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Paddling on Hobsons Bay
  |  First Published: June 2016



Hobsons Bay is located within a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s CBD, at the northern point of Port Phillip Bay and at the entrance to the Yarra River. Home to an abundance of piers, pontoons, pylons, wharfs, rock walls and marinas the area is laden with fish holding, man-made structure. A perfect location for kayak anglers with plenty of tight spots that their chosen craft will navigate with ease.

Access

The Warmies boat ramp located off The Strand in Newport and is only a short paddle from Hobsons Bay. The facilities at Warmies are excellent with a dual lane ramp, floating pontoons, parking for trailers and public toilets. Please note that if you trail your kayak, you will be required to pay a 24-hour parking charge of $17.

There are many other launch options littered around the Williamstown/Newport/Port Melbourne area, however many are private and can only be used if arrangements are made individually.

Once on the water there are several areas, mainly shipping ports that have restricted access. These areas are clearly signed and anglers will face substantial fines if caught fishing within a restricted zone.

The fishing

Hobsons Bay has a mix of species available and all within a relatively short paddle from the ramp at Williamstown. The main piscatorial attraction in the area for the majority has always been snapper, although I’m regularly drawn to the location to target bream. The challenge of first finding them in all that structure and then trying to extract them using light tackle always has me coming back for more.

Many other species are on offer in the area including whiting, flathead, mullet and salmon as well as the ever elusive mulloway that show themselves from time to time.

When targeting fish holding in structure, casting lures is definitely the way to go. The lures you choose and the manner in which you work them is largely dependant on the type of structure you are fishing.Boat hulls are plentiful in the Hobsons Bay area and are a great place to target fish. Bream in particular enjoy taking cover under moored boats.

Look for boats that have a thick cover of growth on the hull, the thicker the better, as this provides the fish with a source of food as well as cover. I usually cast sinking lures in tight at the edge of the boat hulls, and as the lure sinks I watch the line closely, as often the bites will be very subtle and hard to feel.

Once on the bottom, I pause the before employing some small hops. Current and wind can be used to your advantage in this situation, and the further you can get that lure under the hull, the more likely it is to be hit. Position the kayak on the shady side of the boat hull and put multiple casts in along the whole length of the hull for your best chance of tangling with a bream.

Jetties, wharfs, docks and marinas are also prolific in the Hobsons Bay area and they are all held up by pylons. Similarly to boat hulls, pylons provide a surface for mussels to grow, a favourite food source of many estuary species. Again, sinking lures cast in close to the pylons are extremely deadly. It is important to let your lure fall as naturally as possible, so keep your bail arm open and feed line to the lure as it drops.

Again, watch your line closely for any indication that a fish has decided to take your offering then load up the rod and pray that you can get it out of cover. The kayak’s size can be used as an advantage here, and I often paddle underneath wharfs to allow me to access to pylons that boat or even land-based anglers can only dream of fishing.

Man-made rock walls are another feature of the area that are always worth a look. Bait love rock walls as it provides them with heaps of little nooks and crannies in which to shelter from predatory fish. Diving hardbodied lures get great results when fishing the walls. For you best chance on the walls, position your kayak so it’s facing into the current and cast parallel to the banks. Use a twitch pause retrieve to tempt a hungry bream or salmon into a strike. Snapper can often be found cruising the rock walls in search of bait, so throwing minnow or worm style plastics will often result in a great feed of snapper fillets for the table.

The list of fishing options in Hobsons bay isn’t just limited to those mentioned above. The bay is home to a number of shallow water reefs, sand flats, drop offs, deeper channels and weed beds which can all hold fish at different times of the year.

Due to the many different species on offer in the Hobsons Bay area, there are options the whole year around. Australian Salmon, mullet and whiting can be caught all year round. Bream are best targeted during the warmer months when they are actively feeding higher in the water column.

Moving into winter, the elusive mulloway chase schools of bait into the area.

The spring months is all about snapper here in Victoria and Hobsons Bay is no different.

As always make sure you are wearing your PFD and have either a manuel bailer or bilge pump installed in your kayak as required by law in Victoria. Safety concerns aren’t just limited to your gear when fishing in this area. Hobsons Bay lies at the entrance to Australia’s busiest container port. Needless to say that kayak anglers need to be mindful when moving around the bay to ensure they stay well away from any large ships and their wake.

The bay is also busy with both recreational and commercial boat traffic, so taking measures to make sure you can be easily seen is well advised.

Get on down to Hobsons Bay and you too can experience some kayak fishing options only a stone’s throw from Melbourne’s CBD.

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