Some of the typical fisho slang names for big flathead are ‘lizards’ and ‘crocodiles’.
Usually flathead from a kilo to 3.5kg are called lizards and the larger fish are called crocs.
These big females spend Winter and Spring up river and do not feed as actively as when they are building up prior to spawning. They travel in schools and stop at the same places on their way down the river.
Those in the know just check these places for signs of the marks these big fish leave on the mud or sand between high and low tide.
They may stay in one place for over a week before moving further down the river. However, if they are targeted by anglers and a few fish are caught, the rest will move on quickly.
Once they reach the corner of the Harrington wall they stay in the vicinity until the end of February or the first couple of weeks of March.
Occasional big fish will be caught in the lower areas of the estuary until May but none are usually caught over Winter.
There are only a few fish that have not spawned by the end of February and once they drop their eggs, they head off back up the river.
The big flathead should arrive at the corner of the wall by the end of the second week in December.
These fish are easy to catch on live bait on a bobby cork rig but they should be released so that they can shed their eggs. If they are treated correctly they will be able to be released with no harm coming to the fish.
Of course, it’s no use ripping a gaff into the guts of a fish and then saying it cannot be released because it will only die. We have a couple of anglers here who adopt this tactic.
We also have a few who go down to the wall every morning and catch two big fish and then return in the afternoon and repeat the procedure.
Most anglers are getting sick of this behaviour and it would not surprise me if these unethical fishers were reported to the appropriate authorities.
Reliable as ever, the Manning River has continued to produce good catches of quality fish over the past month.
School jew have been plentiful with fish from 2kg to 12kg caught on soft plastics, deep-diving lures and live bait. Yellowtail have been the preferred livies.
Flathead catches have improved in the lower reaches but the best bags have come from near the Cundle bridge at night on soft plastics.
Bream are falling to soft plastics and flesh baits fished from boats and flicked into the rocks and allowed to sink down near the rock walls.
Some luderick have been caught this way but the best catches have been made at night by fishing unweighted live yabbies on the inside of the wall.
Big seas, southerly winds and rain have made it hard to get in a decent session on the beach but some of the diehards have caught fish.
The bream have been taking worms at the southern end of Crowdy Beach and on the southern end of Harrington Beach near the end of the seawall.
Salmon can be caught almost anywhere on the beaches on worms, pilchards and squid. These fish are in excellent condition, full of roe and put up a great fight on light line.
They are also hardy fish and can be released without fear of them dying.
Jewfish from just legal (45cm) to about 3kg are taking worms from the beach just north of the seawall.
Tailor are scarce on the beaches but schools have been seen tearing into the baitfish out wide of the beach break. When the seas settle and the baitfish come back near the beach then the tailor will be there, feeding on the small whitebait.
Big snapper are the go at present. Straight out off Crowdy Head in 35m to 40m snapper to 7kg have been caught on soft plastics.
Wider out, kingfish have been taking metal lures jigged over the rocky pinnacles.
Pearl perch and mahi mahi have been taken wide of Mermaid Reef.
There are plenty of bonito around for those who like to troll a lure.Reads: 2532