Aerial View Barwon Heads


Few places in the country offer an angling challenge quite like the Barwon River estuary. Structure is in short supply, and what is there isn’t easily visible. Tidal flows can be unpredictable and visibility is often poor.

Despite the challenging fishing conditions, the Barwon River estuary attracts fishos from across Australia. For the determined angler, the rewards are bountiful. I thought I would head down there recently to try my luck at the estuary for myself.


January is a great time to catch Mulloway in the Barwon River estuary. They are in abundance between November and February, with the bigger fish biting between March and July. I knew I had arrived too early for the biggest Mulloway, but I was still excited to see what kind of action I would find.

We had access to a boat on the first day, so we thought we would take the opportunity to explore a place known locally as ‘The Thunderbolt’. About 500m downstream from Lake Connewarre, the Thunderbolt is on the west bank, which holds a deep channel. The Thunderbolt is known for Silver Trevally, Whiting and Mulloway. Locals had told me that the Thunderbolt is particularly generous at the start of the flood tide. We were using squid pieces as bait, however, there was no luck today and after an hour of no luck, we decided to move on.

Between the Thunderbolt and Sheepwash on the eastern bank, there are some excellent fishing locations as drains bring water from the mangrove swamp. Predatory species will wait here and pick off baitfish brought in by the drains. There were two moments of excitement, twice I found myself fighting a fish, but unfortunately no Mulloway. A decent-sized Whiting and a Stinger, but not what we were looking for.


I had seen on internet forums that the best time to target Mulloway was the few days either side of the full moon. We had timed our trip deliberately to coincide with this period. After no luck from the boat, we went back to the drawing board and reached out to some local fishos to pick their brains. They reiterated that timing is everything and advised us to fish at times of minimal tidal exchange. They also told us that our store-bought squid wasn’t going to get us anywhere here. It was all about the fresh stuff.

So we had our agenda. We needed to get the squid before we could get the Mulloway. So that night, we went on a squid-finding mission and before long we had a couple of decent-sized squids to help us in our quest for Mulloway.

The following day, land-based fishing would be the order of the day. We decided to try the jetties around Sheepwash boat ramp. The conditions looked good, we had our squid, we were there a low-high tide, the full moon was due that night, but still nothing but Whiting.


We had one last chance. A full moon fishing session after dark. Again, we asked around and heard about a bridge which might yield results. Apparently, anglers use the bridge to land Mullet and Trevally, but after dark, we were going to try it for Mulloway.

We decided to switch our tactic up again. This time we would use lures. We checked out the area as the sun was disappearing, and the water below the bridge didn’t look that deep. I was sceptical. If there were fish here I thought I would be able to see them, particularly Mulloway. But running out of options, we had little choice but to give it a go.

A few more fishos showed up with similar ideas to use: taking Mulloway at the full moon. This provided some encouragement as we got underway.

I started off with a low and slow retrieve, then began adding a few pulses, when suddenly, I was on to a fish! I was reluctant to get my hopes up, having been deceived in the past by stingrays with a lot of fight in them that felt like Mulloway.

The fish made a couple of good runs, and my excitement was increasing. It was giving me all the signs of a Mulloway. My hopes were rewarded when I caught a glimpse of that all-too-familiar paddle tail and chunky body. My hard work had paid off. I had conquered the Barwon River estuary.


Have you fished the Barwon River estuary? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

John Steele
John Steele

John loves cooking at home and outdoors, travelling, fishing and discovering a new life. He's got loads of experience he wants to share while he adventures through retirement.