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Williamstown, located on Port Phillip Bay right near the mouth of the Yarra River.
It offers a wealth of piers and fishing opportunities right next door to the heart of Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, Australia.
Williamstown Pier, Anne Street Pier and Gem Pier fishing see species such as Pinkie Snapper, Snapper and Flathead right in close to the city. Not to mention the Bream and barracouta.
Upstream from the mouth of the Yarra River, the Maribyrnong River flows into the Yarra. This provides a significant estuary with excellent flows and a variety of fish species – including mulloway.
As Williamstown is partially composed of industrial and marine industries some areas, particularly the naval dockyard area.
Williamstown pier is a great fishing spot for people in the west or inner city, but I find it’s not that near me to make it a personal favourite. Having said that – don’t let my northeastern suburbs location put you off because a lot of folks fish the area with great success!
There are boat ramps facilities at Williamstown, some great piers, nice beaches and plenty of spots to launch a Yak for Kayak fishing.
The protection provided by Hobson’s Bay makes boating and kayak fishing relatively protected and safer than more exposed spots.
So much so it’s not uncommon to see several kayaks out around the anchored boats, paddling or peddling around, pulling in flathead.
Ferguson Street Pier, being close to the city of Melbourne, means it can get crowded – especially weekends. However, during the week and cooler weather, it can be a great spot.
You’ll see a lot of kids targeting mullet at times. But don’t be fooled by that. Some sizeable snapper and even gummy sharks are caught from this pier.
Squid and garfish fishos are often seen, too. Along with bream, flathead and even schools of Australian Salmon from time to time.
I’d recommend no more than a 9foot spinning rod. Keep your mainline and leader a little lighter – no more than 10lb in my opinion – perhaps with a slightly heavier leader for some species.
As far as baits go – Port Phillip Bay staples like Pillies (pilchards), squid and even chicken are common choices. While including prawns, fresh or frozen, always makes sense.
I’d choose either a paternosterPaternoster Rig or a running sinkerRunning Sinker rig when fishing Ferguson Street Pier. I’d tend to keep the hook size down, too. A smaller flathead or a whiting rig would be ideal.
With soft plasticsSoft Plastic Lure , paddletails are a common choice. Accounting for some nice flathead fairly regularly. My choice would be a motor oil colour. These seem to work well in so many spots around Melbourne.
As always I can’t emphasise the use of berleyBerley highly enough. Enough to attract the fish to you, reducing casting distances as a result.
Note that only two fishing lines are permitted per angler.
Gem Pier gets pretty busy. I’d look at fishing weekdays and evenings or early mornings.
Over weekends and public holidays, it’s really too busy for my taste. A lot of 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., Flathead and Bream get reported as caught from the pier at times. Often on pilchards and prawns.
But I’ve seen some effective use of soft plasticsSoft Plastic Lure for Flathead, too.
Some fisho’s claiming it tends to get more bites than when fishing Altona Pier. But in my own experience, this hasn’t been the case.
I tend to find it a bit busy quite often. There’s a lot of shipping traffic, at times the navy births here.
In terms of bait. The most common bay baits seem to work well. PippisPippis , squid, pilchards, whitebait, sandworms, chicken and of course prawns.
I’d recommend keeping the hook size down and the lines lightweight. Some of the smaller flathead and whiting rigs sold commercially would be a good fit.
Paddletail soft plastics perform well on flathead and pinkies.
Keep your rods on the shorter side. I wouldn’t consider anything over a 9-foot spinning rod in length. Paired with a 300 spinning reel would see you about right.
If fishing bait, in my opinion, you can’t go too far wrong with a nice lightweight paternoster rigPaternoster Rig .
This should keep your bait above the weeds and debris at the bottom. While giving you the chance of trying out bait cocktails to see which works. Eg: One bait on one hook, another kind on the other.
Finally – I’d definitely use berleyBerley – mostly because it works, but also because other anglers rarely do. It can make the difference between landing a fish and random nibbles.
It’s considered to be one of the finest spots for fishing in Melbourne, by many.
While it’s technically in the suburb of Newport I’ve included here under Williamstown. That’s because of the proximity to the boat ramp.
I’d rate it a 5-star fishing spot because it certainly produces a lot of fish. But I decided one star purely because of the pollution levels. While considered safe to eat for the most part there are EPA recommendations on how much. This is due to heavy metals and other toxins pumped out by industry historically – and more recently some severe, illegal spills in the waterways feeding the Yarra/Maribyrnong system.
Essentially the power station pumps warm water, used to drive it’s turbines, into the channel.
This warmer water rises from as low as nine degrees C to 22 degrees C – and unsurprisingly is favoured by fish.
There’s a large carpark, public toilets, parkland and BBQ facilities. It’s pretty well serviced. It can also get incredibly overcrowded at times. So it’s important to be respectful of other anglers. Take care not to cast over lines already out there and crowd other folks out.
Bream, Mullet and the mighty Mulloway can be caught all year round. Snapper and flathead moving in during Spring and Summer.
During the Winter and Spring Australian Salmon and Tailor can be caught. Some of the best times to fish are when the smokestack is operating at the power station. That’s when the warmer water is flowing into the channel. Fishing at night is best if you’re targeting Mulloway.
Fish the tide changes in general as this channel is pretty much devoid of fish-friendly structure.
Baits and lures are varied here. Hardbody spinning, soft plasticsSoft Plastic Lure , frozen baits like Pippi, squid head, squid tentacles, whitebait, pilchards, sandworms, prawns and Bass yabbiesYabby The "yabby" is an Australian freshwater crustacean, similar to the "crawdad" found in the United States.
They are actually very good eating when prepared properly, while making an excellent bait for native and introduced species such as Murray Cod, Yellowbelly, Redfin etc.
The most productive method of catching yabbies is via a net, available from tackle stores. In recent years the "opera house net" has been banned in some states (including Victoria) due to their design being a drowning trap for turtles and platypus. Approved nets protect these creatures from becoming trapped while allowing yabbies to remain in the net. are popular choices.
From time to time some pretty impressive Mulloway and Snapper are taken at the Warmies.
Williamstown Boat Ramp is one of the better boat ramps in Melbourne, being relatively new.
It can get pretty busy at times, so it pays to be early. In fact – you can expect a queue of cars and trailers on weekends and public holidays from late spring through to early autumn.
This is the “snapper season.” The ramp can become very slow – peak hour traffic jam kind of slow. Tempers do flare – “ramp rage” really is a thing. Sadly.
Don’t forget – you need to be aware of the shipping channel and watercraft – both boats and ships. Taking appropriate precautions is a must. Big ships take a lot longer to turn around. So they have “right of way” by virtue of their sheer size.
One excellent aspect of this boat ramp as a launching place is its proximity into the Yarra and indeed Marrybinong estuaries. You can navigate smaller craft all the way up to Flemington Racecourse on the Marrybinong. While most recreational sized craft should manage to reach Princess Bridge or even Swan St Bridge via the Yarra River.
Of course, access to Hobson’s Bay (withing Port Phillip Bay) and the wider PPB area is the goal of most folks using Williamstown boat ramp.
This would not be my choice for launching craft like kayaks. There’s plenty of beaches towards Altona and at Williamstown itself that will be less stressful, accessible and work just as well for you.
Facilities such as toilets, cleaning etc are available. Though when I’ve been there their cleanliness has been less than stellar.
A selection of videos featuring local anglers using different techniques to catch fish at The Warmies