Welcome to the Williamstown Fishing Guide. Williamstown is a popular and vibrant township known for its range of beachfront shops, markets and fishing. It has multiple well-known fishing spots overlooking Port Phillip Bay which includes Gem Pier, Fergurson Street Pier, Anne street pier and fishing along the football ground near the reefs. It’s a great urban fishing location close to Melbourne that has grown in immense popularity with kayak fishing and small boats. Land-based anglers can cast out will allow you to target great species such as snapper, flathead and trevally whilst keeping your baits in close around the structure will allow you to target bream. Whilst those with boats are often found a few hundred meters out from the football oval in the reefs chasing snapper.

Things to do in Williamstown

Williamstown is a great destination for the whole family only 15 minutes from Melbourne. There are scenic parks, beaches, and piers to explore. The township has many boutique shops, restaurants, and places to grab an ice cream. Once you have done that then you can enjoy the beach or a walk at the beautifully maintained botanical gardens. The township is also popular for its arts and crafts market and farmers markets which are run regularly. Williamstown also has breathtaking views at night overlooking Melbourne in all its glory. These make great photo opportunities or a great spot for a walk and ice cream in the evening. There are regular events along the beach plus the town has good basic amenities including a visitor information centre, available parking and public toilets.

On the water, there are ferries, fishing charters and helicopters ready to take you out for a day of adventure. Why not take an adventure on the tall pirate ship ready to take you out on the water for an hour leaving from Gemm pier. There is also the HMAS war vessel which acts as a floating museum ready to take you back in time. There is also the Sea Shepard made famous by Steve Irwin which can be located on Anne Street.

Fishing at Williamstown

Williamstown is the doorstep to Hobsons bay where you can catch a lot of different fish species. Including snapper, flathead, bream, snook, silver trevally, mulloway, salmon, gummy shark, garfish, mullet, yellowfin scad and more. An all-round rod setup will allow you to target a different range of fish and sizes. Either a running sinker rig or paternoster rig with a sinker attached to suit your desired casting distance. A 7 foot 2-4 or 3-5 kilo fishing rod, with a 3000 size reel spooled with 10-pound line and equivalent leader is a great starting point. You can go heavier or lighter depending on what you’re targeting. Eg if your solely targeting bream then a 2-4 kilo rod and 2000 size reel with 6-pound braid is a great choice.

Good bait options include pilchards, raw chicken, squid and blue bait. I also like to fish using a half pilchard tail with a single hook and half hitch knot. This is also a good location to flick soft plastics. Using small minnow imitations, paddle tails, crab and yabbie imitations lightly rigged directly near the piers and structure targeting bream and pinkies. The slow movement of the plastic as it descends is often when you will get strikes. Or you can opt to use a heavy jig head to cast out further targeting species such as flathead. Work these soft plastics slowly or hopped off the flat sandy bottom is an effective way to catch flathead and pinkies. 

Have a read of our detailed guide on fishing Hobsons bay for bream with bait. This can be a great spot to take the kids fishing with large volumes of mullet and garfish that will happily take small baits.

If you plan on targeting larger species such as snapper or mulloway then you may choose to go heavier with a 7 foot 6 inch 4-7 kilo rod and 4000 size reel spooled with 12-20 pound line. Soft plastics and blades will also work well here slowly hopped off the bottom with some pauses and erratic lifts. This technique works a treat for pinkies, flathead, and Trevally. In the cooler months schools of salmon are common. It always pays to have some long casting metal slugs and long rod suitable for casting them. Catching salmon from piers can be amazing fun if you happen to be there at the right moment.

When fishing around Williamstown its best to follow the tides. The low tide has good runs of flathead and salmon and the high tide consistently produces good bream and pinkies. First and last light is good times to fish regardless of the tides.

Have a look at this video which demonstrates how to target bream when fishing on Fergurson pier.

Only 2 fishing lines permitted, Always carry your Victorian fishing license, and always follow catch limits. Where possible we encourage catch and release. This area is chock full of pests like Gobies and Starfish. I could count how many times my line wasn’t moving yet when I check the bait has one on the end of the line.

Parking is available in front of Fergusson street pier, but its only free during certain hours. I have seen anglers fined here. There is also paid parking along the main road.

Fishing by boat in Williamstown

Williamstown is an amazing fishing destination by boat. Most will launch from Altona and be opposite the football ground and reefs within minutes. Otherwise, you can launch from the Warmies or Werribee. Between November and March, this is a brilliant place to target snapper. Even is water depth as low as 4 meters big snapper can be caught. The best methods are fishing with pilchards, silver whiting or squid on a double snelled or paternoster rig. Otherwise, if you have a good sounder you can mark snapper and pinkies and have fun flicking soft plastics with 4-inch sizes being a great option.

Kayaking in Williamstown

Williamstown is also a popular destination for kayaking. Whether that’s for a scenic few hours on the water of specifically for fishing. Hobson Bay has plenty of places hidden to the wind and tidal flow of Port Phillip Bay where you can still catch some amazing fish including snapper, bream, flathead and Mulloway. In the warmer months, it’s not uncommon to catch a large snapper on your kayak only a few hundred meters from shore. With many kayakers launching from the main beach and heading towards the football ground reefs. Parking can be a little tricky for kayakers in the area. There are also kayaking tuition and day tours which leave Williamstown regularly.

This video was filmed just down the road from Williamstown and highlights how good the fishing by kayak can be

Baits Williamstown

  • pilchard
  • pipis
  • blue bait
  • silver whiting
  • garfish
  • salmon
  • raw chicken strips
  • prawns
  • maggots
  • silverfish
  • squid
  • mussels

Lures and soft plastics for Williamstown

Rod, Reel and line setup for Williamstown

There are literally so many options and it really depends on the species of fish that you’re targeting. For bread and butter species such as flathead and whiting a 2-4 or 3-5 kilo rod that’s between 6 foot 6 and 7 foot in length coupled with 2000, 2500 or 3000 size reel spooled with 6-10 pound line and equivalent leader. You can also use a similar outfit when targeting squid however you may choose to go to slighter longer rod and slighter heavier line and leader.

When targeting snapper a rod between 7 and 8 foot in 4-7 kilo class is perfect. Coupled with a 3000, 4000 or 5000 size reel spooled with 15-30 pound monofilament line. Bait runners are an excellent choice for snapper fishing and should be an item you consider. When rigging for snapper go with single or double snelled size 5 or 6 hooks. You can fish these with a very small sinker or completely unweighted. We like to simply use pre-made snapper rigs which work great in this area. Often I will use pre-made rigs and simply run a very small size 1 ball sinker on the inside of the leader. This would also be a suitable outfit for targeting small gummy sharks. However, if your chasing bigger model gummy shark then we would recommend a heavier outfit. Perhaps a 7 foot 10-15 kilo rod spooled with 20-50 line and equivalent leader.

Targeting Snapper at Williamstown

Snapper

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 Williamstown

Gummy Shark

We would recommend targeting 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 to single or double snelled rig or paternoster rig. You can use an Ezi rig attaching a sinker to the clip 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 Williamstown

Flathead

We encourage you to read our detailed guide on How to catch Flathead. Flathead is a year-round prospect which can be caught at any time of the day. They are an ambush predator that waits in disguise for smaller fish to swim buy 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 your 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 baits choices include pilchards, mussels, squid, chicken, whitebait, Pipis, blue bait and prawns.

Targeting Bream at Williamstown

Bream

This is a great location to target bream with lures and soft plastics. The options available are almost endless so make sure you read our guide on the best lures to catch bream. Recommended options include crab imitation, shallow diving cranks, paddle tail soft plastics, curl tail soft plastics, minnow imitations, vibes, and blades. Also, try your luck with surface lures which is an exciting form of fishing with light gear.

Bream is all about finesse fishing so you will need an ultralight spin outfit. We recommend 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. There are so many amazing bream outfits on the market and budgets vary greatly depending on your skill level and spending habits.

Bream reside within the structure such as jetty pylons and stumps. Enticing them away from the structure onto your lure will take some time to master. Remember to work your lures and plastics slowly and mix up the retrieval techniques.

If your targeting bream with bait than we would highly recommend sandworms, maggots, scrub worms, mussels, yabbies, & chicken. A 2-4 kilo class rod paired with a 2500 size reel would be a great option spooled with 6-pound line. We would encourage you to read our detailed guide on Bait fishing for Bream.

Targeting Whiting at Williamstown

Whiting

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 on everything you need to know to catch whiting.

Targeting Salmon at Williamstown

Salmon

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 their weight. When hooked they produce strong bursts of speed, powerful runs, vigorous head shakes. Do keep an eye out for gutters which are patches of deeper water which 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.

When lure fishing first consider what weight lures your 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 Snook at Williamstown

Snook

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 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 Mullowat at Williamstown

Mulloway

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 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 surrounding 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 Trevally at Williamstown

Trevally

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, whitebait, 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 than 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 mullet at Williamstown

Mullet

This is a great location to mullet a bread and butter species which 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 prawn. remember that Mullet have small mouths 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 helps.

Most mullet 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.

Known hazards at Western Port

There is no shortage of pest species which can be quite dangerous. These would include stingrays, toadfish. Flathead is the most common catch and you will need to be careful when handling them due to their venomous spines located behind their heads. Other fish with venomous spines that can be caught include gurnard and scorpionfish so do handle with extreme caution.

Always be careful when out on the boat ensure you take all the safety precautions and show mother nature the respect she really deserves.

I must also stress that often the biggest hazard is impatient people at boat ramps. This is especially disturbing when you have your young kids with you watching on. If everyone could show a little patience, and mutual respect to other anglers it would go along way. Also, make sure you give each other enough space to fish safely. Too often during snapper season, you see boat anchor right next to someone who has caught fish. Or other anglers getting aggressive because you’re near there marks. No one owns the water and everyone should treat others on the water with respect.

Acknowledgements

Images of fish supplied VFA and DEPI. All other images and videos shown on the Williamstown Fishing Guide are Fishing Mad originals.

Additions or Corrections for this location

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