It has to be said that the only thing warm about the Warmies is the water coming out of the power station. While standing on the rock wall fishing, the wind can blow through you like the Queen of the Netherlands dredger through protest boats on Port Phillip Bay. That said, for the land-based angler, the fishing can be hot. And the species you could encounter include anything from the humble bream through to sizeable mulloway.
Growing up in the southeastern suburbs, I had often heard about the Warmies but I never made the trip to the other side of the Yarra to check it out for myself. I’ve no excuse these days: I now call Newport home, with the Warmies literally on my doorstep.
If you feel most at home in the solitude of a mountain trout stream, as I used to, then you may find the Warmies a bit out of your comfort zone. It is a popular place with anglers, so try not to be too disappointed if little Johnny casts across you and the three fishers beside you: we all have to learn somewhere. Despite this, the fish don’t seem to mind. Perseverance and patience will catch you a lot of fish at the Warmies, but there are also a couple of other things that will help you along.
The Warmies is located on the western side of the West Gate Bridge on the Yarra River at Newport. It was formed as the outlet for the Newport power station, and the boat ramp at the Warmies is one of the better ones in the northern part of the Bay.
If you’re too young to drive, the closest train station is Newport, and from there it takes about 20 minutes by foot down North Road. If you’re in the car, there’s limited car parking at the boat ramp, but plenty of parking nearby along the river.
There are lots of species on offer at the Warmies, including salmon, tailor, mulloway, snapper, flathead, mullet, bream and trevally. Like all sceptical anglers, I like to base my fishing experiences on what I have actually caught, or seen caught.
With almost all of my fishing at the Warmies involving soft plastics, hardbodied lures or fly over a fairly intense 12 months of fishing, by far the most common catches for me have been salmon and tailor. I have also caught some nice bream and flathead, and had a couple of break-offs, which may have been mulloway. There are lots of small bream on offer, with the odd bigger one. Bait fishers can expect to catch quite a few.
At the right times, there can be plenty of pinky snapper around and some more serious specimens are caught from time to time. I have seen more snapper come from the main Yarra channel opposite the Warmies, than in the Warmies itself. Fishing the main channel requires slightly heavier gear and longer rods that cast further, and you will inevitably lose rigs through snagging on the rocky bottom.
I like to separate the Warmies into three fishing areas. These include upstream of the Warmies boat ramp towards the power station outlet, downstream of the boat ramp, and the main Yarra River channel, which is literally next to the Warmies channel.
The prime fishing area if the power station is running is usually between the boat ramp and the outlet. This stretch can also be the most crowded, but can provide some non-stop fishing action. Luckily for me, I can look out my dining room window to see if there is steam coming from the top of the unmistakable Warmies stack. “If the stack’s blowing...I know where I’m going!”
I must admit, I do feel less enthusiastic about fishing the Warmies if the power station is not on. However, this is when I go with my second fishing option along the extended rock wall on the western side from the boat ramp to the end of the rock wall. This is a distance of about 500m and I have caught some excellent tailor and larger flathead along this part of the rock wall.
If you’re lure fishing and you like to remain mobile, you may need to fish around a number of bait fishers along this stretch. I like to give people a wide berth as I make my way along the wall. On a trout stream if someone was just within casting range, I would consider him or her way too close but, at the Warmies, this is the equivalent of being on the next river!
The third option is fishing the main Yarra River channel. I don’t do this often, but I think the best time to fish the main channel is over the summer when the snapper are around. Those fishers that do well here use long rods and cast well into the main channel, often catching pinky snapper. There is significantly less activity here during the winter, and you are usually better off in the Warmies channel at this time.
There are so many different estuary species on offer at the Warmies that you can use a multitude of approaches with success. I like to fish with lures, and my standard outfit is a short flick stick with a 2500 Shimano reel spooled with 6lb Fireline. I use 8-12lb fluorocarbon leaders, which seems to give me the best overall catch rate without sacrificing too much by spooking the more timid fish. You can only get broken off so many times before you start getting serious!
My favourite soft plastic for the Warmies is a 6” Gulp Sandworm in camo colour. Because of the number of small bream that love to chew the tails off my Sandworms (and the odd toad fish), I frequently use a small stinger hook in the tail of the sandworm, connected with a short length of 8-12lb mono to the main hook. This method is very successful, with very few missed strikes.
Metal lures like 20g Lasers or Gillies are also very effective on the tailor and salmon, and have the benefit that they can be cast a very long way. Hardbodied diving lures will also catch these pelagic species.
Floating unweighted whitebait or pilchards pinned on ganged hooks down with the current is a proactive way to baitfish if there is room. If baitfishing, light to medium surf gear with 15-20lb line would not be overdoing it if you are targeting the bigger species like snapper and mulloway.
As with all fishing gear, buy the best you can afford. I vividly remember observing one poor fisherman who hooked a serious fish at the Warmies, most likely a mulloway, which peeled line in a very erratic way from a cheap reel before breaking him off. That was probably the fish of his lifetime, lost due to a poor quality drag on his reel.
There is no doubt that the Warmies is a first class land-based fishing destination. I hope that you enjoy fishing it as much as I do. Perhaps for me the one thing I find most disappointing about fishing the Warmies is the amount of litter along the rock walls.
In fairness, some of it probably washes down from the upper reaches of the Yarra catchment, but there is no doubt that some of it is left by anglers. Enjoy fishing at this wonderful destination, but please also take your litter home with you so that we can all enjoy fishing the Warmies for years to come.
CLOSEST BAIT AND TACKLE
Newport Bait and Tackle, 365 Douglas Parade, Newport 3015, Tel.: 03 9399 3066
JV Marine World, 15 Fitzgerald Road, Laverton 3026, Tel.: 03 9368 7100
It can get pretty crowded when the tailor are biting.