Barwon River Estuary
The Barwon River estuary enters Bass Strait about 10 km west of Port Phillip Heads and it divides the holiday towns of Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove. This estuary is one of the most productive waterways in Victoria and can produce a wide range of species, including silver trevally, King George whiting, mullet, salmon, flathead, luderick, elephant fish, pike and black bream.
The estuary has a solid reputation as trophy fish water due to the number of big mulloway.
Reports of mulloway from the river seem to come just about every month, but the best fishing in terms of numbers is November–February and March–July for the bigger fish. Mulloway are caught from Lake Connewarre downstream to the mouth. A popular area is known as the Thunderbolt, about 500 m downstream from the lake on the west bank. This is best fished from a boat. From the Thunderbolt downstream to the Sheepwash, at the end of Sheepwash Rd on the outskirts of Barwon Heads, the river has a deep channel that for the most part is close to the western bank. There are wide stretches of river between the Thunderbolt and the Sheepwash, and on the eastern bank several large drains feed water off the mangrove swamp. The entrances to these drains are natural feeding zones worth fishing as the tide is falling.
You can walk a long way upstream from the Sheepwash and find clear areas where the river channel hugs the bank. A boardwalk with landings for anglers to fish from has been installed several hundred metres upstream from Barwon Heads boat ramp. This will suit anglers with disabilities or people who simply prefer not to fish in mud or mangroves.
The boat ramp marks the end of land-based access to the river on the west side, as it becomes mangrove swamp, ideal for anglers with boats. The mangrove-lined inlets upstream of the Ocean Grove boat ramp hold reasonable bream and luderick. Sandworms combined with berley do well on the bream while weed or abalone gut is choice bait for luderick.
On the opposite side of the river is the Ocean Grove ramp, which is at the top of the broadwater that starts at the highway bridge. The floating boat-mooring jetty is popular with anglers, and some excellent hook- ups have been made from here.
Downstream of the ramp the river channel is clearly marked and when the mulloway are running it is common to see boats spread along the channel all the way to the mouth.
The ‘Ozone’ jetty on the Barwon Heads side above the highway bridge, and fishermen’s pier below the bridge are worthwhile. The bridge has landings for anglers, and sometimes you can see mulloway on low tide at night, under the bridge lights. Anglers fishing from the beach on the eastern side of the river catch salmon, silver trevally, mullet and King George whiting and sometimes mulloway.
Sometimes good schools of Australian salmon can be caught on small chrome lures. On slack water, and with the help of berley, mullet and salmon can be brought up the water column.
Nearby Fishing Spots
If you want big mulloway, start with a minimum 10 kg outfit. Do not use wire; instead get some heavy monofilament of about 30 kg minimum. Hook sizes vary to suit the size of the bait, but most anglers start at about 4/0, with 6/0 a standard among many specialists. Choice baits are squid, bass yabbies and live salmon, mullet or tailor, which are fished either under a float or off the bottom on a running paternoster sinker rig.
For whiting, bream and other smaller species, use a paternoster rig with No. 4–6 hooks.