going for smaller fish then a light rod setup is best. 2–4 kilo capacity, with a 2000-3000 reel which will be sensitive enough to feel small bites and inquiries. If you’re chasing bigger fish like snapper and Gummy Sharks then you’ll want a heavier setup and potentially a long casting surf rod. Something along the lines of an 8 foot 5-8 kilo rod spooled with a stronger line such as 12 pounds.
- blue bait
- silver whiting
- raw chicken strips
Lures and soft plastics for Port Phillip Bay
- 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
- Dawia Bait Junkie paddle tail minnow
- eco gear ZX40
- Daiwa Double Clutch
- EcoGear SX40
- Squidges biotough grub
- Kietech swim impact fat
- Zerek fish trap
- Samaki Vibelicious
When fishing the Hopkins River, you can target bream, estuary perch, flathead, mullet, salmon and mulloway. The most popular form of catching bream in the Hopkins river is with lures and soft plastics. The choice of lures when targeting bream is almost endless. Do make sure you read our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Some recommended options would include Cranka Crabs, shallow diving crank lures, small paddle tail soft plastics, small curl tail soft plastics, minnow imitations, vibes and blades. It’s also a great spot for surface lures which can be one of the most fun forms of fishing with light gear. Again the options here are almost endless.
When flicking lures and plastics you will need an ultralight spinning outfit. This would start with a light rod around 7 feet in length either a 1-3 or 2-4 kilo class. There are so many great options to choose from in this range which can be quite confusing for beginners. When choosing a reel make sure you pick a 1000, 2040 or 2500 size that is best, spooled with a 4-6 pound braid and finished with a 2 or 4-pound leader. Again the range of reels on the market is amazing and the budgets vary greatly depending on your skill level and spending habits. If you plan on fishing with baits then we would highly recommend using Sandworms, maggots, scrub worms, pilchards, mussels, yabbies, & chicken. For bait fishing again a light rod setup is best. A 2-4 kilo class rod with a 2500 size reel would be a great option spooled with 6-pound line. Beginners can go a little heavier with a 3-5 kilo rod.
We would encourage you to watch our video below on how to catch bream with bait or read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.
Targeting Kingfish at Warrnambool
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 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 Tuna at Warrnambool
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 Whiting at Warrnambool
Whiting is a bread and butter species which are fun to catch on light spinning gear and tastes 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 feet 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 Snapper at Warrnambool
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 Snook at Warrnambool
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 Gummy Shark at Warrnambool
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 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 Warrnambool
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 Salmon at Warrnambool
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 the darker colour of the water. When bait fishing pick a surf rod between 12-15 feet 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.
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
Check out this video of a crazy salmon school we recently encountered.
Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. Map from Wikipedia. All other images and videos shown on Warrnambool Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.
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