In recent years there has been an emphasis on recreational Fishing from the Victorian government that should help us all catch fish. Starting with the “Target One Million” campaign, free boat ramps and the wonderful restocking and environmental improvement efforts led by the Fisheries department. Finally, the revenue raised by the government from boating licenses, boat and trailer registrations and fishing licenses is being re-invested. That means it’s going into Victoria’s fishing and boating infrastructure. In turn, helping to support the multi-billion dollar recreational fishing industry. A significant boost to the Victorian economy.
Selecting bait, rods, lures and the best locations to target one of Australia’s most popular Recreational Fish Species.
Tips based on personal experience and observations of successful anglers. Information can be applied to most Australian Flathead locations. Including Southern Blue Spotted & Dusky Flathead
Look. I love fishing. I love growing veggies. Particularly tomatoes. But I've never enjoyed European Carp! Fresh fish caught by me, combined with a salad from my own garden. What's not to love about that? Right? European Carp is classified as a noxious pest in Victoria and most of Australia.…
Measuring Your Catch
The Victorian Fisheries Authority video giving detailed instructions on how to measure you catch.
If you’ve never measured a fish or are unsure of the right way to do so this video will help make sure you stay legal.
Recreational Victorian Fish Species FAQ
Scientific Name: Pagrus auratus
Snapper is without a doubt the most popular saltwater target species in Victorian waters. With 44.8% of the 2018 VFA survey choosing this species above all others (the majority).
Snapper schools start to become prolific in Port Phillip and Western Port bays from around the end of September through summer and becoming less common after May.
Juveniles are often called “Pinky Snapper” or simply “Pinkies” and make up a huge number of catches.
Adult Snapper can be large, heavy fish that fight extremely well. However, immature Pinkies can be targeted using much lighter tackle.
For juveniles and adults, my preference is for a Paternoster rig. I tend to choose the hook sizes of 3/0 and 6/0. These have worked well for me for adult snapper.
Choose according to the target size and bait size.
Pinkies can be targeted using the same lighter rigs you’d use for Whiting, Bream and smaller Flathead.
I always select chemically sharpened hooks.
A 70g to 112g sinker is usually my choice. In Western Port Bay you may like to go heavier due to tidal flow.
I tend to choose a 40 – 50lb leader for adult snapper. With a mainline in the range of 15 – 30kg.
Lighter lines are fine if targeting Pinkies.
When making or selecting a rig fluorescent beads, tubes and even adding feathers can be effective.
Bait: Pilchards, Squid, Prawns, Beach Worms. I have had a lot of success with Chicken when targeting Pinkies.
Soft Plastics and hard body lures can be very effective.
Berley, Berley Berley!! Can’t say it often enough. Brings baitfish in, this attracts snapper schools, keeps them hanging around.
Legal Min Size: 28cm
Bag Limit: 10 (of which no more than 3 fish may be equal to or exceed 40cm in length.)
Survey Results – Most Popular Snapper Spots: Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Apollo Bay, Mallacoota Inlet, Warrnambool / Port Fairy, Lake Tyers, Portland, Barwon River Estuary, Lakes Entrance Coastal, Phillip Island
In Australia, a Flathead fish normally referred to as simply a “flathead” is a marine species that lives often buried up to its eyes in the sand or mud.
It is an ambush predator of the family Platycephalus sp*.
The species has no relationship to the flathead catfish of the United States.
Scientific Name: Sillaginodes punctata
King George Whiting, according to the 2018 VFA survey, is the 2nd most popular target species for fishing in Victoria.
While common and in good numbers, during the summer season they are a very timid fish.
So stealth is an important factor. Busy piers with lots of people diving and splashing do not make for an ideal whiting fishing trip.
In general, targeting a seagrass bed is a great approach. Tools like Google Maps or Google Earth satellite views can really assist in finding those spots.
Good baits include pipis, pilchard pieces, whitebait and bluebait. Prawns and sandworms can work too.
As always berley is important. Fine particles being excellent for attracting small bait fish into the area stimulating Whiting feeding.
My preference is a Paternoster rig and keeping lines and rig as light as possible.
Size 4 long shank hooks or for a smaller rig size 6 hooks are my go-to setup.
30g sinker is about right. Though a lighter 20-25g rig can work well in estuaries with minor streamflow.
Legal Min Size: 27cm
Bag Limit: 20
Survey Results – Most Popular King George Whiting Spots: Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Phillip Island, Barwon River Estuary, Lakes Entrance Coastal, Apollo Bay, Lake Tyers, Portland, Warrnambool / Port Fairy, Mallacoota Inlet,
Scientific Name: Platycephalidae
There are several species of flathead in Victorian waters. The two most common varieties being the Southern Blue Spotted Flathead and the Dusky Flathead.
Dusky Flathead is more common in waters in and East of Lake Tyers, Victoria.
It should be noted that each has different catch limits.
Flathead scored as Victoria’s third most sort after saltwater fish in the 2018 VFA survey of fishing license holders. With 37.5 of people targetting this species specifically.
Legal Min Size: 27cm
Bag Limit: A combined total limit of 20 for one or more species of flathead (excluding dusky flathead)
Survey Results – Most Popular Flathead Spots: Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Gippsland Lakes, Phillip Island, Lakes Entrance Coastal, Barwon River Estuary, Portland, Apollo Bay, Lake Tyers, Warrnambool / Port Fairy, Mallacoota Inlet
Scientific Name: Arripis trutta
The Australian salmon is not a true salmon and is not related to the famous salmon species of the northern hemisphere (the salmonids).
This fish is found in large schools and can often be spotted breaking the water surface, known as a “bust-up.”
It’s common for seabirds to flock around Australian Salmon schools at this time and the birds are often used to locate the schools of this species.
The Salmon schools often move through an area quite quickly. So targetting a school may require moving with them. Obviously easier to do in a boat.
How To Catch Australian Salmon
These fish fight well so at least a 15-30 lb mainline if braid. You may prefer going heavier for monoline in the surf.
A 40lb leader is usually how I rig. Depending on fishing in the bay or from a surf beach. eg: You may prefer to go lighter in a bay.
I recommend a 5/0 hook. Choose circle, beak, bait holder* etc. I choose chemically sharpened.
112-gram star sinker is my personal preference. However, rig for the conditions. You can go lighter from a boat, or pier etc.
Use berley. The schools move fast through an area. So berley will keep them around longer as it attracts small baitfish.
With soft plastics use the same kinds and jig weights you would for other marine species such as bream, flathead etc.
Good baits are pilchards, whitebait, bluebait & squid. But don’t overlook bait such as chicken (yes, seriously!)
Legal Min Size: 21cm
Bag Limit: 20
Survey Results – Most Popular Australian Salmon Spots: Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Apollo Bay, Portland, Lakes Entrance Coastal, Phillip Island, Gippsland Lakes, Barwon River Estuary, Lake Tyers, Warnambool / Port Fairy, Mallacoota Inlet.
Yes, it does. Aniseed adds a strong scent to bait and lures that affects the senses of fish. Acting as an attractant*. Many people add aniseed to their bait and berley. While a lot of commercial fish attractants* contain this ingredient. It should, however, be used sparingly as too much will have the opposite effect. Dried anise flowers can be ground up for Aniseed and used.
Yes. Many fish species are attracted to garlic. The strong odour works on the fishes senses as an attractant. Many anglers add garlic to their bait and berley. Many commercial fish attractants* contain garlic.
Natural salt like Rock Salt and Sea Salt do attract fish. Both for freshwater and saltwater species. The reason being that salt is a major component of blood. Predator fish are attracted to blood in the water. The salt acts as a substitute and attracts predator species.
While a few adult snapper and Immature Pinky Snapper are caught during the Winter months the snapper season really gets underway late September or Early October. Depending largely on water temperatures. The season then extends through to March. Again water temperature playing a significant role.
A Paternoster Rig is a fishing rig that usually has two hooks attached to smaller leaders running out from the main leader. The entire rig is often attached to the main-line using a swivel, split-shot or line-stop to help reduce line tangling.
The sinker is most often placed at the bottom. But can be placed above the hooks, for example when Gummy Shark fishing using a Breakaway Rig.
A Paternoster Rig can be used in both saltwater and freshwater fishing. Though it is very a very common rig used when pier fishing it is also used when fishing from a boat or kayak. Allowing the two hooks to increase the amount of available bait used to entice the fish.
Double fish hookups can and do occur when fishing with a Paternoster Rig.
The most effective traditional flathead rig when bait fishing is a simple running sinker. A single hook with the sinker running above the leader. With a swivel, spilt-shot or line-stop to stop the sinker running down to the hook.
However, flathead can also be caught effectively on paternoster rigs, too. Often resulting in double hook-ups.
Plus a lot of people use soft plastic lures with a weighted jig head.
Dawn and dusk is the best time to catch King George Whiting. This goes for other whiting species such as sand whiting too.
If you can combine dawn or dusk with strong currents or waves you could increase your chances of catching Kind George Whiting. Strong water action exposes the prey items whiting feed on. Stimulating schools to bite.
The best Whiting rig is generally considered to be the paternoster rig. Either size 4 or size 6 hooks with a 30g sinker. I usually use a pyramid sinker.
Many people put coloured or neon skirts and beads – red and/or green – on their whiting rigs to improve the level of attraction to the fish. Most people do find this increases fish catches.
It is certainly possible to also use a running sinker as a whiting rig.
While whiting do take lures most people choose a bait such as pipis, mussels, sandworms and even chicken. Whiting will also take small baitfish, small fillets of fish as well as squid tentacles and even chicken breast if prepared properly.
There’s no best bream fishing rig for bait fishing Australian Bream species. However, there are several good rigs that will help you catch bream. The first is the classic running sinker. This rig is capable of targeting both flathead and mullet. I recommend a hook a size 2 hook with a 14g sinker. With bream, it is important to keep your rig as light as possible. Bream are easily spooked. Bream can also be targetted on paternoster rigs. These rigs are also multi-species.
If using soft plastic lures then I recommend a 1/40oz jighead. Keep it as light as possible. The Cranka Crab soft plastic lure is used with great effect when targetting black bream in Australia. This lifelike soft plastic lure comes pre-weighted with the hooks already set. As Bream tend to go for crabs claws first the hooks are set into the claws. The claws are buoyant so they wave in the water, just like a real crab.
Gummy sharks are not considered dangerous to humans. Though an injury may come accidentally from the shark thrashing on the deck of a boat or kayak even this is rarely an issue. The shark lacks the dangerous teeth of other sharks species. The humble gummy shark is the species most often used in Fish and Chips in Australia. Often known as “flake.”
The flesh is tender and tasty. Making it a highly prized table fish.
One of the most popular baits for carp is corn kernels. Placing corn kernels directly on your hook works extremely well. Also, a can of creamed corn can make an excellent berley when fishing for carp using corn.
Other effective baits include earthworms, scrubworms and even chicken breast. I have successfully use Gulp Sandworm* lures on a hook fishing for carp.
Berley is a word used in countries, such as Australia, to describe using items to attract fish. In the USA it is usually called “chum.”
Berley can be as simple as breadcrumbs, cut-up fish pieces, chicken pellet food, cat food and a whole range of additives. As well as fish oils such as tuna. many people add salt, garlic, aniseed and other ingredients.
In Australia a Flathead fish refers to a saltwater bottom dwelling species highly sought after by anglers. In the Unites States it refers to a different freshwater species – the Flathead Catfish. Sometimes the Flathead Gudgeon, another freshwater fish, is referred to as a “flathead” too.