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Portarlington Pier is a great, comfortable pier to fish.
Good water depth. A nice reef just off the far end.
Portarlington is located just on the within Corio Bay, which is a part of Port Phillip Bay and not that far from Port Phillip Heads.
It can be busy during the summer months when the tourists are in town.
But it’s quieter in the off-peak periods and quite productive.
Portarlington Pier supports a local commercial fish industry, too. So early morning and early evening tend to be a time where the pro’s load and unload their vessels. This can mean 4wd’s and refrigerated trucks moving up and down the pier for a little while. They’re great people doing their job, so respect them and give them room. Especially if you have the kids with you.
On several occasions, I’ve seen the waters at Portarlington go from glass like calm to huge squalls – and back again within a few hours.
This seems to be related to its location on Port Phillip Bay. The offshore Bass Strait winds from the south and strong northerlies blowing across the bay from the north play a role.
It’s worth keeping an eye on weather conditions, but that’s the case for most Victorian coastal areas, particularly our larger bays.
Portarlington fish species, in general, include flathead, pinky snapperPinky Snapper The name "Pinky Snapper" refers to the immature Snapper. Their skin colour is different from adults (its pinker.)
Adulthood is usually considered on fish greater than 40cm - or in the 1.5 to 2kg - range, with a darker red colouration. and snapper. Garfish, Australian Salmon, whiting and squid.
I strongly recommend using a berleyBerley bucket or distributor. Failing that a good quality fish attractant. This goes for both frozen, live bait, hard lures and soft plasticsSoft Plastic Lure . This advice applies to all saltwater fishing – not just Portarlington Pier.
As always, try to berley with the kind of bait you’re fishing with. So if you’re using blue bait or tuna then an oil fish berley is right. Same goes for prawns etc. The attractants tend to be a little more generic. So they fit well with whatever you’ve got. Be liberal, but don’t overdo it either.
On the pier, a regular 7 to 9-foot spinning rod is about right.
On the beach, a 10 to 12-foot beach rod will get you out into flathead or “lizard” territory.
I recommend a paternoster rigPaternoster Rig on Portarlington Pier, while either a paternosterPaternoster Rig or running sinkerRunning Sinker on the beach.
In light conditions fish with a lighter sinker. Even on the beach. You’ll need a little more led if it’s choppy
Portarlington Rock Wall forms a safe harbour for boats and adjoins the Portarlington pier.
The Rock Wall has added a new dimension to fishing in Portarlington. It’s now possible to move beyond the pier and cast out into much deeper water and offshore reefs.
While once the pier structure was the best fishing I’d have to say my recent experiences suggest the Rockwall offers a wider variety of species and catches.
These include the flathead, trevally, pinky snapperPinky Snapper The name "Pinky Snapper" refers to the immature Snapper. Their skin colour is different from adults (its pinker.)
Adulthood is usually considered on fish greater than 40cm - or in the 1.5 to 2kg - range, with a darker red colouration., squid, Australian Salmon and many more.
The easiest access to the Portarlington Rock Wall is via the pier. Though the southern wall can also be accessed directly by land.
While the pier tended to get crowded fast the Rock Wall is large enough to cater for a larger number of anglers.
I recommend a paternoster rigPaternoster Rig here. Though a running sinkerRunning Sinker will certainly work. Definitely use that berleyBerley , too!
Bait wise – the usual saltwater baits including pilchards, prawns, whitebait, pippies, squid and of course chicken.
Soft plasticsSoft Plastic Lure seem to work well, with paddletails being a popular choice. I’ve seen motor oil colours work well, but also the Nuclear Chicken colours can be effective here too.
My choice of rods on the rock wall would be a minimum of 8 to 9-feet with a preference for something at least 10 to 12-feet long. This will give you some casting distance, getting you out into deeper water and the reefs.
I wouldn’t fish with heavier than a 15lb mainline, personally. 10lb would be my lower limit. In terms of leader, anything over 15lb’s should be fine.
The Portarlington Caravan Park beach is just in front of the park. I recommend at and after dusk and then before and just after dawn can be great for flathead.
Rig either a paternosterPaternoster Rig or running sinkerRunning Sinker . Use a beach rod – 10 or more – to get out of the shallows.
Some pretty decent flathead are taken off this area each year.
Sometimes by campers located inside the caravan park – on the beach in front of them.
This is a great spot to introduce the kids to some evening flathead fishing from the beach.
You might like to read my How To Catch Flathead guide for some tips and hints about this awesome table fish.
While camping here on several occasions I’ve reeled in flatties from the beach – right in front of the tent. As have other fisho’s I’ve seen who’ve stayed there.
Seriously – you can’t ask much better than that!
Best times are before and just after dawn and the hours during and just after sunset.
The caravan park is well equipped with ample powered and unpowered sites. There’s a camp kitchen that’s well-appointed too. The all-important toilet blocks have always been spotless and well maintained.
One note. If camping with a tent or annexe directly in front of the beach please do be wary of sudden squalls!
Holding a large tent’s awning extension down by hand with the missus was an experience I’m not likely to want to repeat.
I’ve stayed in a tent and rented one of their cabins. I highly recommend this park for a night or more. It puts you in the centre for a variety of fishing action.
The Point Richards Boat Ramp Portarlington is located just outside of Corio Bay, directly onto Port Phillip Bay.
While now free to use, sadly like so many other Victorian Boat ramps, Point Richards boat ramp could use some TLC.
On my last visit, one lane was only usable with a four-wheel drive, while the other was choked with washed-up seaweed that looked as if it’d been there for months.
In terms of access, once launched, you’re on the cusp of Corio Bay, within Port Phillip. There’s plenty of flathead, pinkiesPinky Snapper The name "Pinky Snapper" refers to the immature Snapper. Their skin colour is different from adults (its pinker.)
Adulthood is usually considered on fish greater than 40cm - or in the 1.5 to 2kg - range, with a darker red colouration. and snapper action to be had. As well as calamari, Australian Salmon, Trevally and even gummy sharks.
Keep an eye out for the big container ships and tankers coming out of the Geelong port system. They are too big to move out of your way and to darn big to “slam on the brakes.”
I don’t recommend fishing off boat ramps unless a designated area is available. Give the boaties some room. Beyond basic courtesy, they do pay their boat & trailer registrations after all!
The beach area adjoining the boat ramp, however, is fine for shore-based fishing.
Use a beach rod or surf to get out from the shallows.
Keep lines reasonably light.
Choose a sinker according to conditions.
Just enough to keep it down on the bottom without to much drift.
Either a running sinkerRunning Sinker or a paternosterPaternoster Rig will work just fine here. Don’t forget berleyBerley . Either use a berley cageBerley in place of a sinker – or a berley bucket staked out with a rope and left to wash around in the surf.
The Portarlington Holiday Park Boat Ramp is provided for the caravan and camping patrons.
I’ve not personally launched from this ramp. However, reports from those who have indicated it’s generally in pretty good condition. My last inspection, October 2019, showed it to be nice for 4wd’s but risky for 2wd vehicles. This is due to the sand build-up on the ramp. So I’d advise caution.
Like most bayside ramps it can get a bit of build-up from washed-up weed and sand. Watch the back tyres for slipping at low tide. This is why I tend to lean towards recommending it to 4WD users. Especially with heavier boats.
Generally, I carry a bag of kitty litter with me when launching a boat. It gives my back tyres something to grab if conditions on the ramp warrant it. It’s a cheap, simple and environmentally harmless solution. Just be sure you buy the fired clay varieties as the newspaper recycled kind isn’t going to work.
On my inspection of this ramp, the kitty litter trick wouldn’t have worked. To much sand and weed for my RWD Ford Falcon. Particularly at low tide. I’d not attempt an FWD on this ramp at all.
Given the amount of available beach that’s close by and away from the boaties I recommend choosing another spot for shore-based.
Crowding out boaties is unnecessary, unfair and dangerous to them, you and other members of the public.
Courtesy and consideration will always go to improve our hobby.
To the north and south of the boat ramp are ample clean and clear beaches for casting from the shore.