Fishing Guide: the Hopkins River

VICTORIA’S Hopkins River is a popular fishing destination for both Warrnambool visitors and locals. It has many fish species on offer for anglers with bream, perch, and mulloway the most popular.

I enjoy fishing the Hopkins because it is close to home, and very addictive! My current personal bests from the river are: estuary perch 34cm, bream 40cm, mullet 37cm, salmon 40cm and mulloway 54cm.

Lures and baits all work well in the Hopkins and are successfully used in all popular locations. You can choose to fish the river’s flats, deeper sections, or in between.

The Hopkins is a large river system, running from the salmon filled mouth at Warrnambool right up to the trout stream up in the Grampians near Ararat. Each section holds different fish, and this guide will hopefully show you how to catch them. The Hopkins can be fished by a huge range of methods, from deep blades for mulloway to pod worms on the flats. A few key fish include black bream, estuary perch, mulloway, salmon and mullet in the estuary, with trout, perch, tupong and redfin in the freshwater.


The Hopkins offers good land-based fishing for bream like this.

River Mouth to the Bridge

This is the section of river with most of the aforementioned fish species available as well as the occasional whiting, trevally and flathead. However, this can change as the mouth opens and closes. As a general rule though, the first few (1-3) days of the mouth being opened are the best bite times.

Sitting on the beach with shrimp and podworms/bloodworms are the best ways to get a fish. Fishing vibes and plastics up the drop offs, and over the weedbeds is also a good method. The bream up here aren’t huge, but plentiful, and fishing up the drop offs with lures works well. Sight-casting the flats can be very fun and addictive here at times!

The bridge is a popular beginners’ spot, for good reason. It is packed with small to medium bream, with school jewies being common too. Motoring under the bridge casting lures at the pylons is a proven way to fish here too. If I was a baitfish or shrimp, this would not be the place to live!

Bridge to Ski Run

This is the best land-based location on the river. There are currently two wooden jetties and five pontoons to fish off. My favourites are at the river cruise boat and the boat shed, where I have landed countless large bream well over 36cm and perch on lures and bait.

The best methods here are to cast in towards the structure, free spool the bait, and hold on! Night fishing is best for perch and sunrise/sunset is best for bream.

Baits that work well are live shrimp, worms, chicken, crabs and brown river shell. Lures that produce are the popular Z-Man Grubz, Squidgy Wriggler and the Gulp Minnow. At night target around bait schools where the perch are feeding.


Estuary perch are regulary caught by lure fishers in the Hopkins.

Ski Run

This is a large area full of natural timber and snags, which is big bream and barramundi size (nearly!) perch heaven. Lures seem to work as well as bait here, with lures like Zipbaits Khasmin, Luckycraft Sammy and the soft plastics mentioned above working well.

Casts towards the snags are often eaten, and if you want a mulloway the deeper sections are where you want to fish. The opposite banks work well with large reeds teeming with shrimp which fish well with Zerek Live Shrimp and Savage Manic Shrimp being the best.

Ski Run – Jubilee Park

This is a fairly featureless part of the river, but you don’t always need structure to catch fish. The Jubilee Park area has bream, perch and school jewies. The deep holes are the best jewfish location, with the jetties, snags and flats being the bream and perch spot. This area is popular with bait anglers too.

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Some quality bream can be caught on both lures and bait.

Jubilee Park to Tooram Stones

This is the last spot on the river to boat fish, with the upper sections being too shallow and rocky. This area sees the most trout in the estuary section, and you still get bream and perch. Lure casting off the bank to big bream usually gets a fish (they are big and smart!) as does casting at snags from a boat.

Upstream from Tooram

This section has bream, perch, trout, tupong, redfin, and (don’t tell anyone) yellowbelly that have escaped from farm dams. Casting and walking the banks is the best method, because you can’t launch boats up here. If you can launch a kayak, this is a better option.

The snags hold perch, and the rapids hold trout. Baits like scrub worms and crickets are good, and your usual trout and perch lures work well, like the Rapala X-Rap 6, Vibrax Minnow and the Daiwa Double Clutch 75mm. Hopkins Falls is worth a look for trout and reddies. Casting under the rapids work here. You might even catch a short-finned eel!


There are so many popular lures that work in the Hopkins, however, I will name my favourites: Z Man Grubz, Cranka Crab and Minnows, Strike Pro Micro Vibes, Strike Tiger Worms and Grubs, Berkley Powerbait Power Minnows, Gulp Shrimp and Prolure Cranks.
Suspending hard bodies are the best hard option.

Fishing light jig heads is the best way to catch the bigger, smarter bream.

For bait fishing the top five baits are shrimp, mullet, shells, podworms, and chicken. I use a simple running sinker rig with a 1/0 circle hook. Keep in mind that lighter is better.

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Catch & release is a good option if you’ve caught enough fish for a feed.

So hopefully you have got some hints for your next Hopkins trip. I really like the Hopkins River because it is so close to many places, and is a great fishery. Remember to fish light. Good luck!

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