Situated on the edge of the Gippsland Lakes and the Bass Strait, Lakes Entrance is a mecca for Australian anglers, renowned for its great fishing all year round. From casting off the Esplanade’s many jetties to travelling across the bar to Six Mile Reef, Lakes Entrance is a fishing wonderland that should be on any angler’s bucket list.
Lakes Entrance is arguably one of the most talked-about tourist hotspots in eastern Victoria. Many Victorians are able to recall taking the pilgrimage up to this coastal town on family holidays in the past. We sure do at least.
From sitting on the main jetty, watching the boats moor as we knock back fresh fish and chips, to hitting the beach to catch some waves, Lakes Entrance makes for a great seaside escape.
But, there is one thing that draws travellers like no tomorrow – the fishing. You’d be hard-pressed to find a town that has such a huge range of fish species living in and around the Lakes area.
So, with so many great spots in the area, where are the best places to go for fishing in Lakes Entrance? We were stumped ourselves, so we decided to visit Daryl and Sandi Kate-Hutchins from Prime Tourist Park for some local fishing advice.
Peak and Off-peak Times
Before we get too carried away on where to fish in Lakes Entrance, it’s worth mentioning the tourist seasons and how they may affect you. Although Lakes Entrance is fairly busy all year-round, according to Daryl and Sandi, peak season begins mid-September and ends mid-April.
So how will this affect you?
Peak season means more people – and more people means more competition for prime fishing spots. This makes it all the more important to get up early and stake a claim on your little patch of waterside land. You may have to change your tactics when you fish too. Fishing in the night or early morning, avoiding popular spots and venturing further out are all things you may need to do to avoid the crowds.
In peak times, the jetties around the Esplanade, underneath the local bridges, around Bullock Island and along the main surf beaches of Lakes Entrance can become congested with fishos looking for their next big catch. You may need to travel further out along the waterways or further down the beach to avoid swimmers and other anglers.
Other aspects to consider when coming to Lakes Entrance in peak season with the sudden influx of people include:
- Accommodation being fully booked, so be sure to book months in advance for the best deals
- Parking around town, at the jetties and near the boat ramps being limited
- Seating at cafes, restaurants and fast food places being limited
- Popular beaches filled with swimmers and jetskis making it difficult for surf fishing
Going in off-peak season provides different challenges for fishos (mainly the rubbish weather), but you don’t have to deal with lots of people snatching up all the good spots.
Land-Based Fishing in Lakes Entrance
The cheapest and easiest way to cast your line out in Lakes Entrance is from the land. All you need is your rod, some bait, a bit of free space and some patience and you’ll be reeling in catches in no time.
Here’s our favourite fishing spots in the Lakes Entrance area.
Located off the first roundabout as you cross over the North Arm Bridge towards the township, Bullock Island is the home to a fair chunk of Lakes Entrance’s commercial fishing fleet. Parking – though limited on the Island – can be found along the unsealed road near the jetty.
Bullock Island features two main fishing spots; under the bridge to the island and the Reeve Landing Jetty.
You can get to the bridge by either parking at the North Arm Boat Ramp Car Park and walking down to the bank, or parking on Bullock Island and walking to the shore. We suggest not fishing off the bridge due to there being not much room, so sticking to the shore is a better option.
Reeve Island Jetty requires you to turn off the main road about halfway across the island and follow the unsealed road to the jetty. Keep an eye out for other road users as the S-bend in the road before the jetty is fairly narrow.
Trevally, leather jackets, flathead, whiting and estuary perch can be caught in this area, with bream and crabs being the two most common catches. Bream is commonly found underneath the bridge in the shadows and around the rocks, while crabs and Australian salmon can be caught off the jetty when in season. Hot tip – keep an eye on the local pelican population to see where the schools are located.
North Arm Land-Based Fishing
This area features jetties scattered from the Apex Park Boat Ramp up to the Lakes Entrance Recreation Reserve near Barker Street. Most jetties in the area are used to moor recreational boats, except for a few privately owned ones used by boat hire companies and local residents. Before casting your line out, check the signage to make sure you’re not trespassing on someone’s jetty.
Another popular spot is under the North Arm Bridge which has walkways underneath it on both sides. However, to access the far-side (away from the town centre), you must cross the North Arm Bridge and follow the path down to the shore.
There are roughly 10 jetties in total along this stretch of land. The most notable ones include; Apex Boat Ramp Jetty, which although primarily used to guide boats in and out of the ramp, can be fished off with great success in quieter times; North Arm Spit Jetty, which is located near a different boat ramp; and the North Arm Jetty on Barker Street.
There’s also the option to fish from the North Arm shore if the jetties are being used or are getting a bit packed. It’s fairly flat allowing for chairs to be used close to the water’s edge. However, in peak season, North Arm receives a fair bit of boat traffic which may scare many of the fish away towards the Reeve Channel or further up the arm.
Garfish, in the colder months, and estuary perch, in the warmer months, can be caught at the top end of the North Arm. Whiting and bream can also be found in many of the gutters found in the arm. Flathead is also common in warmer months in the sand towards the middle of the arm. If you’re an early riser, Australian salmon and bream are commonly caught under the North Arm Bridge around dawn too.
Lakes Entrance Esplanade Jetties
The Esplanade is the main stretch of road that runs along the south-side of the township. Here you’ll find the main shopping and dining scene along with a handful of jetties used by recreational and commercial fishing boats. Parking is plentiful in this area with a number of car parks scattered along the waterfront, with parallel parking running also running along the majority of the road.
It’s possible to fish pretty much anywhere along the waterfront. Multiple jetties are scattered along the coastline, most of which can be used by anyone to fish off. But, some of the jetties such as the main Eastern Harbour pier, requires a permit to enter and is off-limits to would-be fishos. Common places to fish in this area include; Myer Street Jetty, Post Office Jetty and the two side jetties of the Eastern Harbour.
Keep in mind that these locations will have a fair bit of boat traffic coming in and out of the area, especially in peak season, which may disturb the fish.
You can also fish anywhere along the shorefront or rockwall if the jetties are getting too crowded. That being said, be considerate of others and avoid setting up on any walkways or footpaths.
Luderick, trevally, tailor, mullet, whiting, bream and Australian salmon are common catches near the jetties, due to the shellfish and other offcuts discarded by fishing boats. Fishing close to the pylons and moored boat hulls is a common tactic used by locals to catch fish, in particular, tailor and luderick, as they come to the surface to feed and hide from the hot summer sun. The sand flats near the jetty are also popular in the early morning, with Post Office Jetty and Myer Street Jetty providing easy access to shallow areas that fish tend to hide in.
Main Beach Footbridge
Created to connect Lakes Entrance Main Beach with the rest of the township, the Main Beach Footbridge quickly fills up with hopeful fishos during peak season. There are a few ‘balconies’ sticking out from the footbridge to keep us lot off the busy walkway. Closest parking can be found only on the town-side of the bridge.
The Main Beach Footbridge spans the entire length of the Cunninghame Arm. This allows anglers to target a variety of fish anywhere along the channel. Fishing along the beach-side shore near the surf life-saving club is also worth taking a punt at.
The sandbanks around each end of the bridge have proven to be good spots when targeting flathead early in the morning before the bridge gets busy. Trevally is also common as they pass under the bridge in the mornings and night. Bream, luderick and whiting have also been caught off the bridge, although less commonly.
A stones-throw away from the centre of Lakes Entrance, Kalimna Jetty is a short drive to one of the best spots in the area. This area features a long L-shaped jetty with a medium-sized car park nearby. This area can also be accessed by parking on the nearby Hotel Road then walking down the path to the jetty.
The two main features of this area are the main jetty and the rock wall which runs on either side of it. The jetty is a popular spot all year round as many different species of fish feed in the seaweed near it. The rock wall also provides anglers with the opportunity to target fish close to the shore. However, snags can become common in windy conditions or after storms because of the increased junk in the water amongst the seaweed and rocks.
Bream, flathead and whiting are popular in the seaweed beds near the jetty and rock wall. ‘Pinkies’ (juvenile snapper) and Australian salmon have been caught off the jetty frequently too in the early mornings. Prawn fishing is also popular on ebb tides along the jetty.
Lakes Entrance Surf Fishing
Did you know that 90 Mile Beach is actually 94 miles long? Did you also know that 90 Mile Beach is one of the best surf fishing spots in Victoria? It separates the Gippsland Lakes from the Bass Strait and spans the majority of East Gippsland. Within 90 Mile Beach, smaller beaches are scattered along the area, with the two main ones in Lakes Entrance are Eastern Beach and Lakes Entrance Main Beach.
Eastern Beach is located further up the coast towards Cunninghame township. Surf fishing is fairly popular in this area as it is a fair bit quieter than the main beach. It can be accessed easily by following Eastern Beach Road, onto Hummocks which leads to the 2nd Eastern Beach Car Park. Many deep gutters can be found the closer you get to Lake Tyers Beach.
The Lakes Entrance Main Beach is far more popular for beach-goers due to its easy access from the footbridge. Surf fishos tend to either move closer to the bar or up towards Eastern Beach when the main beach becomes busier in peak season. Fishing towards the bar on the rocks can be fruitful on quiet days but can be dangerous in windy or slippery conditions.
Bringing some waders is also a good idea to get deeper into the swell but be cautious of rips near the shore.
Eastern Beach has a number of deep gutters that large Australian salmon are known for hiding in, while flathead has also been caught in the area. Gummy sharks have been regularly caught after dark, while other varieties of shark have been caught further out in the surf.
Lakes Entrance Main Beach is good for targeting fish entering and exiting the bar such as tailor and snapper in mid to late summer. Shark fishing is popular in this area too. Many big sharks have been caught in this area, so be aware of other beach patrons when reeling one in. Onlookers may get Jaws flashbacks if they see you releasing a toothy monster back into the shallows of the beach.
We’d also suggest using a float with your chosen setup to stop crabs from stealing your bait when fishing in the surf.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the catches you can target when fishing in Lakes Entrance, the surrounding Gippsland Lakes and the nearby Bass Strait. Check out our location summaries to find which areas these catches are best targeted in.
Whiting: can be caught all year-round, but most commonly in December through to May. Best baits to use include; prawns, live worms, shrimp, pipis, mussels and crab. Best way to catch them (according to locals) is to use live worms or yabbies in the dark gutters of the channel just as the tide begins to come in to target whiting.
Yelloweye Mullet: can be caught all year round, but the highest frequency of catches occurs from late winter into mid-summer. Best baits include; prawn, cockle, live worms and bread pieces on a running sinker rig.
Trevally: can be caught from mid-spring to mid-autumn using pilchard, whitebait, blue bait, local peeled prawns, soft plastics, local sandworms and squid. We’ve been told using a slack line in mid-water usually produces the goods around dusk and dawn.
Tailor: can be caught all year round, but migrate up and down the coast during the cooler months, making late spring to late autumn the best time to target them in ‘Lakes’. Being a predatory fish, most baitfish will work, but pilchard, whitebait and surface poppers seem to be the most effective.
Estuary Perch: can be caught all year round. Best baits to use include; hard body lures, soft plastics, surface lures and local live baits such as prawns and sandworms. Estuary perch can be typically found near fallen trees, rock walls, seaweed beds and jetties in the shadows.
Australian Salmon: can be caught all year round. The size you’ll be targeting will depend on where you’re catching them from and bait you’ll need to use. Metal slugs with small baitfish work well with smaller fish, while bigger Australian salmon will require large whitebait or blue bait. Metal lures in general are rumoured to work well, especially in the ocean.
Snapper: can be caught from mid-summer to late autumn. Using a mono line with fluoro leaders and a circle hook in 7/0 or 8/0 works well. Using a running sinker rig (not a paternoster), with smaller bait fish like mackerel, whiting, pilchard and arrow squid has worked wonders on the local Snapper population.
Leatherjacket: are best caught during the winter months. Blue bait, fresh peeled prawns or squid on your hook is your best bet for these. Leatherjackets are known to bite through a weak line and low-gauge hooks with their sharp teeth. Locals suggest sinking your bait just off the seabed and waiting for the bite before aggressively hooking the fish.
Morwong: commonly found from mid-winter to late summer, these can be caught by bottom fishing using prawns or squid near most offshore reef structure. Unlike other types of fish, morwong don’t tend to travel in schools, making them tricky to target specifically.
Luderick: can be caught from mid-summer to mid-winter and are commonly found in large estuary systems. Weeds, pilchard, whitebait, local prawns on a surface lure or metal spinning lure works well. Bream: can be caught all year-round, but peaks in mid-winter to late spring. Best baits include: blue bait, local prawns, crabs, local sandworms and spinning lures.
Flathead: can be caught all year round but more commonly in late spring to early summer when they migrate to warmer waters. Smaller ‘flatties’ can be found in estuaries, while larger tiger flathead can be found offshore. Soft plastics, blade lures, whitebait, spinning lures, live mullet and local prawns work best.
Garfish: can be caught from mid-winter to mid-autumn, but most commonly caught in the warmer months in depths of two to five metres. Surface lures work best or using a float with very small pieces of squid, peeled prawn, dough and pilchard.
Tuna: can be caught from late summer through to winter. Trolling hard body lures, deep diving hard body lures, metal slugs and soft plastics in a sizeable ocean current should get you a few bites. Keep an eye on seabirds to find schools of tuna easily and dark cobalt coloured water to find the ocean currents in deep water. They swim at depths of 40 to 80 metres so plan your rig accordingly.
Swordfish: is the pinnacle game fish found in the area. Catching one is definitely something you’ll want to brag to your mates back home. They can be found in the area from autumn through to late-winter at depths of around 300m to 600m. Swordfish tend to reside near the sheer drop off of the continental shelf around 80kms out from the mainland. Using a sounder and GPS to map the ocean floor is the best way to find areas that swordfish will be located in.
Bottom-dwelling fish and squid work best with swordfish. In particular arrow squid, blue grenadier and fillets of tuna have worked well in the past. The rig setup will vary from person to person. Some prefer a simplified pelagic longline like a commercial fishing boat uses, while most opt for an 80lb+ braid on a 300lb+ leader. Because you’ll be fishing at a depth of around 500m, most anglers choose a 1000m line or longer with a LED or light stick to attract fish to the bait.
But, the gear needed to reel in one of these monsters from the deep isn’t cheap. So, if you can’t afford to splash out on some fresh kit, or don’t own a boat capable of heading far off the coast, we’d suggest contacting a local fishing charter to organise a trip out.
Gummy Shark: can be caught all year round, though they peak in late summer to mid-autumn and tend to be less common in winter. In particular, the Christmas and New Years break have always been the best times to target these. Gummies tend to be found along tidal channels near the beach or near reefs and other structures. If you’re not prepared, they’ll give you a workout better than you’d have at the gym.
Preferred bait includes squid legs, eel, blue bait and salmon fillets on a bottom-feeding rig. Best time to target them is at dusk or dawn anywhere along 90 Mile Beach. Using berley when targeting them offshore is also a great tactic to attract them quickly.
Other sharks: have been caught in the area, including; mako using snapper as bait, bronze whalers, school sharks, hammerheads, elephant sharks and thresher sharks. Most sharks have been caught offshore near the reefs and oil rigs, although a few bronze whalers and threshers have been caught by surf anglers before.
Whole squid, salmon, snapper and tuna fillets are baits that tend to work on most shark species.
Marlin: can be caught when the water temperature rises in the warmer months of the year. They can be found in similar locations to swordfish – out near the continental shelf at depths of around 400m. They are possibly the rarest catch found in these waters with only a handful caught in the area ever. Trolling or drift fishing your bait through a school of baitfish is a tactic that has worked in the past.
Crabs: although seen as a nuisance by many fishos, crab fishing is becoming more and more popular in the Lakes area. They can be caught all year-round, with most success in the late afternoon. Chicken slices and ‘crab mix’ baits bought from tackle shops work well. Popular spots include Reeve Landing Jetty on Bullock Island and Kalimna Jetty.
Prawns: can be found from late spring to late autumn. They can be caught from the land or offshore. Best time is at sunset into the evening on a run-out tide using a torch to scare the little buggers into a net.
Where To Stay?
See, we told you Lakes Entrance was a fishing mecca that you’ve got to visit. The only downside? You’ll probably need more than one rushed day to hit all the good spots we talked about.
Our extremely knowledgeable local guides, Sandi and Daryl Kate-Hutchins at Prime Tourist Park are located just off the Esplanade. They have everything from cabins to powered and unpowered sites perfect for your caravan or boat trailer. Their piece of paradise is well within walking distance of many restaurants and shops and some great fishing spots.
But, the number one thing that piqued our interest about this tourist park is it being pet-friendly all year round – even the cabins! So if you are looking for somewhere to stay with your pooch when exploring the many fishing spots in the area, look no further.
When you need a break from all the fishing you’ll be doing, there are a number of other local attractions in the area. You’ll be able to find everything from paddle boat and riverboat hire, to mini golf, surfing, cruises in the lakes system and a shell museum. If you decide to explore further inland or along the coast, Buchan caves and Waterwheel Beach Tavern are top places to rest and kick your feet up.
Time to Plan Your Lakes Entrance Fishing Trip
Regardless of the time of year you decide to come up to Lakes, there will be always something to catch. Before coming though, we reckon doing some research on what fish are available at that time of year and base your plans off that. Different fish will require different rods, reels, lures and line, so best stock up beforehand on Outdoria before you head out.
If you’re looking to ditch the tourist crowds, we reckon it’s worth taking a peek at our guide to offshore fishing in Lakes Entrance for more local advice on the best places to fish out at sea.
Although we like to see ourselves as fishing gurus, we suggest using this guide as a general reference point, due to changing conditions in the Gippsland Lakes and Lakes Entrance area. We can’t always guarantee our tips and tricks will be accurate when you’re there, so best talk to one of the local fishing charters or clubs for the most up-to-date information on fishing at that time.
Good luck and happy fishing!
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