About the listing
The saltwater angler is well catered for in Port Fairy with river fishing (Moyne), surf fishing (East beach) and boating (Port Fairy Bay) all readily accessible. Slightly further afield, similar options are also available at Warrnambool, Killarney and Yambuk Lake.
There are boat ramps at Port Fairy, Killarney and Yambuk Lake, with the last suitable for very small boats only. Freshwater fishing is less readily available, however, the upstream sections of both the Hopkins and Merri Rivers (at Warrnambool) do provide some excellent freshwater fishing.
Some of the marine species to be found in the Port Fairy area are:
Barracouta Likely to be found when boat fishing in Port Fairy Bay, or deeper off-shore, with winter and spring normally the better fishing months. On the odd occasion this fish will enter the Moyne River penetrating from the mouth to about Martin’s Point. Will take virtually all of the commercial saltwater baits (especially bluebait and pilchards). The use of the wire trace is essential and often fished for under a float or by using unweighted lines and allowing the bait to sink of its own accord. Will also take flashing artificial lures either cast or trolled. Care must be maintained in handling due to the nature and sharpness of their teeth.
Bream (Black) Reasonably specialised fishing as the best results often rely on being able to obtain and use live saltwater baits. These include shrimps, all types of saltwater worms and yabbies. In the Moyne River, the best fishing is generally to be found upstream of the footbridge and back as far as Rosebrook. Light (fine) line is needed and if sinker weight is used it should be free running on the line (running sinker rig). Fishing as light as is possible in sinker weight is also recommended.
Flathead Most catches are taken from boats either drifting or anchored on the sand flats in Port Fairy Bay, or deeper off-shore. In deep water they may be caught year round, but the warmer months are normally the best as the fish tend to move closer inshore. For the shore angler, a worthwhile fish is occasionally taken seawards from or near the entrance to the Moyne. Flathead will virtually take all of the commercial baits with whitebait, bluebait, pilchard pieces and squid among the best. Numerous small undersized flathead, of nuisance value only, are sometimes found within the lower section of the Moyne.
Garfish Port Fairy often has a separate run of these fish in winter and summer. The ocean pools, for example pea soup, stretching from the lighthouse along the South Beach coast are good places to try. Fishing requires the use of fine lines, small long-shanked hooks and small baits. Some of the better baits include sand fleas, saltwater worms and cut pieces of pipi. Often fished for under a float, and, if possible, the use of berley to attract fish is recommended.
Gurnard (Latchet) Not specifically fished for but sometimes caught in other fishing, especially when flathead fishing in Port Fairy Bay, or deeper off-shore. Not a nice fish, possessing numerous poisonous spines. If caught, recommend not handling but cutting free and re-tying another hook.
Mullet (Yellow Eye) May be caught throughout all the saltwater section of the Moyne and also in the surf along East Beach. Caught the year round but normally fishing is at its best during winter and spring. Fishing requires fine lines, small hooks and a rig whereby hooks are placed on two small leads above a fixed sinker. Some of the better baits include saltwater worms, cut pipi or small pieces of filleted pilchard.
Mulloway Not a fish that seems to be found in large numbers in the Moyne system but is certainly there from time to time. Very specialised fishing and unless fortunate, often requiring long hours and plenty of patience. For the true enthusiast, the Glenelg River at Nelson is a better proposition.
Parrot Fish Caught anywhere where there are kelp or weed beds. Often caught by boat anglers fishing close to shore for other species or by shore based anglers. Not a highly recommended fish but edible.
Rock Cod Not a fish that is generally fished for, but often incidental in other catches. Likely to be caught in most areas including Port Fairy Bay, the lower section towards and at the mouth of the Moyne, and on the odd occasion in the surf zone. It is particularly prevalent during the winter months, especially at night. Not a highly recommended fish but edible. Will take virtually all commercial and other baits.
Salmon (Australian) A fish that is found in all areas of the bay, river and surf. It is the fish attracting most anglers to surf fishing. It is available year round but most common in winter and spring. Not a fussy eater and will take all commercial baits with bluebait, whitebait and pilchards being some of the best. Salmon will also take cast or trolled lures or saltwater flies. When surf fishing, two separate hooks on small leads above a fixed sinker is the most popular rig.
Tommy Rough A small fish related to - and often mistaken for - the Australian Salmon. Requires fine lines and small hooks and will take small pieces of most commercial baits. Found in both Port Fairy Bay and the lower section of the Moyne River.
Trevally (Silver) Sometimes caught by boat anglers when fishing Port Fairy Bay for King George Whiting and Snapper. Often moves into the Moyne River, especially when the water is dirty following rains. Available year round but normally at its best during winter and spring. Will virtually take all commercial baits with fresh whitebait the best.
Snapper May be caught for most of the year in deep water off-shore. Moves in closer to shore during the warmer months with late spring to the close of autumn being the time to fish for them in Port Fairy Bay. As with most of the species, the times around dawn and dusk are often the best. For the shore angler, somewhere around the entrance of the Moyne River is best. Snapper aren’t fussy eaters and will take all the commercial baits.
Sweep A fish that is caught mainly by boat anglers fishing close to shore over reefy ground - not sand - and often adjacent to, or right alongside, the surf zone. Due to the location of this fishing it can be highly dangerous and should only be undertaken when the prevailing sea conditions allow for fishing to be undertaken safely. Sweep will take soft baits with pieces of saltwater yabbies, pipi or mussel being examples.
Whiting (King George) A popular and highly sought after species. May be caught the year round but certainly the better chances occur in the late spring to close of autumn period. Whiting are normally caught reasonably close to shore and the sand holes either surrounding by or adjacent to kelp and weed beds are prime spots to try. Port Fairy Bay is a good idea for anglers in boats, while the shore angler may try seawards from or near the entrance to the Moyne River. Other places to try are the river itself, often moving down to about Martin’s Point and the rock pools situated along South Beach. Also, Killarney Beach is a renowned hot spot both for small boat and shore angling. Best baits include pipi, saltwater yabbies and worms or strips of pilchard and squid.
Whiting (Sand) A smaller relation of the more popular King George Whiting and mainly caught from late spring through to the close of autumn. Caught in Port Fairy and often numerous in the lower section of the Moyne River. Small hooks are needed and good baits include pipi, saltwater worms and small pieces of filleted pilchards.
Yellowtail Kingfish Highly specialized fishing, requiring heavy lines and powerful gear. Mainly caught by boat anglers trolling lures or jigs close in to shore alongside the rocky sections of the coastline. Fish presence generally starts early in the new year and may then continue for up to three months.
Government Regulations and Licenses
Unless exempt, all recreational anglers must have a current license to cover the times when they fish. Size and bag limits also apply to many fish species, and these are fully explained in the booklet, “Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide”. This is supplied on purchasing a license or is available free of charge from either the Warrnambool Office of the Department of Sustainability and Environment, The Port Fairy & Region Visitor Information Centre or from sports stores and some garages.
General All anglers are encouraged to develop a code of conduct whereby they return undersized or unwanted fish to the water with a sound degree of care and ensure that litter resulting from their fishing activity is either binned or removed.
A large sign detailing fish species is located at Martin's Point.
Port Fairy Angling Club
The premises are situated in Gipps St right alongside the Moyne River. It is often available to the public for accommodation rental purposes. Any person interested in angling and keen to fish the Port Fairy area on an ongoing basis would be most welcome to join the club. Membership is available for only a small annual fee and the club holds a monthly fishing competition together with a number of social activities throughout the year.
Thanks to Russell Allardice of the Port Fairy Angling Club for these fishing notes.