Location: Cape Bridgewater, Victoria (Fishing Guide)

24 Aug 23
If you're looking for a spot where you can fish in any conditions, catch a wide range of species, pull up on the beach and walk to the cafe, and all in magic scenery... you've found it! Cape Bridgewater is a large bay and cliff system west of Portland, the gateway to the expansive Discovery Bay region. It's only a small community, with wide open beaches, quiet roads and the tallest sea cliffs in Victoria. There's accomodation, walks, a beach kiosk, and it's always easy to find a spot to yourself. Options for anglers are endless, so let's see what's on offer.


Bridgewater is well regarded as the home of the barrel bluefin. Each year during autumn and winter the waters teem with redbait and other small fish; providing a huge food source for whales, seals, seabirds and of course, jumbo tuna. The Portland boat ramp becomes the busiest part of town as anglers load their boats and head west. The fish can often sit quite close to the cliffs at times; it's a matter of staying in the fishing report loop, keeping your eyes open for birds and checking the sounder for mid-water bait balls. Trolling with skirts and deep diving hardbodies is the preferred tactics, but in the last couple of seasons anglers have had success with cubes or live baits thrown into a school, or topwater stickbaiting. School sized tuna will also be common through the same areas, and the season for these is a little longer than the barrels. The continental shelf sits closer to Cape Bridgewater than just about anywhere locally; so deep dropping is another good option and there's also the chance of a mako.


When the tuna aren't on, the inshore reefs of Cape Bridgewater are a popular choice for crews looking to do a bit of bottom bashing around 70m or in closer. The bottom contours are quite steep in the area compared to Warrnambool or Port Fairy, so smaller boats can fish those deeper depths. Flathead would be the most common target dropping a couple of squid or fish baits on a paternoster (especially a flashy rig) on a small electric reel will always produce a few. You can also expect gummies, snapper, gurnard or morwong for by-catch. Squid and whiting can be found closer in, within sandy bays. There's also good sweep fishing when casting in the wash against the cliffs, you could even find a kingfish during the warmer months. 

Abalone and crayfish can also be found in numbers along the rocky cliffs, reefs and ledges; although the abalone population has taken a beating from the destructive AVG virus. With another outbreak reported nearby this month, it's very important to stay up to date with all the current rules and closures. Cape Bridgewater is closed until 30 June 2024 to abalone fishing, and closer to Portland there is also an area closed to any form of fishing until 15 November 2023. See details here.

To support the recovery of abalone stocks the area between Whites Beach and Point Danger, inclusive of Lawrence Rocks, will remain closed to all abalone fishing until 30 June 2024 . 


Bridgewater is also a great place to try for a salmon off one of the expansive local beaches. Any of them will be worth a go, but Shelley Beach and Discovery Bay near Swan Lake are two of the most popular. Casting 30-60g metals (condition dependent) or bluebait on a paternoster rig in a deep gutter is a sure way to find a few when they're around. Gummy and school sharks, as well as mulloway, also frequent some of the open beaches such as Discovery Bay. Spending an evening or night with big baits out in a gutter could put you in with a good chance at a serious fish. Rock fishing is also productive; whether it's casting lures for salmon or bait fishing for sweep, whiting or pinkies. Please note that the rock ledge near the Bridgewater blowholes is a specified PFD area; you must wear a lifejacket when fishing this area. More info here.


A little hidden gem at Bridgewater is the Bridgewater Lakes. It's well known as a skiing and watersports lake, but not as many recognise the potential of this ultra clear water for redfin fishing. The rules surrounding lake access for fishing can be confusing; the lake is managed for watersports and times when fishing boats are allowed is limited. Land based access is hard due to bankside vegetation. Nonetheless, if you're able to make it out you will be in amongst some big redfin, in clear water. I'd be casting soft plastics on the edges or vibes out deep, and trolling with hardbodies personally. There isn't any river fishing options around here, but you aren't far from the famous Glenelg River if mulloway, bream, estuary perch or bass tickles your fancy.

Marine Park:

It's also worth mentioning the Discovery Bay marine park (closed to fishing) in the area west of Cape Bridgewater. This is to protect local fish stocks and habitat; with populations of fish, crayfish and other species to use this area as a refuge and allow populations to expand into fishing zones. More information can be found here.